The smallest university in
Division 1A football, and
arguably the finest --
embodying the ideal
of the Student Athlete.
X A look at the Rice Owls,
both '02 and prior years:
the coaches, the players,
records and stats . Your center for Rice and
NCAA football links on
the web, both inside and
outside the hedges. Notes, comments and correspondence from the editor's
A walk back through the
years: some Rice
traditions, foibles and
The 2007 Season
Tulsa 48, Rice 43
Adding insult to injury--or
Todd Graham reprises what he did to his employer, players, Rice fans ten months ago (PTH
photo/ more photos below...)
Rice offensive explosion
fails to knock off Tulsa Six TDs, 700 yards of offense not enough
We know that fairy tales are just that; that nice guys finish last; that cheaters
often prosper; and that, in college football, the sleeziest, greediest, most hypocritical
exponents of the game usually trump those with high ideals, academic standards and the
off-field performance to back it up.
Just coincidental to that little exposition, we are constrained to report that the
University of Tulsa was ahead of the Rice Owls, 48-43, when the final gun sounded in the
season-ending football game for the Institute on the cold, wet, miserable Rice Stadium
turf here Saturday.
The win propelled Tulsa head coach Todd Graham -- and with him, his current team
-- into the C-USA championship game, which will be played at, and against, Central
Florida next week.
Going into the that contest, hell tire of telling reporters how he plans
to win out against the leagues orneriest defense after having given up 700 yards of
total offense against a Rice team that finished 3-9 on the season, and never really shook
off the bugaboo that assailed them by virtue of a season-opening, narrow loss to 1-AA
Nicholls State, on this same Rice Stadium turf, and amid equally miserable weather
conditions three months ago.
But with this most recent loss, it appears the greatest fear of Rice die-hard
supporters shall not have come to pass.
For far from sprouting the seeds of doubt and indecision during the long
incubation period they call the off-season, the Rice players insist this latest loss will
do nothing but propel the Owls and one would hope, their supporters into an
eagerness to replay the season, and this time around, revamp an outmanned and injury-laden
defensive unit into a cadre worthy of its prolific, never-say-die offensive counterpart.
"Im excited; I mean, as soon as we come back Monday, Im ready
to go back to work," Rice junior quarterback Chase Clement said post-game, apparently
eliminating any question whether hell pass up his senior season for an assured berth
in medical school. (Note to the Tulsa reader: "medical school" is a place where
physicians are trained, a common destination for Rice graduates whove also played
intercollegiate athletics. See also "law school," "MBA,"
"PhD," and "Goldman-Sachs.")
"Well start hitting it hard again here soon, and I"m really
excited because weve got so much talent coming back," Chase said, gritting his
teeth. "Weve got one of the best receivers in the country (Jarett Dillard);
weve got James (Casey), whos just unbelievable; just so many guys whove
been out there in game situations and have played, and so whove gotten game
experience; and weve got a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge of the game.
And so Im really excited I cant wait and as soon as we get back
Monday, well hit it again."
James Casey once agains amazed Owl fans, confounded
opposition with bull-like offensive production (Mark Andersonphoto)
C. J. Ogukwe scores to bring Owls s within a single
score, 41-36, in fourth quarter (PTH photo)
Chase Clement has words of encouragement for James Casey as Owl surge continues (PTH
Grudge match -- or is it?
Despite bland pre-game cant,
Tulsa undercurrent runs deep
A different eon, perhaps
Rice AD Chris Del Conte gives former Owl head coach Todd Graham a slap onthe back after
last year's 48-14 win over Army -- Graham's first as a collegiate head coach (PTH
HOUSTON (Nov. 22) -- And so it all comes down to this. A 3-8 Rice
squad takes on an 8-3 Tulsa team in a game which, only a couple of months ago, many Owl
fans were expecting at least hoping would have bowl game and league
That turned out to be half right. For head coach Todd Graham's bowl-bound Golden
Hurricane, a win over Rice will put them into the Conference USA league championship game,
most likely at Central Florida, a week hence. But for the Owls, this is it for the season.
This is the bowl game. This is the game that will leave the taste, good or bad, in the
mouths of the Owls, their coaches and fans, as they head into the long off-season
wondering what otherwise might have been.
Speaking of mouths, both squads' players have been mouthing innocuous platitudes when
queried by incredulous sportswriters this past week. Scribes had expected, apparently, a
war of words, after all the hubbub arose several months back in connection with Todd
Graham's sudden departure from Rice for greener pastures -- as in $1.1 million greener.
But to hear tell by Rice and Tulsa players, this game stacks up as just another
date on the schedule, not the grudge match it was being stacked up to be ever since
Graham's hasty departure from South Main in January. One suspects the coaches on both
sides were doing a little public speaking mentoring of their own -- and both David
Bailiff, for Rice, and Todd Graham have been predictably circumspect themselves. More....
Sammy's been waiting on this one since
Tulane 45, Rice 31
take backward step
in loss to Tulane That's the kind of day it was
Owl defense struggles to bring down vaunted running back Matt
Forte, a scenario which was repeated more than once this gloomy day against Tulane (Mark
X By Bob Reinhold
XChase, JD: Tulsa 'just
HOUSTON (Nov. 19) They werent talking that way in January, but Rice
football team leaders Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard say the vitriol and vinegar has
simmered down, if it ever was at the boiling point before, in regard to the
recently-departed former Rice head coach Todd Graham.
season-capping contest between the Owls and Coach Grahams new outfit, the Tulsa
Golden Hurricane, is "just another football game," both players insisted to
gathered media Monday. More....
