The 2018 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Rice Owls.
No. 126: Rice Owls
Rice Prespring Status
It’s a new coaching staff with a lot of new players and a lot of hope for an improvement. It won’t be that hard after winning just one game last year.
New head coach Mike Bloomgren knows the problems of trying to succeed at a school full of really, really smart guys – he comes in after serving as the Stanford offensive coordinator.
But he’s got a whole lot of work to do for a program that’s won just seven games against FBS teams over the last three seasons.
There’s plenty of experience returning on offense, but the defense has major holes from a group that struggled come up with a consistent stop, and had a harder time taking the ball away.
Rice Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Linebacker. Bloomgren has to settle on a starting quarterback and has to try getting more out of his running backs, but the team has to do the most work replacing all of the starting linebackers from a defense that allowed close to 200 rushing yards per game.
The top four tacklers of last year are gone including leading stopper Emmanuel Ellerbee – who came up with 69 more tackles than the No. 2 guy – and D.J. Green.
Rice Biggest Issue
The defense has to start taking the ball away. And the offense has to stop giving it up, too. The Owls were a horrendous -23 in turnover margin – the talent isn’t there to win games on a regular basis without being on the plus side – with 29 giveaways.
That was bad, but the defense didn’t help the job with just six takeaways. Not only were the Owls last in the nation in turnovers gained, but no one else had fewer than nine.
Rice Biggest Positive
Rushing production. It won’t be quite as easy to get everything going with next-level offensive tackle Calvin Anderson leaving the school as a grad transfer, and two other parts to the offensive front have to be replaced, but the backs are there.
Rice ran for 2,244 yards and averaged close to five yards per pop, and now it gets back all but four of those rushing yards. There’s not a lot of power, but there are plenty of good backs for the new coaching staff to work with. Now the rest of the team has to produce.
Really, Why Are The Rice Owls Ranked Here?
It wasn’t all that terribly long ago – 2013 – when Rice won ten games. The program will never get the talent, but as long as it starts winning the turnover battle and starts doing all the little things right, winning might be possible.
The secondary has experience, and the offensive backfield has plenty of producers. but it’s going to take a while before Bloomgren makes enough of a difference to make Rice a player.