Rice's one win in 2017 came against winless UTEP, the movable object vs. the resistible force. Now David Bailiff is gone, Mike Bloomgren is in, and 2018 should look different in at least a few ways. Before we get there, let's look back at 2017, avert your eyes.
Conference Record 1-7
Scoring Offense 16.3 (130th out of 130) Scoring Defense 35.8 (114th out of 130)
Points Per Play .256 120th out of 130) Points Allowed Per Play .521 (119th out of 130)
Turnover Margin -23
That last number is the kicker - minus 23. Rice was always going to struggle to win games but when you turn the ball over 23 more times than you get it back winning became an impossibility. Rice quarterbacks combined for six touchdowns and sixteen picks. Owls ball carriers put the most valuable asset on the ground 21 times, losing thirteen.
If you'd like to read the Kliff Notes of Rice's season, it's one number -23.
Billy Lynch's offense never found the one or two things they were good at. Partly due to injury, the Owl's offense never got off the ground. That'll happen when you have to change quarterbacks week to week and their handing off to new backs every week, some of which were playing defensive back the week before. The anemic offense put a tired defense in vulnerable positions and in the words of Stevie Nicks, the landslide brought it down.
What pieces are in place?
We don't know how much of Stanford's Intellectual Brutality Bloomgren brings to Rice Village but in limited action, Miklo Smalls looked like an asset. The true freshman accounted for three of the Owl's top passing days, each going over 60% and he ran well enough to keep defenses respectful.
Nahshon Ellerbe came on late in the season at running back, while he's not a banger, he can slash and make people miss. Rice's rushing offense was serviceable. Their passing offense, not so much.
If you can get Aaron Cephus and Kylen Granson the ball, that's a big if, the Owls have two large targets who can make explosive plays downfield.
Jordan Meyers is a Swiss Army Knife who can play a Toby Gerhart/HBack/fullback role. He's built like a brick shithouse and is just a freshman.
If everyone hangs around the Owls return the entire defensive line two-deep from 2017 as well as four-fifths of the secondary two-deep which is a great place to start for new Defensive Coordinator Brian Smith.
What pieces need replacing/finding?
Trey Martin was one of the best centers in CUSA in 2017; he's graduating as well as starting guard Pete Godber.
If the internet memes are correct, Stanford's offense uses a lot of tight ends. More than two, which is the total of what returns for Rice. Starter Robby Wells graduates as well.
Brian Womac, Emmanuel Ellerbee, D.J. Green, and Nick Uretsky, all graduate at linebacker. Womac and Ellerbee are particularly hard to replace.
Rice's running back situation became dire thanks to injuries. With Samuel Stewart's injury history his presence on the roster is in doubt.
Help on the way
|Name||School||Position||Height||Weight||24/7 Rating||Nat'l Ranking||Position Ranking||State Ranking|
|Brenden Brady||Steele (Cibolo, TX)||RB||5-11||190||0.8376||NA||82||187|
|Prudy Calderon||San Marcos (San Marcos, TX)||ATH||5-11||194||0.8165||NA||137||249|
|Brendan Harmon||All Saints Episcopal (Fort Worth, TX)||WR||6-5||194||0.8165||NA||268||259|
|Jordan Oliver||Kempner (Sugar Land, TX)||CB||5-11||165||0.7853||NA||211||364|
|Luke Brockermeyer||All Saints Episcopal (Fort Worth, TX)||OLB||6-3||210||0.7803||NA||156||370|
|Ryan Booth||Churchill (San Antonio, TX)||OT||6-5||280||0.7803||NA||195||371|
|Walker Hankinson||Alamo Heights (San Antonio, TX)||OT||6-5||250||0.7792||NA||205||376|
|James Bagnell||Flour Bluff (Corpus Christi, TX)||OT||6-5||300||0.7698||NA||216||390|
|Ja'Quez Battley||Arlington Heights (Fort Worth, TX)||OLB||6-0||205||0.7642||NA||171||407|
|Miles Adams||Strake Jesuit (Houston, TX)||WDE||6-5||225||0.7598||NA||139||412|
|Clay Servin||Pearce (Richardson, TX)||OT||6-5||240||0.7397||NA||252||442|
|Jason White||Bishop Dunne (Dallas, TX)||CB||5-9||165||0.7397||NA||287||443|
The Owls have a pretty nice class heading into the dead period. The Owl's twelve commits rank eight in CUSA according to 24/7.
Luke Brockermeyer is worth a mention if for no other reason his old man Blake was an All-America at Texas and a heck of a pro.
The 2018 Slate
The 2018 slate is more kind out of the block with Prairie View A&M coming to Rice Stadium, followed by Houston, then things get interesting with trips to Hawaii, Wake Forest, and LSU.