HOUSTON (Nov. 18) -- The November magic is over. Winners of four
straight November tilts last year, and two more this season, Rice made too many mistakes
Saturday and fell to Tulane 45-31.
Chase Clement continued to set new records becoming the Owl all-time season total
offense leader with 3,311 yards, surpassing Tommy Kramer. But Clement, like the rest of
the offense, defense and special teams, made too many errors to get a win on a dark,
Tulane's Matt Forte lived up to his pre-game hype. The nation's leading rusher scored
five times and increased his season rushing total to 2007 yards. Forte becomes one of only
10 players in D1 history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Forte gained 20 yards on his
first two carries, and Owl fans thought it would be a long day. But Rice's defense
stiffened and held Tulane to a 38 yard Ross Thevenot field goal.
After two exchanges of punts Rice took the lead on a 13-yard Clement to Jarett
Dillard TD pass. It looked just like a lot of JD's touchdowns with a leap over a defender.
Owls look to score points,
slow down Tulane's Forte 'One-dimensional' the order of the day
HOUSTON (Nov. 15)
To hear it told by the prognos- ticators, the Rice Owls are going to be teeing it
up this Saturday against a one-man team and that one man is going to be able to
handle them quite nicely, thank you.
In fact, the Tulane Green Wave, who come into Saturdays tilt with
a 3-7 record, 2-4 in conference, do feature the number one running back in college
football in the likes of Matt Forte, who currently leads the nation with 1,813 yards
rushing in ten games. But if one takes a look at the entire Tulane stat sheet, the term
"one-dimensional" immediately comes to mind.
Offensively, the Green Wave have only averaged 23.6 points per game thus far this
season, despite grinding out an average of 396 yards total offense per contest. Of that
number, over 200 of it has come on the ground, which means that Mr. Forte is providing
better than 90 per cent of the Greenie ground game, and right at half its total offense.
Rice head coach David Bailiff is the first to admit that the senior
Tulane running back is a major force to be reckoned with. "I've been around some
great backs, but he is a great football player," Coach Bailiff said. "He has
size and he has speed and he has vision. You see him in piles like at SMU where you think
he's tackled, and all of a sudden he's going down the sideline for 50 more yards. He's an
amazing player." More....
Rice 43, SMU 42
Another one for the record book Jarett Dillard shows his incredible
leaping ability with this touchdown grab against SMU (Mark Anderson photo) Owls yield 28-0 run to SMU, but prevail
in end Another fourth-quarter
comeback for Owls,
this time capped by Fangmeier field goal
Chase Clement leaves a Pony in his dust as he scores to bring the Owls to within 42-40,
setting the stage for Clark Fangmeier's dramatic walk-off field goal (PTH photo)
DALLAS (Nov. 10) Rices Young Doctor Clement commanded
the surgical theater here Saturday with his usual eleventh- hour precision, but it was but
an intern who wielded the scalpel that ripped out the heart of Peruna, as Clark Fangmeier
nailed a walk-off 31-yard field goal to propel the Rice Owls past the SMU Mustangs 43-42,
in the Institutes second furious and improbable comeback win in as many weeks.
This time, the Owls squandered a 27-21 halftime lead by surrendering three, cheap
third-quarter touchdowns for which the Ponies had to travel a grand total of 73 yards. But
that just set the table for what have now become pretty much the expected heroics, as
Chase Clement and his happy gang of madcap MASH surgeons dramatically drove the length of
the field three times in the final quarter, trimming the Ponies lead to within a
field goals distance and then setting up the perfect chip shot for the indomitable
Rice place kicker.
Having been there more than a few times before, Owl fans can commiserate with the SMU
faithful ,who appeared poised to come away from this Homecoming game with a victory, sweet
revenge for Rices gut-wrenching win over the Mustangs last year at Rice Stadium
a game that sent the Owls to the New Orleans Bowl and dispatched the Mustangs home
to yet another bowl-less season.
But if Rices win over SMU last year was gut-wrenching, this one was a
heart-stopper ; in fact, just could have served to put the moribund Mustang football
program on life support.
There was no bowl on the line for either team this time around, but one could
never tell that from the fury with which each team, in turn, surged from behind to take
the lead in this topsy-turvy game.
Despite beggaring a weakness up the gut for much of the first half, the Owls
parlayed a pair of pick-six interceptions, one by Brandon King and the other by who
else Andrew Sendejo, into a 27-14 late second quarter lead. More....Box score,
SMU quarterback Justin Willis pushes away official after
being unceremoniously dumped by Owl defense -- if SMU has 100 per cent football
graduation rate, they must offer degree in Thug-ology, as Pony jaws were flapping the
whole game (PTH photo)
Owls seek to sustain momentum One-win SMU team no
easy challenge for Rice
Sammy: Peruna under
DALLAS (Nov. 9) -- The Rice Owls continue their annual tour as
Everyone's Favorite Homecoming Opponent when they take on the Southern Methodist
University Mustangs on the Hilltop here, with an un-televised kickoff at 2:00 p.m.
Indeed, the Pony Nation has designated this weekend as Homecoming, which one
would surmise is still a big deal on Fraternity Row here, with people putting on dress
duds and electing a Homecoming Queen which isn't some kind of inanimate object, as has
been the wont of our fellow Rice weanies for many years.
To top it off, the Owls are going in to play SMU at their place in front of a lame-duck
head coach, as long-suffering Mustang mentor Phil Bennett was handed his pink slip a
couple of weeks ago, though notified he was being expected to serve out the remainder of
this season's sentence.
