This game was a far cry from the first two games of the season. In narrow losses to UH
and UCLA, Rice was able to offset deficiencies in skills by employing a superior game plan
and a superlative effort, thereby staying in each game virtually to the final gun.
Mike Falco once again put in his usual gut-check game, but with little in the way of stats
to show for it (PTH photo)
Unable to get dug in on either side of the ball, the Owls quickly found
themselves staring at a 14-0 deficit. The third time the Horns got their hands on the
ball, the Rice defensive unit held them to a field goal, but in all fairness that was
mostly attributable to the fact that UT was flagged five times for 35 yards in all on that
Facing a second and four at the Rice 14, the Horns drew the flag three straight times
before being able to run a play false start, false start and holding and
that took them out of end-zone striking distance, but not too far away for Texas
placekicker Greg Johnson to nail a three-pointer from 46 yards out.
Moral victory? Not really.
While generating virtually zero offense the first half, the Owls were left standing at
the docks, watching the Good Ship Bevo sail farther and farther away into the distance,
until 17-0 became 38-0 by the time the second quarter clocked ticked down to halftime.
Possibly the most depressing element of the first half for Rice came about after what
looked as if it could mark the beginnings of a turnaround. Up 17-0, the Horns were
knocking on the door at the Rice seven yard line when JaCorey Shepherd put the big
hit on UTs Selvin Young, and Marcus Rucker recovered Youngs fumble.
But on third and ten from that point, Joel Armstrong retreated into his own end zone,
where his passing pocket quickly evaporated. Joel was smothered by several sides of UT
beef, and on his way to the ground, UT defender Tim Crowder simply stripped Joel of the
It looked like a safety, but the gendarmes ruled it a TD, and the rout was on.
Rice defensive scheme ineffective against sheer
John Welch goes high to attempt to block kick -- one of these days, he's going to get one (PTH
One couldnt say the Owls hadnt a least tried to come up with an
effective defensive package against the UT onslaught. The Rice defensive scheme was
designed to stop the run, placing eight defenders on or near the line of scrimmage, and
using the linebackers and Dbs on a number of blitz packages. But the Longhorns had an
answer for every defensive move the Owls showed them.
During the first half, UT quarterback Colt McCoy was seven-for-eight passing, including
two for TDs. for 124 yards and two touchdowns. After a personal foul erased a thrid-and-17
for Texas at the Rice 31, McCoy picked up a Rice blitz and hit split end Limas Sweed on
the slant for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 38-0, Texas.
By half, UT had rolled to some 380 yards total offense, while the Owls had all of two
first downs, one of them resulting from a penalty. The stats are even uglier than that,
but we wont waste your time here by reciting them; masochists are free to refer to
score and play - by - play.
In the second half, Mack Brown slowly began to substitute, although the quality hardly
fell off when moving from Texas first to its second units. That was particularly
true at quarterback, where frosh Jevan Sneed looked every bit as sharp as first stringer
But to its credit, the Rice defense didnt quit. The Texas offense was mostly
silent in the third quarter, except for a 38-yard scoring pass, Colt McCoy to Jordan
Shipley that made it 45-0 midway in the stanza.
Sneed led the Longhorns on their final scoring drive of the day, an 11-play, 80-yarder
that ate up pretty much the first half of the fourth quarter.
The Owls thus were facing a goose-egg as the clock ticked down, moving 83 yards in
seven plays now, get this: all of them passes. This was a time in the game
when Owl fans could take just a bit of solace, for at that point, Joel Armstrong, though
tired and dinged-on, threw crisply seven straight times to his wideouts.
Dillard just keeps getting better and better
Courtney Gordon chases down UT ball carrier (PTH photo)
That gave Rice soph WR Jarett Dillard nine catches for 91 yards on
the day, including a six-yard TD reception. It was a personal best for Jarett for the
second week in a row.
The Owls also look to have discovered themselves another major talent in the making, in
true freshman wide receiver Evan Fentriss, who made a spectacular 39-yard reception of a
Joel Armstrong pass to keep the Owls only scoring drive alive.
Todd Graham spent a longer-than usual time in the Rice dressing room before coming out
to meet reporters after the game. When he did so, the Rice head man was sanguine.
"We knew what kind of battle it was going to be defensively," he said.
"I think their offensive line is as good as any in the country.
Still, it was clear that Coach Graham had expected at least a bit more offensive
production than that which was put forth by the Owls especially given OC Major
Applewhites familiarity with the UT schemes. But it wasnt so.
