A Return to the Desert -- 2010 Rice Offensive Preview

    -Last year I had a series of previews (although my busy schedule didnt allow one for every team) called the "Leave No Doubt Tour 2009". Well we certainly didnt leave any doubt as to whether we deserved to return to the Promise Land in College Football, also known as The Rose Bowl.  Problem is: We came up short.  And numb. And blindsided.  But alas, we have moved on and realized that we live to play another day.  We have a chance to once again return to the Grand Stage if we play our cards right.
    This year, we have no need to remove all doubt.  This year, we start the dynasty.  This year, we redefine Texas Football.  This year, we silence the critics and whiners (I'm looking at you Bo Pelini).  This year, ladies and gentlemen....We Return to the Desert!
The house that John McCain built, but Quan Cosby tore it down.

     After a hellacious 8 months of zero Texas Football, we are back!  This Saturday, the Texas Longhorns travel to Houston and Reliant Stadium to take on the Rice Owls of the C-USA.  This is a low-caliber opponent to start off the season, but exactly what Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns need to refine the new schemes they plan to unveil as the season progresses.  After the jump, lets dive into what to expect from the Rice Owls and how well, or not well they match up against our Horns.  Also, please check out Mr. Bean's quick take on Rice and also Scipio Tex's preview from BC.





My Lord, they were bad.  They started off the season 0-9 en route to a 2-10 finish in the C-USA.  Gone are the skill players such as Chase Clement, Jarrett Dillard, and James Casey, and now we have the leftover transfers from Alabama, Miami, and Michigan taking over.  They scored a paltry 18.3 points a game while giving up a nation's worst 43.1. Of course those numbers were skewed by the electric offenses of Houston, Navy, and Texas Tech, however the point is clear.  Rice couldn't stop anyone and The Mob Squad crossed the 50 yard line more than the offense.  


Offense - After an abysmal season, it is expected for things to be shaken up at Rice in order to find out their winning formula.  Head Coach David Baliff returns for his 4th year at Rice with a record of 15-22.  He does return quite alot of players from last year, as Rice was one if not the youngest teams in college football.  So there is hope.  Baliff's biggest change during the offseason was acquiring new offensive coordinator, David Beatty from Kansas.  Beatty is a former assistant at Rice during the Applewhite years as OC, and the previous WRs coach at KU under Mangino.  Beatty was not retained by Turner Gil and is a very nice addition to the staff.  Expect Beatty to employ quite alot of a hurry-up tempo to their offensive attack to fatigue their opponents.  Obviously with our depth, this will not have an effect on us, but expect it benefit the Owls as they face conference play.   Beatty also brought over TE/OT coach, John Reagan from KU which will add some youth to the coaches table.  Hopefully, for Baliff, this will add intensity and team cohesion, which was something Rice incredibly lacked last year.

Defense - Not much change on the defensive side of the ball as far as schematics and philosophies go.  Rice still will run the 4-2-5, which was different from the 3-3-5 stack we saw in 2008.  They've added some body weight along the D-Line and they return 10 starters.  I'll be interested to see how Baliff handles the new and improved Texas running game since Mack has named Cody Johnson as the starter.  We may see their "KAT" linebacker shade over to the play side to add support against the run.  But I'll get to the expectations/match-ups later on.


(This is a calculated guess, but a guess nonetheless)

Offense - 

QUARTERBACKS: Who the hell knows.  Rice head coach Baliff has stated he will not name a starter until kickoff to keep Texas guessing.  He's made the decision, but he's not telling.  My guess is that all three QB's will play and it doesnt matter who starts.  

-QB1: Nick Fanuzzi. 6-3, 220 lbs, JR.  Alabama transfer, and the starter for last year.  He had an 11-8 TD/INT ratio
last year and is a decent athlete with an accurate arm.  He won the job last year by default.

-QB2: Taylor Cook: 6-7, 240 lbs, SO.  Dude is huge.  Dude has a cannon.  Dude isn't mobile.  Dude transferred from Miami.

-QB3: Taylor McHargue.  6-1 195 lbs. FR.  
The dark horse in the race, and probably the best fit for Baliff's spread scheme.  Surprised everyone by having a hell of a spring.  Dual threat QB.  
Dude is tall!