"They (his players) realize it's homecoming, and they've still got a lot to
play for," Coach Bennett said at his Monday press conference. "Obviously (with
his firing) it's a bittersweet situation, but as I tell them, 'That's why you play, that's
why I coach. You get a chance to go out and compete again on Saturday.'"
Now, the last time the Institute came in to Dallas to play a just-fired SMU
coach was 2001, when the Good Guys sported an 8-3 record going into the game. The fired-up
Ponies parlayed a 20-7 halftime deficit into a 37-20 upset that knocked the Owls from bowl
consideration, even with their resulting 8-4 season record. More....
Rice 56, UTEP 48
Now that's more like it!
Onlookers saw a new side of RIce
head coach David Bailiff after Rice's frenzied comeback win over UTEP -- this one's
relaxed, confident, and ready to move forward (Mark Anderson photo)
'Chase was awesome' Owls overcome 20-point deficit, 7 turnovers to seize win over UTEP
Chase Clement scores in fourth quarter to cap off Rice win,
career performance against UTEP (PTH photo)
Brandon King goes low to make open-field tackle on UTEP
receiver (PTH photo)
(Nov. 4) -- If, in the eventual course of events, Rice football coach David Bailiff
settles in for a long, successful reign as the head man on South Main, at the end of it
all he'll be able to look back fondly on a balmy autumn afternoon in the early November of
2007 as the day the earth turned on its axis, and things started to break his way.
For it was on that day that, in an almost supernatural turn of events
highlighted by an almost superhuman individual performance, the Rice Owls managed to
slough off seven turnovers -- nine, really, if one counts the two onsides kicks they
surrendered in addition to four interceptions and three fumbles -- en route to overcoming
a three-touchdown deficit with four scores in the last 11 minutes of play to win going
away over a stunned University of Texas - El Paso team, 56-48.
Propelled by an eight-touchdown performance on the part of veteran Rice
quarterback Chase Clement, the Owls took command and control of a game that had been
written off midway in the third quarter by the better part of the Homecoming- attending
alumni in attendance, many of whom wandered away toward reunion parties, having done so
missing one of the more remarkeable comebacks ever staged by an Institute eleven.
Now, we've tossed out enough numbers to choke an actuary in the last
couple of paragraphs, but you haven't yet heard of even the half of it. More....
Andrew Sendejo comes on to back up Vernon James, who's stuffed
UTEP running back on fourth and goal from the Rice one yard line, setting tone for
Saturday's defensive effort (PTH photo)
Rice head coach David Bailiff gets a gatoraide bath
after huge comeback victory; that's Gary Andrson Jr. celebrating in the background (PTH
Can Owls put together 4 quarters? UTEP makeup presents
UTEP's Mike Price on Chase Clement's '06 performance against the Miners: 'I thought
he single-handedly beat us'
HOUSTON (Nov. 1) -- Standing at 4-4 on the season,
2-2 in conference play, the UTEP Miners aren't exactly the proto- typical sacrificial lamb
that Homecoming guests get to see visit many American college campuses, but, then again,
the Rice Owls are hardly a typical host, and the Institute isn't exactly your typical
Football Factory, either.
But that's who'll be
facing off at Rice Stadium come 2:00 p.m. Saturday as the Owls try and pick up their first
home win of the season, after having gone 0-for-3 in September and October in the friendly
An optimist would pick and choose Rices efforts in the fourth
quarter of the Marshall game, the third quarter of the Memphis game, the second quarter of
the Houston game, and the first quarter of the Southern Miss game.
Add it up:the strong
start against USM, the flurry of second-quarter offense against UH, the solid
third-quarter against Memphis, and the frenzied
fourth-quarter comeback against Marshall string those together to form a single
game, and one could say that the Owls, by golly, are ready, now, finally, to come up with
a home, er, Homecoming, victory. More....
Sammy plans on giving Miners the shaft
Marshall 34, Rice 21 Marshall winless no more
Rice true freshman DE Cheta Ozougwu and his teammates
pursued Marshall quarterback Bernard Morris -- and pursued, and pursued, and pursued (PTH
Furious comeback not enough
to offset slow start, 24-0 deficit
Rice receiving ace Jarett Dillard had seven receptions on
the day against Marshall -- but none for six points (PTH photo)
HUNTINGTON, WVa. (Oct. 28) -- Hopes ran high on the Rice sideline as
the Owl kickoff team lined up to execute an onsides kick with 3:12 left in Saturday's
game. After all, the Owls had just struck quickly and deftly to close to within 27-21 of a
theretofore-winless Marshall team after spotting the Thundering Herd a 24-0 third quarter
Senior kickoff man Luke Juist placed the ball perfectly, and as it disappeared
beneath a pile of bodies it appeared to be within the control of a Rice player, having
gone the necessary ten yards.
Last year, you know how this would have turned out -- the Owls would have recovered the
football and pushed down the field to score the winning touchdown. But this year, this
week, on the turf of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, West Virginia, the Boys from the
Institute and their faithful were thwarted, in fact for the second week in a row denied
the chance to pull out a last-minute win, for the want of a favorable bounce on an onsides
It was as if the football gods, having forced the Owls and their small cadre of
loyal fans to wander about lost and thirsty in the desert longer than Moses and the
Israelites (that's 40 years for you non-Biblical Scholars), and after having tortured them
with a few sips of cool, sweet water in AD 2006, came down with an ever-crueler vengeance
by once again leading them to the well once again Saturday but denying them the drink they
so desperately craved.
Call last season magical, call it luck, deem it serendipitous, or label it a
fluke. But this time around, the Rice Owls were seeing none of the favorable turns of
event that propelled them to a seven-win season in '06 -- and Saturday's 34-21 loss to
Marshall was yet another case of damnable luck that has drawn the program step by step
away from the ever-so-brief Era of Good Feeling that last year's success engendered.
