2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 113 Rice Owls
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Rice Owls
No. 113: Rice Owls
Rice Owls Prespring Status
After a horrendous 3-9 season – even with two late wins to make the year look a little better – the Owls have to find some semblance of a defense after finishing dead last in the nation in pass efficiency D that got lit up by everyone, and they’ve got to find an offense with a lot more pop. Head coach David Bailiff as worked wonders before, and this year he should have a better and stronger team with more experience to play with. This should still be one of Conference USA’s weaker teams, but it’ll be improved.
Rice Owls Biggest Issue
How quickly can the passing game improve? Tyler Stehling wasn’t exactly Matt Ryan, but he hit 61% of his passes for over 2,000 yards and 12 scores. A decent runner, he finished fourth on the team with 309 yards and four scores for an offense that needed all the help it could get. In a backhanded slap, though, he wasn’t so good that he can’t easily be replaced. Jackson Tyner stepped in late when Stehling suffered a knee injury, and he looked great against UTEP before struggling against Stanford.
Rice Owls Biggest Positive
This will be a far, far more experienced team. There just can’t and won’t be the injury issues – and sickness problems here and there – the Owls had to deal with last season. Every team has injuries, but it never seemed like Rice was ever to create any sort of continuity because of all the lineup changes. On the plus side, several players saw meaningful playing time, with all five starters back on the offensive line, and the entire two-deep back on the defensive front.
Really, Why Are The Rice Owls Ranked Here?
Just how much can the Owls improve? The potential is there to make a big jump, but the defense has to make a massive leap to at least be mediocre, and the offense has to find more scoring punch. 144 of the 303 points came in three games last season, with the O coming up with 17 points or fewer six times – all losses. With experience on the lines, though, there’s reason to hope for a few games of improvement.