#97 Rice Football 2012 Preview

Rice Owls

2012 Overall Rank: #97
4th West, Conference USA
Rice College Football 2012 Preview
Rice Team Page


Rice University seems to be the forgotten school in the state of Texas.  Not many people think of Rice when they think of the football powers in the Lone Star State.  Perhaps that is due in part to their struggles on the field in addition to the small size of the school.  Rice had a lot of trouble scoring points in nonconference games last season, which helped contribute to their eight losses.  They had a solid win against Purdue in the second week of the season, but could not sustain that success for the rest of the year.  They hit a three game skid in October, which derailed any hopes of competing for the Conference USA West title.

2011 Record: (4-8, 3-5)
2011 Bowl: None
Coach: David Bailiff (19-30 at Rice, 40-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jon Reagan
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Thurmond

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Turner Peterson, RB, 511 yards
Passing: Taylor McHargue, QB, 1,072 yards
Receiving: Vance McDonald, WR, 532 yards
Tackles: Cameron Nwosu, LB, 108
Sacks: Three tied at 1
Interceptions: Bryce Callahan, DB, 6

Other Key Returnees: RB Sam McGuffie, DB Paul Porras, LB Corey Frazier

Key Losses: OT Davon Allen, LB Justin Allen, QB Nick Fanuzzi, DL John Gioffre, OT Jake Hicks, WR Randy Kitchens, DL Michael Smith, Tyler Smith RB, DE Scott Solomon


Though defensively Rice was a little bit suspect, the Owls have a strong linebacking corps.  Cameron Nwosu is a tackling machine who has a nose for the football.  They also rotate defensive players from down linemen to outside linebacker.  Paul Porras is versatile and can play a number of positions for Chris Thurmond, including safety, linebacker, and defensive end.  Corey Frazier contributed last year as a sophomore and will be looking to increase his production as well.  Rice also has a stable of running backs that could breakout this year and produce a lot of yards for the offense.  Sam McGuffie, originally a Michigan recruit, is an athlete with incredible speed that can be used in different packages.  Turner Peterson, used last year to spell senior Tyler Smith, will be the main workhorse for the Owl offense.  He had over 100 carries last year.  That number should increase to a little over 150 this year.

Even though Rice did not have a good record last year on the field, they lose a ton of production to graduation.  Losses include their starting left tackle, quarterback, running back, and sack leader.  It’s difficult to replace multi-year starters like Scott Solomon who had 8.5 sacks last season.  The next closest returning player had one sack all season (three were tied).  The defense must improve overall if the Owls intend to compete.  They gave up over 460 yards a game in 2011, ninth worst in the nation.  Also, Nick Fanuzzi vacating the quarterback spot will be interesting.  Taylor McHargue got some invaluable experience last year, splitting time with Fanuzzi.  Fanuzzi started the last four games, but both played in at least eight games.  McHargue had good numbers, but did not accumulate many yards so his success remains to be seen.  

The Bottom Line:
Rice will most likely struggle again in 2012.  Two early games against UCLA and Kansas will give the Owls a good idea of how they stack up to middle-of-the-pack teams in bigger conferences.  If they play well they might be able to make some noise in Conference USA.  A pivotal game might be against Southern Methodist.  SMU is starting to come on as a tough competitor in the Conference USA and with that game toward the end of the season, it may make or break the Owls season.  Bailiff will have to do his best trying to manage players that have not started before.  After losing many players to graduation, he will have to find guys to step up and stand out.  It is difficult to see Rice eclipsing five wins this season and receiving a bowl bid.

Projected Bowl: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 150.92 (67th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 196.75 (82, 11)
Total Offense: 347.67 (91, 9)
Scoring Offense: 23.33 (85, 8)
Rushing Defense: 183.42 (88, 9)
Pass Defense: 152.05 (110, 11)
Total Defense: 462.08 (111, 10)
Scoring Defense: 33.33 (99, 9)
Turnover Margin: .67 (20, 3)
Sacks: 1.75 (74, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (52, 5)