"If we'd have recovered that onsides kick we'd have won the game; I feel
that from the bottom of my heart," a frustrated and disappointed Rice head coach
David Bailiff said after the game. "And when that ball came out, we had an
opportunity to make the play on it, but we didnt make it -- and thats kind of
the way this season has gone." More....Box
Bailiff goes to Marshall
Likely will come down to
which team wants it worse
Marshall, there's a new Bailiff in
HOUSTON (Oct. 25) -- Rice head coach David Bailiff takes his Owls to
the Mountain State to challenge the Marshall University Thundering Herd this week in what
will be the very first meeting on the gridiron between the two schools. And to say that
both teams are hungering for a victory would be the understatement of the year.
The Owls and the Herd own exactly one win between the two of them during the
2007 fall campaign, but quite a bit more than mere pride will be on the line when the
teams tee it up 4:30 p.m. Saturday (3:30 Central) at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. (The game
will be televised by CSTV.)
Take a look at the stat book -- especially the chapter on defense -- and one would
adjudge that these two teams are woefully bad, to put it charitably. Defensively, the Owls
rank at or near the very bottom of NCAA Division 1A, giving up an average of 527.9 total
yards, and 42.6 points, per game. Marshall is right down there with the Owls on the
defensive stat sheets, however, giving up an average of 469 yards per game itself.
But the teams have been, and stand to continue to be, very competitive against
conference foes. The Owls, given the opportunity to take back and re-run perhaps four or
five plays, could easily be an undefeated 3-0 in conference play with a win over Southern
Miss and narrow losses to Houston and Memphis. More.... X
It's mano a mano between Rice quarterback Chase Clement and Memphis
linebacker Winston Bowens as Saturday's game hung in the balance (Mark Anderson photo)
Memphis 38, Rice 35
Rice, Memphis players look skyward to ascertain the trajectory of a tipped Chase Clement
pass that's headed back to earth; unfortunately, UM player came up with interception
can't handle Memphis
Runaway freight train
James Casey tenses his Popeye-like arm muscles and bulls
forward for extra yardage, carrying three Memphis Tigers with him along the way (MA
HOUSTON (Oct. 21) Two tipped passes. Two stinkin,
blankety-blank tipped balls that turned into interceptions.
That was the measure of defeat for the Rice Owls Saturday, as they fell to a
far-from-impressive University of Memphis eleven, 38-35, in a game that was teed up for
the Institute to win -- despite all the injured Owls sitting on the sideline, despite the
less-than-intense mien with which the Rice players came into this game, and
notwithstanding the wooden defensive alignments and predictable offensive strategies that
the Feathered Flock were instructed to employ all day.
The loss, played before 11,122 souls, many of them apparently electing not to appear
bodily, further served to highlight circumstances that will require more than the rest of
this season to address, ranging from lack of depth to stretched-thin capabilities to the
blue malaise that has seemed now to have descended upon many die-hard supporters of Rice
At the same time, the game showcased a great deal of undeniable talent and
individual excellence among the Rice men on the field, and, somehow, as well, an
ostensible underusage of the collective intelligence of one of, if not the
brightest, inwardly most-motivated group of young men in the NCAA Bowl Championship
Beyond that, and despite the negatives, it was another Rice loss which
turned out one or two plays away from being a win another defeat to add to the
rosary beads of Nicholls and Houston, which, if gone the other away, would have put the
Owls at 4-3 on the season and undefeated thus far in league play.
Owlook Both Owls, Tigers look for better ball control to keep enemy
offenses off the field
(Oct. 18) Are any other Rice fans out there getting a nagging feeling that, despite
all the negatives that have gone down thus far this benighted season for the Owls, we
coulda, woulda, and most definitely shoulda been sporting a 3-3
record at this juncture and 2-and-0 in conference play?
It was deigned to come to pass, the reasoning would go, that the Owls should
have somehow found a way to eke out a win over 1AA Nichols, without putting forth any
particularly more strenuous an effort. Perhaps it could have been one decent- sized
downfield pass to set up a last-minute Clark Fangmeier field goal to pull out a
17-16 win. Wed have groused about the game; but wed have been glad to get the
Forget Texas, Tech, and even Baylor. The Rice coaching brain trusts werent
sufficiently in gear at that point, given the fact that this is, indeed, their first year
with the team and, what the hey, boy genius Todd Graham didnt do a whit better,
bottom line, in his first five games either.
But then there was the win at Southern Miss shouldnt have been a
nail-biter but as Coach Bailiff said, any win in Hattiesburg is a keeper. And follow that
up with an offensive coming-out party the likes of which the Owls put on in Jeppesen
Stadium Saturday remind us, just how does one lose a game in which one puts 48
points up on the scoreboard? More....
Casey at the bat...
James Casey wills his way to Rice's go-ahead touchdown
late in the second quarter against UH (Mark Anderson photo)
UH 56, Rice 48
48-point offensive onslaught
not enough as Owl defense
yields 3 fourth-quarter TDs
Bird's-eye view of Andrew Sendejo's fumble recovery that got Owls in gear in
first quarter (Mark Anderson photo)
HOUSTON (Oct. 14) During a 38-minute period in the middle
two-thirds of the Rice-University of Houston Bayou Bucket clash Saturday afternoon, the
tortoise Owls outscored the hare Cougars by a count of 48-21. It was as dominant an
offensive show and exhibition of defensive opportunism that any Rice team
has displayed in many a year.