"Their defense completely dominated what we were trying to do offensively,"
Coach Graham said, "and then we propounded that with a huge amount of mental
"Its part of building a program," he concluded. "Nobody said it
was going to be easy. Tonight was definitely a poor performance on our part. But we were
"But give them credit. They whipped our tail tonight. And so now you go on to the
Bad boys, bad boys. Texas was flagged for a school-record 19 penalties
for 148 yards. And those didnt include the dozens of penalties that could have
been called, but werent. Despite the officials apparent indifference to all
manner of offensive and defensive holding exhibited by the Bellies, Texas
nevertheless must have set an all time collegiate record in illegal procedure calls. At
least some of that must be attributable to the movement Rice showed along the defensive
front. Penalty flags nullified three Texas touchdowns a 29-yard run by Jamal
Charles, a 72-yard punt return by Aaron Ross and a 30-yard TD run by Chris Ogbonnaya. Then
again, at least a couple of those wiped-out scores were aided and abetted by the
infraction. Rice, by the way, set a season high for penalities, as well, committing 13 for
Promising Owl freshman goes down with injury. Rice freshman linebacker
Jonathan Arceneaux was playing on the punt team that allowed Aaron Ross TD return in
the third quarter. Jonathan was cut down on the runback one would hope not by
an illegal chop block and went down in a heap. There was a fairly obvious break in
his left leg, and he had to be fitted with an air cast before being carted from the field.
What a waste. We hope for a speedy and full recovery.
Bad day for Owls, all over. It was Bad Day at Black Rock for all three
NCAA Division 1-A teams which bear the nickname "Owls." Besides Rices 52-7
loss, the Temple Owls fell 62-0 to Minnesota, and the Florida Atlantic Owls were humbled
48-8 by Oklahoma State. Lets see, doing some quick adding here, it looks like those
three Owl teams were outscored 162-15. Not a good day to be an Owl, it seems.
Seminoles fall. Just in case you harbored hopes that the Florida State
Seminoles would be inclined to take these Rice Owls lightly when the Flock travels to
Tallahassee this coming Saturday, you can disabuse yourself of that glimmer of light.
Thats because Papa Bobby Bowden fell to son Tommy Bowden Saturday, Clemson winning
out over the Seminoles 27-20 on a last-gasp TD run as time expired in the eighth annual
"Bowden Bowl." Coach Bobby was popping Tums afterwards, and you can bet his
Criminoles will be armed and dangerous when the Owls take the field against
them Saturday. Maybe literally.
-- Paul T. Hlavinka
Coach Graham comments on Rice-Texas game....
Joel Armstrong's post-game remarks....
Chad Price talks about the mismatch....
Hey, Owl fans, what time is it?
Graham says of upcoming
clash with Longhorns:
'We need to go get a win'
HOUSTON (Sept. 15) The Rice Owls call on whistle stop number three
in their September train ride through hell when they, er, "host" the University
of Texas Longhorns at Houstons Reliant Stadium Saturday; kickoff time is 5:05 p.m.,
and the game is being televised nationally on ESPN-2.
While head coach Todd Graham earnestly repeats the mantra that both he and
his players really and truly believe that they have the stuff and the strategy capable of
pulling off the upset against Texas, most loyal Owl fans would be content with merely
another strong showing against what is, at least on paper, a much, much stronger opponent.
Certainly the Owls have nothing to be ashamed of in their first two outings, although
they have yet to scratch the win column. Rice is making mince-meat of the oddsmakers
sheets this season by substantially beating the odds each time they tee it up. But
its time to start winning some games, Coach Graham says and in that regard,
it doesnt matter whom youre playing.
"Weve made a lot of progress," Coach Graham says of his
teams first two games, a 31-30 nailbiter loss to U of H and a 26-16,
in-it-all-the-way loss on the road to UCLA. "But we havent accomplished
anything. We need to go get a win."
The Owls couldve picked a more unlikely program against which to try to
break into the win column. Texas has won seven straight games over the Owls, and 35 of its
last 36 against them.
``We definitely respect all of our opponents here, but this isn't the week that
we're going to get caught looking in the past,'' UT tackle Justin Blalock said. ``We have
all our sights set on Rice and everything they're going to do.''
Well, maybe yes, maybe no. The conventional wisdom is that Texas 24-7
thumping at the hands of Ohio State in DKR Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday will only serve
to enrage the Steers into a frenzy of run-up-the-score-itis when they take the field
against the Owls.
Could Owls turn Bevo into Chia Pet?
