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Summer Preview: Rice Owls

Team: Rice Owls

Conference: Conference USA - West

Location: Houston, Texas

2006 Record: 7-6 (6-2)

Coach: David Bailiff

2007 Schedule:

Date Opponent
09.01 Nicholls State
09.08 @ Baylor
09.15 Texas Tech
9.22 @ Texas
10.03 @ So. Mississippi
10.13 @ Houston
10.20 Memphis
10.27 @ Marshall
11.03 UTEP
11.10 @ SMU
11.17 Tulane
11.24 Tulsa

In no particular order, 5 players of interest from the Rice Owls:

  1. Jarrett Dillard, WR, Jr.: Dillard is unbelievable on offense. Casually perusing his statistics and you know that he's a true talent with 6 games of 100 yards receiving or more (one other game with 91 yards). Dillard doesn't have your prototypical size for today's wide receiver, as he only stands 5' 11" and weighs only 160 pounds. He obviously has speed, but more importantly he knows how to get open, despite the fact that defenses were completely focusing on Dillard for much of the season. Dillard had 10 games with 6 or more catches and an unbelievable 21 touchdown. This, by far, will be the most interesting battle when the Red Raiders, can our corners handle Dillard's speed, but more importantly, can they make sure he stays out of the endzone.
  2. Brian Raines, LB, Jr.: Raines is one of two linebackers who will lead this 4-2-5 defense, although I believe he's coming off of shoulder surgery, he should be completely healthy by the first of September. Raines made the 2007 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List so you know he's got talent. Raines can be a dominating force on the defensive end as he logged games in double-digit tackles 6 times. On a team that had some attrition on the defensive line, Raines is going to be vital for the Owls to continue their winning ways.
  3. Chase Clement, QB, Jr.: Clement is an interesting study as it's quite obvious that much of his success last year was dependent on Dillard succeeding. Clement isn't afraid to run as he's a fairly accomplished rusher. In fact, Clement had games where he rushed for 64, 41, 141, 67, 46 and 69 yards last year. His longest run of the year last year was against UAB where he had a 57 yard scamper. From a passing perspective, Clement is efficient and throws touchdowns when he plays (Clement missed 5 games last year due to injury) as he had multiple touchdown games every game except against East Carolina. Clement will, once again, be a great primer for those Big 12 rushing quarterbacks (physically the same size as Chase Daniel) that this Texas Tech defense should see throughout the season.
  4. Andrew Sendejo, S, Jr.: Because Rice runs the 4-2-3, safeties are vital to this team and Sendejo was a pleasant surprise last year. Built like a linebacker 6'2", 210 pounds he'll also be counted on heavily by the Owls. Sendejo didn't contribute a ton to the defense last year, but he will be forced to step up as he's the only returning starter at safety (hell there's only 5 returning starters on defense overall - yes, that sounds familiar). Of course Sendejo will be counted on quite a bit against Texas Tech.
  5. Marcus Knox, RB, So.: The Owls rushed for 131 yards a game last year, and Clement accounted for 481 yards. But it was Quinton Smith who led the team in rushing for almost 1,200 yards and much of the success that Dillard had is a direct result of the rushing success this team had. Teams were forced to honor both the pass and the run, but now the job falls to Knox. Knox is a little on the small side at 5'9" and 200 pounds, about the same size as Shannon Woods. Of course Rice could simply head into the season with a running-back-by-committee, but I would imagine that they would want someone to step up and be the starter for this team and Knox will have the first shot.

In no particular order, 5 key Rice Owl statistics:

  • 148.88: Yikes! Rice was 110th last year in passing defense efficiency. Could this be a banner day for Graham?
  • 187.85: Double Yikes! The Owls were 112th in the nation in rushing defense, if Shannon Woods were to ever need to have the ball in his hands, this might be the game. What a quandary, I don't know what to advise Mike to do . . .
  • .62: Rice was on the plus side in turnover margin and tied for 21st in the nation. Teams that don't turn the ball over usually win.
  • 26.92: The success of Dillard and Clement helped the Rice offense to be 41st in the nation in scoring.
  • 2.46: Although not good defensively, Rice was pretty good at sacking the quarterback and was 34th in the nation.