Unfortunately, the game runs for 60 minutes, and at the beginning, and at the end,
the Coogs hung 35 unanswered points on the Owls in an even more overwhelming offensive
display of their own.
Never before in its 93-year football-playing history has the Institute ever scored 48
points in a game and come out on the losing side. But with this falls
ever-increasing depletion of Rices defensive talent, stacked somewhat thin to begin
with, there is a first time for everything, and Saturday was that time.
"It hurts," Rice quarterback Chase Clement told gathered newsmen
afterwards. "Cross-town rivalry, and theyre one of the really tough teams in
the conference and you want to go out a winner when you wind up that close."
The San Antonio junior threw for a career-high 355 yards on the day, and was
virtually unstoppable until UH came with an all-out blitz in the fourth quarter.
"Putting up 48 points on the board, and still losing -- that's definitely
James Casey was down at the five, but dragged four UH defenders into end zone for this
Rice TD which put the Owls up, 31-28 (PTH photo)
Taylor Wardlow was wide open for TD that made it 28-24 (PTH photo)
Rice offense did everything but turn inside out to get in
the end zone, but 48 points of offensive production didn't get the job done as
injury-depleted Owl defense gave up 56 (PTH photo)
Andrew Sendejo picks up fumbled kickoff return that propelled Owls to early 14-14 tie
Jarett Dillard looks the ball into his breadbasket before outdueling UH 's Schwartz for
Rice's first TD (PTH photo)
'We want the Bucket back'
Owls say they're ready for mid-term
Rice DL George Chukwu fights off Coog blocker in '06
game; George will be back and raring to go Saturday (PTH photo)
HOUSTON (Oct. 12) -- The Rice Owls and the Houston Cougars have met
many times to kick off the season in September, and on countless occasions to ring down
the curtain in November. But this coming Saturday marks the first time, after 33 meetings,
that the two teams will come together in October, smack dab in the middle of the season,
with all kinds of goals and achievements on the line for both teams.
For the Owls, it's something in the nature of a mid-term exam, in the course
of a season where all looked pretty much lost a couple of weeks ago, before the Feathered
Flock came home from 'The Rock' in Hattiesburg with a surprising road win over Southern
Houston comes in to the game with a 2-3 record, 1-1 in Conference USA
play, but the the Cougars' outings have been much more impressive than the Owls', as last
week they battled Alabama to the final ticks of the clock in a 30-24 loss at Tuscaloosa.
The East Enders' other two losses included a 37-35 nail-biter at home to Eastern
Division favorite East Carolina, and a 48-27 road loss to Oregon to open the season. --
each games in which the Cougars were competitive.
Still, the three losses that have been hung on the local city college equals the
total number of games lost during the '06 season, a campaign which saw the wily senior
quarterback Kevin Kolb lead the Coogs to a C-USA championship and a berth in the Liberty
A lot of Coogfans seem to feel that the prop wash from last year's success will
be enough to lead UH to a second consecutive league title, but old hands are fully aware
that it's difficult to lead the league when your team is quarterbacked by a committee,
instead of a game-breaker. And that's doubly true when the offensive line tends to leak a
Rice DC brings wealth of experience
As defense jells, Driesbach implementing plan bit-by-bit
Rice defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach ably took the podium at Monday's press
conference in the absence of Coach Bailiff. Afterwards, our Mark Anderson button-
holed him for a one-on-one interview (PTH photo)
By Mark Anderson
HOUSTON (Oct. 10) -- What's the first thing a man does when he moves from
Michigan to Texas? Thaw out.
Chuck Driesbach, the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach of the Rice
Owls, is still somewhat frost-bitten from his most recent two years in Michigan.
Consequently, you won't hear him complain about the Texas heat. "I enjoy the
weather," Coach Driesbach said Monday, "because we've been up north quite a bit
in our career, so when people complain about being hot, we're enjoying that."
Coach Driesbach lives in the downtown area, and is really beginning to enjoy all that
Houston has to offer. "We're nine minutes away from this beautiful campus. I ride my
bike in a lot," Coach Driesbach said
Another thing Chuck Driesbach loves about Houston has to offer is the great
variety in restaurants. "I think there's eleven thousand restaurants," he
explained, "and we have probably tried about ten thousand of them already."
While Driesbach is learning to savor the flavors of Houston, don't get this guy
wrong. He's a savvy veteran coach who has coached for coaches the likes of John L. Smith
and Johnny Majors. He's coached on both sides of the ball, sometimes for the same team as
when he coached the defensive line for Wake Forest his first two years there, and then the
receivers and tight ends in his last year there. More....
You never forget your first time
Owls first win over UH
one for the record books
Interception thwarts UH scoring bid in Rice's 1972 first-ever win over Cougars (Rice
HOUSTON (Oct. 10) It seems scarcely possible to have been so
long ago, to those Feathered Flock members of a certain age who can recall when the
University of Houston was just a glorified community college on the wrong side of South
Main Street, instead of the sprawling urban megaversity its become.
In 1971, when Rice actually sponsored the U of Hs membership in the
Southwest Conference, some old grads tossed and turned in bed -- or in their graves, as
the case may have been. The deal was that UH would not begin round-robin league play until
1976. But six months later, the Owls and the Coogs nevertheless were lining it up on the
turf of Rice Stadium for their first football meeting ever.
The date was September 11, 1971, and the Institute Boys, led by first (and only) year
coach Bill Peterson, the master of malaprop, fell 23-21 to a highly favored UH eleven
before a Rice Stadium crowd of 62,000.
Most U of H supporters, and the bulk of the sportswriter community, were
surprised that the Owls could hang that tough against a Bill Yeoman-coached team that had
just recently perfected an offense they called the Veer.