But its also possible that the big hole punched in Texas cowhide by
the Buckeyes might lead to the germination of tiny seeds of doubt, that, with a poor
showing against the Institute, could turn Bevo into one, giant Chia Pet.
For starters, UT quarterback Colt McCoy is obviously an excellent athlete and a
fine young man but Vincent Young, he isnt. Like many Owls, Colt earned his
schoolboy spurs at a small, rural high school and thus may still carry lingering
The redshirt freshman did toss for 154 yards, going 19-for-32 with an
interception and a touchdown against Ohio State Saturday. He threw for 178 yards and thre
TDs in the Longhorns' 56-7 win over North Texas in the season opener.
Moreover, Texas has a great, experienced offensive line and talented running
backs, both of the extremely sizable and extremely speedy variety or both..
"Were not going to play a better offensive line, period," Coach
Graham said. "I think their offensive line is as good a one as there is in the
"Theyve got great running backs, with great speed, and they have
talented receivers that can really stretch the field," he added. "The thing that
weve got to do is get in there and be able to slow down the run. Weve got to
get better to defense the run on early downs."
"There are a lot of things that we can do to be better; that we didnt
do against UCLA. We can be better against the run."
Such improvement will have to start with the ability to slow down a bit, if not
entirely stop, Texas running back Jamal Charles, who ran circles around the Owls last year
in Memorial Stadium, with a season-high 189 yards and three touchdowns in last season's
51-10 Texas win. Charles has rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown through two games this
Then theres Selwyn Young, whos got both size and speed, and big
Henry Melton, whos got, well, whos got size, and a lot of it.
Rices 3-5-3 defense is designed to bend but not break in the face of such
a strong running game, but in this case its inevitably bound to do a lot of bending
over the course of four quarters of play.
The Owls dearly can make use of mistakes by the Texas offense, and the Rice
defense is ready to create some turnovers of its ownjust as it did four times
against UCLA last week.
What may favor the Owls in that regard is if UT offensive coordinator Greg Davis
decides to tinker with the offense a little on Saturday (given the obvious haplessness of
Defensively, only UT vices are off the field
Defensively, Texas appears to have no weaknesses (well, apparently not on the
field, at any rate -- ed.), Coach Graham observed. " From a defensive
standpoint, theyre very talented in the back end; I think theyre very talented
at cornerback," he recounted. "Theyre naturally big and physical up
However, Coach Graham says that Texas personnel and its typical offensive
and defensive game plans actually match up better with what the Owls are in a position to
combat, than did either the situations presented by UCLA and UH.
"Were in a better position in some ways than we were in weeks one and
two," the Rice mentor allowed. "We have some matchups that I feel good
Despite that, though, he doesnt want a soul to think that he has anything
but reverential regard for the Big Orange Machine. "I consider them the best program
in the country," he said. "So its not hard to get motivated to go out and
play this week."
Texas head coach Mack Brown likewise had some complimentary things to say about
his opponent, and this weeks coaching counterpart, in Mondays press briefing.
"He's done a great job," Mack said, speaking of Coach Graham.
"They have a one-point loss to Houston, where they were ahead 30-14 at halftime two
weeks ago. In watching the UCLA game Sunday and yesterday, they played UCLA down to the
end. It's a six-point game in the fourth quarter with about eight minutes left to go and
it ended up being ten points. They were fighting and scraping until the end."
And of course hardly a second has gone by this week without both head
coaches being besieged with questions about Rices hot-shot young offensive
coordinator, one Major Applewhite, who not so long ago played a little bit of quarterback
on the Forty Acres.
"I'm just so proud of him," Coach Brown gushed Monday. "I was an
offensive coordinator at a very young age, and Major has head coach written all over him;
it's just a matter of time. In watching their offense last night (on tape), I was really
proud of him."
"He's like family and we'll pull for Rice in every game, obviously except
this one. We'll be Rice fans now as we look forward."
Well, thats certainly special. But now lets pull out the weekly rap
University fathers have announced that top UT cornerback Tarell Brown will
return to the field against the Owls after he was suspended for one game for being
arrested during a traffic stop. Misdemeanor drug possession charges against Brown and
backup linebacker Tyrell Gatewood were dropped Friday.
"The two young men who had their personal issues last week will rejoin our
team," Coach Brown announced Monday. "There will be strict stipulations, which
will be confidential and verbal with me; it will not be in writing."
