Rice vs. Tulane Preview - Part 2

Battered and bruised, the 2009 Owl Defense has found a way to stop opposing Offenses just enough to win games this year. Playing in New Orleans this weekend presents another stiff test for Rice...

Just as Defensive depth seemingly improves for the Rice Owl Football team, another starter gets banged up and in comes a true freshman. And so its gone the first couple of seasons for David Bailiff's Owls.

The Rice Defense has been forced to play several true freshmen again this year, but have shown signs of improvement nonetheless - maybe not to the untrained eye, but incremental gains are being measured and noted as progress.

We look at the Tulane Offense today. Running the football is their strength behind the able legs of Andre Anderson.

Pos ## Offense

SC 83 Brian King, 6-1 191

FL 15 Michael Batiste, 6-3 192

LT 77 Troy Kropog, 6-6 315> LG 78 Nick Landry, 6-7 295

C 65 Michael Parenton, 6-2 287

RG 68 Andrew Nierman, 6-1 294

RT 58 Pete Hendrickson, 6-7 297

TE 80 Justin Kessler, 6-4 249

QB 2 Kevin Moore, 6-5 234

SE 3 Chris Dunn, 6-2 220

TB 32 Andre Anderson, 6-0 211

Leading Rusher - Andre Anderson has picked right up where rookie Chicago Bear Matt Forte left off last year. The junior from Georgia is on pace to rush for 1704 yards this year, an amazing stat. Anderson is a nice balance of power and speed, and Tulane will no doubt try to get him into a rhythm early on as part of their ball control, clock grinding Offense.

Strength of Unit - based on their success running the ball, you'd have to say the Green Wave Offensive Line is the strength of their Offense. They have some big bodies on the line, and love to try and wear down Defenses with them.

Players To Watch - Besides Anderson, WR Jeremy Williams, a Baytown native, has big play capability. He leads Tulane in Receiving and has an impressive 16.2 ypc average. Problem for Tulane is he may not play after being injured earlier this year. Senior Brian King has picked up the slack in Williams' absence somewhat.

Rising Star - Freshman FB Kasey Stelly is doing a heck of a job blocking for Andre Anderson. He's just a true freshman, but at 6-1 245 pounds he's a load. Also QB Kevin Moore is just a sophomore.

Inside the Numbers - Tulane has an average time of possession of 34:43 minutes in each game. Which is one of the tops in the country. This is probably more important than any of their other numbers because they rely so heavily on controlling the clock to keep their Defense off the field. They've had a lot of success, the Green Wave averages just 59 snaps of playing time in each game. The Tulane Offense does have a few shortcomings though, they are just 7-for-17 in red-zone touchdowns and have a somewhat low scoring average by C-USA standards, only 20.3 points per game.

Tulane Offensive Keys to the Game - No secret - keep the ball away from Rice, hand it to Andre Anderson, score more points than their current season average, and most importantly for them, win the time of possession battle.

Rice Defense

Rice had an excellent week of practice and really focused on tackling. They know exactly what Tulane plans on doing - its a matter of who can execute their game Saturday. Rice moved DE Aaron Williams back to Linebacker. Williams had a good week at his old position and is now the biggest Rice LB at 6-3 235.

Rice Defensive Keys to the Game

Rice must force Tulane to go 3 and out as much as possible and get the ball into Chase Clement's hands. If the Owls can pile up some early points they force Tulane out of what they like to do Offensively. Then they can force mistakes and create turnovers - a key to Owl victories this year.

Game time in the Superdome is set for 2:00 pm Saturday, carried locally by 97.5 ESPN and on the net by OwlVision.

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