Rice picked up its first win of 2016, a blowout victory over FCS opponent Prairie View A&M. In the game Rice quarterback Tyler Stehling threw for over 400 yards for the first time in his career and set a career high with five touchdowns. As good as Stehling looked against Prairie View, he's looked pedestrian against the Owls' FBS opponents.
Through Rice's first six games, excluding Prairie View, Stehling has connected on 56% of his passes for 164 yards a game with five touchdowns and four interceptions. Stehling, a senior, has played ok, certainly he's not the reason that Rice is 1-6, however Rice has needed more from the position.
The question now becomes, what's Rice expecting out of this season? A bowl game is out of the question. The Owls won't challenge for CUSA West and more importantly, Stehling won't be on the roster in 2017. Is it time for Rice to move on? With five games left is it time to see how the quarterbacks who will be on the roster for 2017 fare?
We're talking about RS Freshmen J.T. Granato and Jackson Tyner. Granato, from Kinkaid, was a three star quarterback with offers from both Houston and Rice. At 6'4 and 225 pounds, he's got ideal size for a pocket passer, a role he played very well as a high schooler, throwing for over 9,000 yards and 81 touchdowns as a three year starter at Kinkaid.
Tyner is a similar build, 6'5 240, and perhaps a bit more versatile. He was a highly regarded pitcher out of Edgewood, rated the 10th best tight end in Texas by Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Tyner played basketball and was a state qualifier throwing the discus. Considered more of an athlete out of high school, Tyner threw for 4,219 yards at Edgewood. Tyner has yet to see the field in 2016 or during his Rice career.
Granato and Tyner look to be the Owls quarterbacks of the future. This season they've been listed on the depth chart with the dreaded "or" between their names. Granato played against Prairie View on Saturday, registering a four yard touchdown run, but didn't attempt a pass. That's part of the problem, shouldn't Rice see what happens when Granato or Tyner attempt a pass or two?
This is the time to find out. David Bailiff's seat has become a lot hotter after an 0-6 start. A young, promising starter might alleviate some of that pressure and give some hope for the future. At the very least, Rice puts a young guy in the line of fire this season so when he's asked to do the job next year he can rely on his 2016 playing time. That plus Rice's coaches will have some idea what they have on the roster against real live opponents and not just a non-contact spring game.