"The University rule actually says you can play unless you're convicted of
a felony -- that's in the student manual here. The young men have been under a lot, and
we've told them that they'll have strict guidelines to continue to play. They'll have to
earn their jobs back."
But one must give credit where credit is due. The UT coaching staff did suspend
their stud DB in the Ohio State game, a contest where his skills were needed perhaps more
urgently than in any single other game on the card.
That loss to OSU last week was not a thing of beauty. And if lightning strikes
and the Owls find a way to hand UT a loss Saturday, it will have been the first time since
1978 that a ranked University of Texas team will have lost on consecutive Saturdays. Ouch.
To keep it close, and maybe even have a chance to pull off he upset, the
Owls do-list is lengthy: avoid turnovers, get some from Texas, contain
the running game, harass McCoy, give up no long-play Tds, and make a splash early to get
those seeds of doubt germinated in the Longhorns minds.
"We know what weve got to do," Coach Graham insists, "and
were capable of doing it."
"We believe that."
Most Thrilling Game in Rice History' (Rice - Texas 1934)....
Monday's press briefing
Coach Graham talks about the
Rice-Texas game and the Owls'
upcoming tilt with Florida State
Todd Graham, part 1
Todd Graham, part 2
Dillard, Shepherd provide
offensive, defensive spark, drive
Rice DB Ja'Corey Shepherd
Rice WR Jarett Dillard
HOUSTON (Sept. 12) Jarett Dillard and JaCorey
Shepherd are like two bookends so tough that the pair of them could hold a whole library
together. Close friends off the field, they hone their skills as wide receiver and
cornerback, respectively, by going against each other time and time again in practice.
Both are the leaders of the Rice Youth Movement at their respective positions, and the
skys the limit for what this talented duo can accomplish on the football field
during the rest of their considerable college eligibility, and perhaps beyond that, as
well. On the offensive side, Jarett Dillard played in all 11
games with eight starts at wide receiver as a true freshman last year. He had 35 catches
for 524 yards and five touchdowns to earn all-Conference USA freshman honors. Those 35
catches were the most by any Owl during Ken Hatfields 12 seasons as the Rice coach,
and Jarett should well be expected to double that amount this season, now that hes
part of an offense in which his wideout threat is an integral part. That likelihood was
heightened by the night Jarett had against UCLA Saturday, making seven grabs for 81 yards,
a career high. The San Antonio native is a Baker college Political Science/ Managerial
Studies double major. His counterpart on the other side of the ball started last year at
cornerback as a true freshman. In 2005 he played in all 11 games with six starts with 46
tackles and two interceptions on the year, including a spectacular one against Texas. The
Lufkin High graduate2004 graduate of Lufkin is a cousin of former Texas A&M
quarterback Reggie McNeal (along with several other college and pro athletes). But whereas
it could said that McNeal peaked early in his college career, JaCorey is showing
solid improvement each time he takes the field. Perhaps its just in the blood, but
JaCorey has exhibited pure star quality in his first two outings this
year against U of H and UCLA. The Martel College member is a political science major. Both
Jarett and JaCorey offered their takes of the UCLA and Texas games Monday.
Jarett Dillard interview....
Ja'Corey Shepherd interview....
Song, Next Verse?
Or RIP, 'Louie, Louie'?
By Mark Anderson
Joel Armstrong rides back of UCLA defender like a bucking bronc (Mark Anderson photo)
HOUSTON (Sept. 14) -- OK, Owl fans, its time for
a quiz. After an 0-2 start, do you believe the
A: a vastly
improved team despite their record;
improved, but hard to tell; or
C: same song,
next verse on South Main?
If your answer is C, then you have obviously not been paying
closed attention to whats been happening on the gridiron this fall. The correct answerand only answeris
Aa vastly improved team.
The proof of this is in the pudding, so to speak. Let me give you some statistical comparisons from
the two opponents from last year and this year to back this
In 2005, the Owls opened with UCLA, and lost by a nightmarish score
of 63-21. The Owls fumbled the ball twice in
that gamelosing possession of the ball both times.
They did not have an interception in the game.
Also, the Bruins scored seven touchdowns inside the Owl 20, while the Owls
scored three times inside the 20.
At Robertson Stadium in 2005, the Owls committed six costly
turnoversthree fumbles and three interceptions, while only getting one of each. They lost by a score of 35-18.
Oh, yes, one more thing: the
most sacks the Owls had in a game by a player was one.
The total number of sacks for the entire season was 12.5 sacks.
