College Football Preview: The 2015 Rice Owls
Rice Owls Preview
2014 Record: 8-5
The Rice Owls have enough weapons on offense to make some noise if the defense holds up.
Overview: Rice returns far more experience on offense then defense but unless the ‘D’ falls apart the Owls could be the dark horse in the CUSA West and certainly will have the attention of opponents.
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Offense: The quarterback is always the focus in an offense and for Rice, Driphus Jackson is a do everything type that really doesn’t show a lot of flash. Jackson threw for over 2,800 yards on less then 58% which isn’t great but 24 touchdowns versus eight picks speaks for itself. Add in that he was the third leading runner with 556 yards and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Jackson does need some receivers to work with as Jordan Taylor and Mario Hull depart with over 1,600 yards. Dennis Parks and Zach Wright are going to be his primary targets with a combined 688 yards on 54 catches. The Owls are primed to do plenty of damage on the ground with Jowon Davis (255-956) and Darik Dillard (134-652) doing most of the heavy lifting although just two starters return on the O-Line.
Defense: The defense is missing pieces with ends Brian Nordstrom and Zach Patt gone after logging 31 TFL and 17 sacks. Eight players return with experience and several three star recruits are in the mix so we have to see how things pan out but they can’t be better. The linebacking unit is the most experienced on the defensive side of the ball with seven seeing action in at least 12 games with Alex Lyons being the leader with five TFL and three sacks a year ago. The secondary loses five of the top six and even though there are potential replacements there looks like some type of drop off has to be expected.
Special Teams: At 42 yards on 68 punts James Farrimond is a solid punter and a pretty good short range place kicker where he was 7-7 at less then 40 yards. Brandon Hamilton is the primary kick returner but the Owls need somebody to step forward in the punt return game.
Outlook: Rice won’t be falling off the map but there are question marks. How long it takes to get the missing pieces to mesh is key to their success and if they can get things ironed out by their 4th game when Western Kentucky visits then this could be a dangerous squad.