In this series we will look at the Army West Point Black Knights football opponents for the 2016 season. Today the school we are looking at is Rice.
Date/time/location/TV: September 10, Noon EST, Michie Stadium, West Point, NY., CBS Sports Net
2015 Record: 5-7 (3-5 C-USA). No Bowl Game.
Head Coach: David Bailiff. Tenth year at Rice (53-60).
Series History: Rice 4-1-1.
Last Meeting: Rice beat Army 38-31 on October 24, 2015. The winning play was a 13-yard pass from Driphus Jackson to Zach Wright with 24 seconds left in the game.
Top Returners: RB Darik Dillard (Sr.) 698 yards rushing and 5 TDs in 2015. LT Calvin Anderson (So.) 12 career starts. LB Alex Lyons (Sr.) 77 tackles in 2015.
Key Losses: QB Driphus Jackson, 2348 yards passing and 18 passing TDs in 2015. C Andrew Reue and RT Caleb Williams, 84 career starts combined.
What You Need To Know: The bottom fell out for Rice in 2015 after a nice run that had seen them competing in the top half of Conference USA for the previous few seasons. Against anyone with any offensive firepower, the Owls were significantly overmatched, especially as QB Driphus Jackson went from a game-changing scrambler to annoyingly mistake prone seemingly overnight.
Much like Army the Owls will be banking on the fact that the team was young to provoke a change of fortune in 2016. The Owls return four running backs who carried the ball at least 70 times in 2015 and seven players who were targeted by at least 17 passes. This depth will be important as a quarterback battle plays out to see who starts the season as the new signal caller for the Owls.
The story is similar on defense where the Owls return nine starters to a unit that was gashed by both good teams and bad last fall. Giving up 10.2 yards per play to Baylor looks bad, but it is acceptable given the Bears ability. No team, however, should be giving up 7.7 yards per play to North Texas who were hands down one of the worst teams in the country. This unit needs a better pass rush, more active linebackers, and a secondary that makes the occasional play if the Owls are to be any better in 2016.
2015 Stats That Matter (FCS): Offensive points per game, 87th; Defensive points per game, 108th.
Fun Fact: There is a wall on campus known as the 'Frog Wall' for the croaking noises it makes when running fingers over the holes.
Famous Alumni: Robert Woodrow Wilson (Astronomer), Alberto R. Gonzales (Lawyer)