They'd never come that close again, some red-clad boosters inveighed. More...
Rice 31, Southern Miss 29
Owls surge to big lead,
then hold on for win
Eyes on the prize
USM fans show various expressions of dismay as Owl DL Jonathan
Cary gleefully totes his prize -- a recovered fumble that clinched the game for the Owls (PTH
Frosh running back Justin Hill makes his cut en route to
54-yard touchdown run to put Owls up onr USM, 14-7 (PTH photo)
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (Oct. 4) When Rice place kicker Clark
Fangmeier uncharacteristically pushed his 31-yard field goal attempt wide left early in
the fourth quarter of the Owls contest with Southern Miss Wednesday, no one on
the visitors' sideline reacted in a way that would have indicated the slightest degree of
Sure, maybe a few long-suffering Owl fans in the stands instinctively reacted by
registering an involuntary "uh-oh" in the pit of the stomach. But after all, the
Owls were still nursing a 31-7 lead two minutes deep into the final quarter, with the Rice
defense eagerly creating and gobbling up one after another turnover. Surely Rice head
coach David Bailiffs defensive unit could make a few more plays, and the
conservative Rice offense could milk enough clock to enable the Flock to get out of
Hattiesburg with a relatively easy win.
But it almost wasnt to be, for in the last 12 minutes of the game, Southern Miss
rolled up 215 yards total offense en route to three extended touchdown drives, falling
only a failed two-point conversion short of tying the game with just under two minutes
Even then, after the Owls succcessfully covered an onsides kick, the
suddenly-dormant Rice offense could not run out the clock, instead punting to the USM 17
where the Eagles set up to try and use the last 1:50 of the game to get close enough to
the Owl goal to win it with a walk-off field goal.
Fittingly, however, the Rice defense, as patchworked and banged-up as it was,
rose to the occasion as Aubrey White blitzed in to nail USM quarterback Stephen Reaves as
he set up to throw, whereupon Jonathan Cary smothered the fumble and ended USMs
comeback chances. More....Box
Owl running back Marcus Knox has room to roam while QB Chase Clement carries through on
the fake against USM (PTH photo)
USM lineman: 'We're looking forward to
Owls get chance to turn new
leaf on the road, mid-week
Rice true freshman running back Tyler Smith is expected
to see action against Southern Miss (Mark Anderson photo)
HOUSTON (Oct. 1) -- Better stay away from the sports page this week,
unless you want that blue-grey blood coursing in your veins to turn even bluer.
It seems two of the Owls' recent tormentors, the Texas Longhorns and the
Baylor Bears, after having an easy time of it in running up big scores against Rice, were
shot down ignominiously by unranked opponents this past weekend.
After seeing the Owls fall to the Bears, 42-17, and to Texas, 58-14, Rice fans could
take comfort in the rationalization that the undermanned Feathered Flock, after all, had
been taking on the big bullies of the neighborhood. But Kansas State and Texas A&M
effectively put that reasoning to bed Saturday with one-sided wins over the two former
Southwest Conference Rice rivals.
Now, the 0-4 Owls enter a new phase of their season's play with a highly-unusual
Wednesday night game against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg.
As they play the only nationally-televised college football game that day (7:00
p.m., ESPN2), many more eyes than usual will be on the Owls. That may or may not
necessarily be a good thing. More....
Sure could use one about his size this
Rice's all-time leading rusher,
Trevor Cobb, graced the cover of the 1992 version of Dave Campbell's Texas Football
maagazine, the only Owl ever to receive solo front-page billing in the 45-year history of
that publication. Owl fans await his Second Coming, preferably in time for kickoff
Wednesday against Southern Miss...
Owls make early break -- but with zilch results
After Rice DE Dietrich Davis put the quietus on Texas running back Jamaal Charles, frosh
Owl DB Joseph Leary alertly grabbed the fumbled pill in midair -- much to the astonishment
of his teammate, Ja'Corey Shepherd; unfortunately, Owls failed to capitalize on the early
break (Mark Anderson photo) X
Texas 58, Rice 14
Horns feast on Owls Rice the perfect prescription
for Texas' return to wellville
Max Anyiam takes one on the chin -- literally -- for the Institute against Texas (Mark
AUSTIN (Sept. 23) The Rice Owls proved to be the
perfect get-well-quick pill for a previously- inconsistent Texas Longhorn team as the
increasingly injury- hampered boys from South Main took it on the chin 58-14 from a Texas
squad that vastly eclipsed the Owls in terms of sheer physical prowess.
The Flock battled the Longhorns on relatively equal terms for a quarter and a
half, before Texas coaches discovered the Achilles Heel of the Rice defense and began
riddling the Owl secondary with deep passes which turned into consistent big gainers, if
not quick-strike scores.
But if the Owls had been able to turn a shocking early Texas turnover into six points,
the outcome likely would have been put in doubt for much longer than that.
For on the second play of the game, vaunted Texas running back Jamaal Charles
took a solid hit from Rice DE Dietrich Davis, and the ball squirted free.
Frosh DB Josephy Leary grabbed the fumble in midair but was immediately tackled
by UT receiver Limas Sweed. But that gave the Owls first and ten at the Texas 19 yard
line, and brought the crowd of 84,500 to a hushed silence. More....Box score,
'Students versus suspects'? Just another David vs.
Goliath battle for Owls
October 16, 1994: Rice 19, Texas 17 -- will it ever happen again in our lifetime?
In His lifetime? (Webletter file photo)
HOUSTON (Sept. 21) Several eons ago, back in the previous Bad Old
Days, a winless Rice Owl team packed and flew to South Bend, Indiana, for a November road
tilt with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The year was 1988.
