FREE GBK Preview: Rice Owls

Gordon Larson, GBK Sr. Writer
Go Black Knights
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Not a subscriber to GBK? There’s no better time than now, as the Black Knights have kicked-off of their 2017 Army football season with a 3-2 start as Army now takes on the Rice Owls.

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GoBlackKnights.com continues our preview of Army Black Knights’ opponents for the 2017 season, with a peek at the 6th opponent on the schedule as Army West Point goes back on the road to take on the Rice Owls in Houston.

When: 5:30 PM (CT) 6:30 (ET), Saturday, October 7 in Houston, Tx.

Series Record: Army West Point is 2-4-1 against the Owls in a series that dates back to a win by Army in 1958.

Last Meeting: Sep 10, 2016 at Michie Stadium in Brandon Jackson’s final game, Rice jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but Army West Point scored twice in the first quarter, and once again in the second to take a 21-7 halftime lead. Army outscored Rice 10-7 in the second half for a 31-14 win, their second of the season, and first home win of 2016.

Rice’s Record 

2017 record to date (1-4 overall, 1-1 in C-USA): Rice started the season with an away game against Stanford (Sagarin #18) in Sydney, Australia, that the Cardinal won 62-7. Their next game was against UTEP (Sagarin #185) in El Paso where they earned their only win of the season to date by a score of 31-14. Their third game was another away game against Houston (Sagarin #39) that they lost 38-3, and they finally played a game at home the following week, a close loss to FIU (Sagarin #156), 13-7. This past weekend they traveled again to Pennsylvania, where Pitt (Sagarin #57) dominated them 42-10 in a game that was as lopsided as the score suggests. With 4 of their 5 games played on the road, including two of them against Power 5 teams, it’s difficult to get an accurate assessment of the Owl’s capabilities from their record to date. They are probably better than their 1-4 record suggests.

2016: Rice finished the 2016 season 2-6 in Conference USA and 3-9 overall. Their only conference wins came against Charlotte and UTEP and their third win of the season came against FCS opponent Prairie View.

Rice Offense

Rice prefers to run the ball with 186 rushing attempts versus 156 passing attempts this season. They run the spread option that we’ve seen many teams play recently.

2017 Stats after 5 games:

Scoring Offense: 11.6 points per game (128th in FBS)

Total Offense: 289 yards per game (120th in FBS)

Rushing Offense: 147.2 yards per game (77th in FBS)

Passing Offense: 141.8 yards per game (120th in FBS)

2016 Stats: Rice scored an average of 25.3 points per game. They rushed for an average 170 yards/game and passed for an average of 215 yards/game.

Quarterback: Army will face a different quarterback than the one they saw last season, as Rice has alternated sophomore Jackson Tyner and RS freshman Sam Glaesmann in the starting role. Tyner with 2 starts is 39 of 80 for 463 yards with 1 TD and 4 interceptions. Tyner has accumulated 27 net yards rushing in 17 attempts. Glaesmann has started 3 games and is 22 of 45 for 229 yards and 1 TD with 2 interceptions. Glaesmann has 25 net yards rushing in 19 carries. Both QBs have lost more yards rushing than their net gains. Clearly neither QB is much of a running threat, which could simplify the defensive planning.

Running Backs: The Owls have spread the rushing load across 6 RBs with Samuel Stewart currently in the lead with 191 net yards in 44 attempts (4.3 ave). Austin Walter is second in rushing yardage with 153, but he tops their list in yards per carry with a 5.5 average.

Receivers: Rice has spread the targets as well, with 3 of the top 5 receivers being running backs, including Stewart (2d) and Walter (5th). The leading Owl target is slotback Kylan Granson who has 12 catches for 99 yards. Aaron Cephus leads in reception yardage with 133 and average yards per catch at 19.

Offensive Line: Rice has 3 of the 5 linemen who started against Army last year on their current depth chart: Seniors Trey Martin (6-2, 300 lbs) at Center and Peter Godber (6-3, 300 lbs) at LG. The other returning starter from last year’s game is Junior RT Sam Pierce (6-6, 300 lbs). Junior Calvin Anderson (6-5, 300 lbs) is listed at LT with 2 VLs, and rookie Sophomore Crockett Mopry (6-4, 290) is listed as the starter at RG.


Rice Defense


Rice played a 4-3-4 against Army last season, but their current depth chart is configured as a 3-4-4. We used the current depth chart data to identify probable starters.

2017 Stats after 5 games:

Scoring Defense: Allowed 33.8 pts per game (106th in FBS)

Total Defense: Allowed 423.8 yds per game (72d in FBS)

Rushing Defense: Allowed 122.2 yds per game (35th in FBS) (3.7 ave per attempt)

Passing Defense: Allowed 301.6 yds per game (122d in FBS)

2016 Stats: Rice gave up an average of 37.3 points per game ; allowed an average of 217 yards rushing and 288 yards passing.

Defensive Line (per depth chart): Sophomore Zach Abercrumbia (6-4, 300 lbs) is listed ad the starter at NT and did not play in last year’s game against Army. Sophomore Roe Wilkins (6-3, 265 lbs) listed as the starter at LE appeared as a reserve in last year’s game. Junior RE Preston Gordon (6-1, 280 lbs) is the only returning starter from last year’s defensive line.

Linebackers: Senior WILL Brian Womak (6-2, 250 lbs) started at LE in last year’s game and could be the 4th DL if Rice goes to the 4-3 again this year. Grad Student DJ Green with 3 VLs is listed as the starting MLB. He did not participate in last year’s game. Junior Martin Nwakamna (6-1, 210 lbs) listed as the starter at SAM LB, saw action in reserve against Army last year. Senior Emanuel Ellerbe (6-1, 235) started at SAM last year and is currently listed as the MO (whatever that is).

Defensive Backs: Junior SS JT Ibe (6-0, 200 lbs) started at FS last year and is likely to be their best defender against the triple option this year. Junior Brandon Douglas-Dotson (5-9, 180) returns at one CB position, while Sophomore Justin Bickham (6-1, 195 lbs) will get his first look at the triple option from the other CB position. Senior Destri White (6-0, 215 lbs) did not play in last year’s game at Michie.

2017 Season Outlook

Rice is expected to finish at or near the bottom of the C-USA west division, although their win against UTEP is likely to keep them out of the cellar.

Outlook For The Game

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The Rice game could be pivotal in Army West Point’s quest for back-to-back bowl games. The loss to Tulane was a minor setback, offset by the expected win over UTEP which put the Black Knights back on the winning side of the ledger. In the quest for bowl eligibility the difference between a 4-2 record and a 3-3 record is big, especially considering the strength of the remaining schedule.

Rice is not a good team by any standard, but they’re probably a better team than UTEP and they will have the home field advantage. The Black Knights have to bring their A game and get off to a better start than the last two. The injury/eligibility status of a few key players is still unknown at this point, which could be a factor.

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