Now, why do I say the Owls are vastly improved? While the Owls got no turnovers against UH, they
did record four sacks in that game. Against
UCLA, they recorded four turnovers and four sacks. And
the margin of total number of points in those losses is only eleven pointsnot
fifty-nine, as in 2005.
Im not going to ramble on here forever. But I hope my point has been made. This team is one that is vastly improved in 2006. If you are thinking the Owls are playing the
same old record from last year, think againbetter yet, look again! The proof is there for all to see that this is a
much improved team.
Maybe, then, it's finally time for the MOB to retire 'Louie, Louie.'
This team is playing a different song altogether.
Another underrated Owl team
once gave UT champions fits
(Houston Press archive)
HOUSTON (Sept. 13) There was once another Rice Owl team,
in another day, another time, that met the Texas Longhorns in Houston, this time the
season before the Longhorns won a national championship. It was in the 1962 season,
one in which the Owls were destined to win only two games, despite playing team after team
right down to the wire.
This game came at the waning moments of a time in which the Institute Boys
gave the University fits, year after year especially on those occasions when the
Longhorns came to play in Rice Stadium.
The Longhorns had last eked out a win at Rice in 1952. Thereafter, every other year for
10 years, when the Horns came acalling, they got their seats handed to them by the
In 1954, behind the running prowess of Dickie Moegle, the Owls whipped Texas,
13-7 (yes, a score that low nevertheless could be considered a whipping in those days).
In 1956, a 4-6 Owl team defeated Texas, 28-7 before a packed crowd in Rice
Stadium. In truth, that 56 UT likely constituted the nadir of UT football, as it was
that Ed Price - coached team that went 1-9 and suffered the ignominy of being the first
Longhorn team to lose to the Texas Aggies in Memorial Stadium.
Then in 1958, the Owls, led by all-American end Buddy Dial, won 34-7 over a
Texas team that was being coached by a new, young, redheaded fellow by the name of Darrell
In 1960, Rufus King, Johnny Burrell and Bobby Lively led the Owls to a 7-0
victory over the Longhorns a win that put the Flock over the top for an invitation
to the Sugar Bowl.
Then in 1962, a strong Texas team, ranked number one in the nation going into
the game, appeared on Saturday night, October 27, before a Rice Stadium sellout crowd of
73,000. (Believe it or not, they had to install temporary bleachers along the end zone
walkways in order to accommodate the extra demand for tickets.)
Rice had tied a highly-ranked and favored LSU team the first game of the
62 campaign, and theyd battled Penn State to within 11, losing 18-7 in Happy
Valley. But they were winless, nonetheless, going into this game with Texas.
The game was one of the social events of the season for Houston citizens, many
of whom thronged to Rice Stadium that evening despite affiliations with other SWC schools.
No room for kids at this game, though. (The writer, as a 12-year-old, begged to be taken
to the game to no avail.)
The game was a typical see-saw battle that saw both teams play for field
position. But down 14-7 with the clock ticking down, and mired at midfield, the Owls gave
the ball to running back Paul Piper, who outran UT All-American Duke Carlisle to the goal
line, and so the game ended a 14-14 tie.
That run was often referred to as "the run that cost Texas a national
Perhaps the admonition of then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy had still been
ringing in the ears of the Owl players, for only a couple of weeks earlier he had
delivered his speech announcing the U.S. program to reach the moon by the end of the
decade before a large crowd in that self-same Rice Stadium. Rice alums, however, tend to
remember that address as President Kennedys "Why does Rice play Texas?"
That 1962 Rice team had some familiar faces on it, including a number that are
still closely associated with Rice football. One of the quarterbacks was a guy named
"Walt" McReynolds, who became Walter along with his medical agree and is now a
major supporter and team physician. (The other two Owl Qbs were Randy Kerbow and Billy
A guard on that team was local banker Alvin Early. Billy Hale played halfback. Check out the three-deep roster posted elsewhere and see how many of
those Owl players you know.
The Owls have managed to defeat Texas only twice in the intervening years
1965, in Austin, and of course the time we pretty much all remember, 1994 in Rice Stadium,
when the Owls prevailed 19-17.
But probably there never was a Rice team as downtrodden, and a Texas team so
exalted, as there was in 1962, when the two-win Owls managed a tie with Texas which likely
kept them from winning the national championship, which, of course, they managed to pull
out the following year, in 1963.
Called 'The run that cost Texas a national
championship", this 1962 touchdown dash by Paul
Piper pulled out a 14-14 tie for the Owls and knocked UT from the ranks of
(Houston Press archive)