RUNNING BACKS: Expect a RB by committee much like we use, however expect the star to emerge by the end of the season....unlike us.
RB1: Tyler Smith: 5-8. 195 lbs. SO.  No McGuffie isnt the starter.  Smith is the jack of all trades, and reminds me of Tre Newton, just 4 inches shorter.  

RB2: Sam McGuffie: 6-0, 200 lbs (yeah right). SO.  
Michigan transfer and Houston raised.  Youtube sensation and enemy of curved bill hats.  Will be in the slot at times as a WR.  Fast, agile, and very talented.  
RB3: Charles Ross: 6-1, 210 lbs. SO.
Bruiser.  Big, physical back who was C-USA All Freshman last year with 11 Touchdowns.  Injured for most of spring, he expects to be healthy for gameday.  

Sam McGuffie Hurdle (via shfiftyfive5)




WIDE RECEIVERS/TE's: Gone are the James Caseys and Jarrett Dillards of Rice.  Since then, Rice's YAC by the WR's have been horrendous, placing 119th out of 120 teams last year in that category.  With a focus to become a spread team, Rice will have to become better at getting past the first line of defense this year.

WR1: Derek Clark: 6-2, 185 lbs, SO.  Rice's deep threat and their "X" receiver.  He has good hands and is due for a breakout season.

WR2: Corbin Smiter: 6-2, 200 lbs, SR.  Injury laden career has sapped alot of the potential for Smiter but he has the tools to put it all together.  Its do or die for him.  

WR3: Pierre Beasley: 6-3. 215 lbs, SR.  Big physical receiver who can make the big play one minute, then drop a simple screen pass the next.  He's their Malcolm Williams.

TE1: Vance McDonald: 6-5. 250 lbs. SO.  Big target with long strides.  The Rice staff is very excited about him this year as he had a great Spring.  Expect him to be thrown to on 3rd downs.  

OFFENSIVE LINE: Rice returns all 5 starters on their O Line and some with Pro potential.  Although the O-Line was the forefront of the offensive woes of last year, group cohesion and another year of experience will certainly pay dividends by the end of the season.  
LT: Scott Mitchell: 6-4. 290 lbs, JR.  Mitchell is Canadien and has added quite alot of quality muscle to his frame in the past 3 years.  He has started 30 consecutive games and is the leader in the clubhouse.  Very agile as his size isnt huge, but he still has room to grow on his frame.

LG: Jake Hicks: 6-3. 290 lbs, JR. The injury bug hit Jake last year as he missed 5 games yet still managed to pull off earning Honorable Mention All C-USA honors.  Can also be moved to tackle if needed.

C: Keyshawn Carrington: 6-3, 285 lbs. JR.  Great athlete but still fairly light for a Center.  He will be tested by larger DTs, especially Kheeston Randall.  

RG: Eric Ball: 6-3. 290 lbs. SO.  Started only 1 game last year but played all 12.  Had a great offseason and is expected to be a force on the right side this year.  

RT: Tyler Parrish: 6-4. 280 lbs.  JR.  A project RT (like Britt Mitchell) but has good hands and quick feet.  I think he's better suited as a guard, but Rice's lack of depth makes that improbable.  Expect him to be tested by Eddie Jones.


-Keenan Robinson/Christian Scott vs Sam McGuffie:  Ouch.  Just picture Sam trying to hurdle one of them.  Sam does have some giddyup, but doesnt have an offensive line like he did at Michigan to help him.  

-Sam Acho vs Scott Mitchell:  I'd love to see how Mitchell handles Acho Ocho Uno's first step.  I bet it is like nothing he's ever seen before.  I'll put the over/under on QB hurries for Acho at 5.  

-Blake Gideon vs Vance McDonald:  Blake is going to be the safety valve and the trash pickup man this season.  That means he needs to keep his centerfield clear of any TE's running up the seam.  

-Aaron Williams vs Pierre Beasley: Physical vs physical.  Slot vs nickel.  In think AJ shuts Frenchy down all day long.

I'm incredibly sorry about the length of this, but thats what previews are.  I hope you're still reading at this point.

Defensive preview to come out tomorrow morning.  Enjoy and comment below.

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