Behind Raghib "Rocket" Ishmael, the Irish were undefeated and
headed toward a grudge match in Miami the following Saturday against the despised
Hurricanes of "The U."
The throng of students that packed then-58,000 seat Notre Dame Stadium were so
unconcerned with their foe for the day that most of them came wearing sweat-shirts that
focused on the essential nature of the upcoming battle with Miami. The shirts read,
"Catholics versus Convicts."
Now why, might one ask, does such an antediluvian reflection arise this week in
September, 2007, as another winless Owl team girds its loins to travel to Austin to take
on yet another undefeated Texas Longhorn eleven? More....
gets to pick on someone his own size...
Texas Tech 59, Rice 24 More fight in dog
but same result
Rice All-American WR Jarett Dillard Saturday caught 6 for
90 yards, including a 47-yard TD strike from Chase Clement -- but the ones that got away
were the biggest ones (PTH photo)
Rice quarterback Chase Clement sees daylight ahead of him in first half action against
Texas Tech (PTH photo)
HOUSTON (Sept. 15) After witnessing a second consecutive
record-setting performance by an opposing quarterback, Rice Owl fans might logically be
inclined to view their cup as nine-tenths empty.
But those would be just the cynical pessimists among the Feathered Flock.
Optimists on South Main would more likely take the positive view, and consider their
frosted highball glass with the embossed jaunty blue Sammy Owl in the sailors cap on
the side to be ten per cent full.
Those optimists would dismiss Saturdays runaway, 59-24 Texas Tech victory as
being of lesser consequence, what with the surfacing of occasional hints of Rice 2006
offensive prowess, and the perception of improved play on both sides of the ball.
Pollyannas in the crowd would point to Rices mid-second-quarter comeback
drive to bring the Owls within 21-17 as emblematic of the Institute Boys real
potential, and ignore the 35 straight points that Tech hung on the scoreboard in the next
25 minutes of play and the six touchdown passes thrown with surgical precision by
Tech quarterback and head tortilla-tosser Graham Harrell.
Yea-sayers likely would agree with Rice head coach David Bailiffs
asssessment of what he saw out on the blisteringly-hot turf of Rice Stadium this day.
"I really thought today that we played with a lot more passion than we had
in the first two games; I was really proud of the guys for how they went out there and ran
around," Coach Bailiff said in a raspy voice at his post-game press conference. More....
Tech ready to explode,
Owls ready to deliver a
blow to Raider posterior
Owls need to convert on near-misses such as this one in
the Baylor game (Mark Anderson photo)
HOUSTON (Sept. 13) -- The Rice Owls return to the friendly confines
of Rice Stadium Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. televised matchup against an explosive Texas Tech
Red Raider team and coach that can be expected to be harboring two sentiments going into
to this week's contest: (a) an overwhelming desire to run up the score; and (b) an
overwhelming confidence -- would that it be overconfidence -- in their ability to run up
Those sentiments inevitably would have been derived watching game videos of
a Rice team that, thus far this year has fallen at home to 1-AA Nichols State before being
blasted, 42-17, last week by a Baylor team rolled up 512 yards total offense, 423 of them
through the air. And this, by an outfit that's not expected to be particularly competitive
in Big XII league play.
In fact, Tech head coach Mike Leach is so concerned about the outcome of the Rice game
this week that on Friday night, he's taking in the Astros baseball game at Minute Maid
Park, where he's slated to throw out the first pitch. Typical of the Tech coach -- he
can't even attend a baseball came without coming out throwing from the minute he gets to
Leach piled the sandbags high at his Monday press conference, when asked about
his perspective on the Owls. "They're an impressive team and they do some good
stuff," the off-beat Tech coach said. "We've got to go play good.'' More....
Part 3 of a series...
Coogs the big winner
in coverage increase Pros still running away with column-inches game
Newspaper Sleuth says it's about time for Ken Hoffman to chime in
HOUSTON (Sept. 13) -- We have been measuring the level of coverage
provided by the Houston Chronicle (both in news print and on-line) for selected college
football programs of interest to people in the community.At the end of the first month of coverage we have noted a few trends that
are a little surprising and have really seen a significant difference that the World Wide
Web is making in this arena.
By now, there is almost no use in saying that pro football continues
to receive the lion share of coverage here in Houston.Pre season football, especially when a game features the Texans and the
Cowboys was sure to generate plenty of ink.The
obligatory Bums son is coaching the Cowboys story surfaced a few days
before the pre-season event and there was much ado about the Texans pre-season victory.However, a few things have changed since the first
10 days of analysis.
1The Texans do not receive an entire page of news print (+) a day, like they
did during the early part of the month.It
looks like the full page a day media frenzy was coinciding with two-a day drills.
2The Texans continue to garner a place on the front page. With the exception
of 3 days in August, they were positioned on page one, either with a feature story, or a
pre or post game review.In total they were
front paged with an article or a teaser 40 times in 31 days yes, you can
have more than one front page feature a day ..
3We made it through August without the annual Ken Hoffman Look at the goodies you can eat at the Reliant
Stadium Concession Stand article or the Im
gonna be judging the best tail gate party at Reliant Stadium this year thanks to
Sponsor X, so make sure you act like a fool and give me free food
column. Be on the lookout for these epistles soon.
The Cowboys would have received little press if they had not been playing
the Texans in pre-season.It looks like the
Chronicle will not be covering America s team to the extent
that they have in the past. More....Our '04 Chronicle content analysis....
Let's move on....Next: Home for Tech....
