Rice Riding The 'Bone On Five-Game Winning Streak

It isn't every year that Rice boasts a longer winning streak than Texas when the two occasionally renew their old SWC rivalry. But what hasn't changed over the years is the Owls' wishbone offense. The spread option gives Rice "a real advantage because you don't see it very often," head coach Mack Brown said following Wednesday's practice.

Because very few teams still operate out of the 'bone, the Texas defense spent the bye week, and much of this week, adapting to a formation that was once a mainstay in college football but now largely a relic.

"(The wishbone) demands that the defense be disciplined on everything they do," said Brown. "Its been challenging for us, but we're still going to work on it tomorrow."

DE coach Dick Tomey and Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson, who have not faced this type of offense in many years, are prepared to shut down Rice's potentially potent attack.

"I've been impressed with both Tomey's knowledge and Robinson's knowledge of option," added Brown.

The Owls average 284 ypg (NCAA No. 9) this season while FB Ed Bailey has carried the load, mainly on lead dives. Bailey gained 234 yards on 37 attempts in Rice's 41-29 win over Hawaii Saturday.

"Our guys get excited about the option because it does make you do the right thing every time," the Texas head coach said. "Take the wrong step and Bailey is going to score."

Rice is riding a five-game winning streak, dating back to last season. Although those wins have come against less than stellar competition (SMU, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Houston, Hawaii), it's a step in the right direction for a program that is staring up at Fresno State and Boise State in the WAC standings.

"The offense is the same, and most of the same players," Brown said. "They are just better and more experienced."

Still, it will be a cold day in August before Brown suggests an easy win.

"We'll see Rice play with the same attitude that we saw Arkansas play with," he said. "A really close game is what I expect."

Texas, of course, patented the wishbone offense during the height of Darrell Royal's glory days en route to a school record 30-game winning streak (1968-1970).

"It has to be an exciting week for our fans because our fans watched the wishbone for so many years," Brown said. "It brings a little history back in here. We won national championships with this offense."

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