Meltdown on the Brazos
Rice Athletic Director Chris del Conte ponders his
predicament as he observes Baylor offensive onslaught from a very lonely spot in the end
zone midway in the first quarter of the Rice-Baylor game Saturday (PTH photo)
Baylor 42, Rice 17
Owls continue woeful ways
in one-sided loss to Baylor
Rice quarterback Chase Clement completed 20- of- 25 passes and showed
flashes of the scrambling ability he so often demonstrated last season -- but the
Owls neverthe- less failed to put together a complete performance on offense (PTH
WACO (Sept. 9) On the way to rewriting his schools
record books, Baylor quarterback Blake Szymanski could have worn a lot more comfortable
outfit while competing against the Rice Owls on the torrid turf of Floyd Casey Stadium
Saturday in the late-afternoon, Brazos Bottom heat. Say, maybe, a tee shirt, gym shorts
and flip flops.
Such was the paucity of Rices pass rush, and so prolific were the open looks
of Bear receivers, the Wichita Falls sophomore had a relatively easy day in the park,
camping out leisurely in the pocket while he picked every pin feather, one by one, out of
the Owls defensive unit.
In the end, his six touchdown passes comprised an all-time Baylor record, and his
teams 30 completions and 423 total yards passing were typically more than the
leakiest Rice defense in recent years has been prone to surrender. Not only was the
relaxed and commanding Bear quarterback never sacked by Owl defenders he barely got
his hair mussed.
In so doing, not only did he visit upon the Institute Boys another demoralizing
loss but also established a plain and simple Google map for every offensive coordinator
yet to face the Owls this season.
Were here to tell you, coach its simple; heres how you
Simply get five of your biggest, fattest ol boys and plug them
cheek-by-jowl in your offensive front. Get into a Max Protection configuration and
go ahead and grip and grab and hold away because theres no
chance of your being called for it.
Marcus Knox showed flashes of brilliance against Nicholls Saturday (Mark Anderson
HOUSTON (Sept. 6) The Baylor Bears and the Rice Owls enter
this Saturdays contest running neck-and-neck for the Most Depressing Opening Game
award among major Texas college football programs. For while the Owls were getting
bushwhacked by Division 1-AA Nicholls State in their home opener last week, the Bears were
being handed a 27-0 shellacking at the hands of the TCU Horned Frogs on the road at Fort
This Saturdays 6:00 p.m. kickoff at Wacos Floyd Casey Stadium
thus assumes an even greater importance to each club than it perhaps did only a week ago.
For Baylor, a loss to the Owls, after having failed to dent the scoreboard the week
before, would mean two consecutive losses to non-BCS in-state rivals, thus rendering
highly problematical the matter of mere survival, much less respectability, among the big
bullies of the Big XII.
For the Institute, a loss would give rise to this basic question: if winning
seven games and a repeat bowl trip is considered a ground-level seasons goal for the
Owls, how does one project, then, a plausible scenario whereby the Owls go 7-3 the rest of
the way especially with Big XII big bullies Texas and Texas Tech standing next on
the schedule? More...
Bears are expecting a sweet time of it Saturday....
Should've been enough....
Rice reserve QB James Casey gets the job done as he dives
over the goal from two yards out, early in the second quarter to put Owls up 7-0 over
Nicholls (Mark Anderson photo)
Nicholls State 16, Rice 14
Could it get any
worse than this? Five turnovers key Owl offensive collapse
If at first you don't get caught...interfere, interfere
again -- you might even be able to get the refs to reverse a legitimate touchdown
reception (Mark Anderson photo)
HOUSTON (Sept. 2) Perhaps the worst strategic decision made
on the turf of Rice Stadium Saturday night came not from the Owl quarterback, not from the
head coach though both sources stunned the crowd of 11,800 with the length and
breadth of their miscreancy during the course of this excruciating, five and one-half hour
Nope, the worst decision came from the tongue of Rice Athletic Director Chris del Conte,
who, given the election of sending the teams home and pleading 'no contest' after the
second of two, hour-long, lightning-induced weather delays or electing to wait it
out and get the game in chose to stand fast and play ball.
The Rice Owls responded by imploding their own building here Saturday night, as a, shall
we say, less-than-imaginative offense yielded up five key turnovers en route to a 16-14
loss to an aroused, strutting and confident Nicholls State team.
The fancy banners which newly-adorn the stately, former-72,000- seat- edifice still
stand on a muggy Sunday morning. But down like so many tons of concrete and structural
steel have fallen the remains, not of a building, but of a rebuilding.
Gone is Rice All-American Jarett Dillard's 15-game touchdown reception streak, and with
it, his air of invincibility.
Down is Davey O'Brian candidate Chase Clement's uncanny, fleet-of-foot ability to turn a
hard rush into a long scramble, and with it, the seeming capability of making the right
decision in any key situation. More.... Box
Raines: "Yancy's got 85, 95 guys improving from head to toe..."
YANCYS TOP TEN LIST These are the top ten strongest Owls,
pound for pound: Brian Raines: power cleans 340; squats 602, bench press 352 George Chukwu: power cleans 386; squats 602; bench press
417 C. J. Ugowkwe: power cleans 303; squats 552; bench press
392 Terrance Garmon: power cleans 308; squats 517; bench press
Jon Turner: power cleans 276; squats 477; bench presses 357
Jarett Dillard: power cleans 315; squats 442; bench presses 277
Tommy Henderson: power cleans 286; squats 477; bench presses 307
Dietrich Davis: power cleans 350; squats 502; bench presses 362
Chris Ptaszek: power cleans 330; squats 512; bench press 422
Andrew Sendejo: power cleans 330; squats 472; bench presses 317