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Playin’ Nice: Rice, Ft. Underdog Dynasty

Cyrus Smith of SB Nation’s mid-major blog Underdog Dynasty gives us some lowdown on the visiting Rice Owls.

Underdog Dynasty

1. Well, it hasn’t been pretty so far, but how has year one felt under Mike Bloomgren?

Aside from a really disappointing loss to UTEP two weeks ago, the results have played out as expected for the most part like we discussed back in spring. The encouraging start at the beginning of the season where Rice played Houston and Southern Miss tough, turned out to be fool’s gold. As it turns out, any team can score on Houston this season and Southern Miss isn’t doing too well either. The attrition that goes with playing a full season has worn down Rice’s depth and the results have been less than surprising. Entering the season Rice was projected to finish 127th in S&P+ and has seen their ranking drop from 127th to 129th in the middle of the year, holding steady at 129th over the past few weeks.

2. Has he kept true to his Stanford roots thus far?

I’d say yeah, and good on him for sticking to his philosophy, even though he has to take a lot of lumps in Year 1. Austin Walter, Emmanuel Esukpa, Aston Walter, and Juma Otoviano are each averaging over 3.5 yards per carry. Esukpa and Otoviano are the backs who are projected to return next season, and setting the foundation for them to succeed in the future is a must. Especially with how Rice’s quarterback situation has devolved into a musical chairs situation.

3. The Owls have played five different quarterbacks at times this year. What is the story there, and who can LSU expect to see on Saturday?

Where to begin. Shawn Stankavage surprised many by beating out last year’s starter Jackson Tyner. Rice’s offensive line has been a work in progress all season and Stankavage is more mobile than Tyner so the switch made sense, but Stankavage isn’t very good. Freshmen Wiley Green and Evan Marshman have looked like, well, freshmen. Exciting at times, but not too consistent. Of course, with this offensive line it’s hard to get a gauge as to who really is to blame. No one has looked great and my bet is projected incoming three-star QB Trevor Bycznski being the guy next season.

4. Any other names LSU fans should know for Saturday?

Aaron Cephus is a big-play wide out. If something good comes from the passing game via play-action, Cephus or Austin Trammell will be the ones responsible. Austin Walker is also someone who will see a lot of targets out of the backfield. Aside from those three, no Rice pass catcher has more than 25 targets. The defense is a downright mess but freshman Prudy Calderon is a bright spot as he leads the team with four interceptions.

5. Best guess as to how you see this one playing out?

I saw the opening line was somewhere around 43.5 and that sounds a bit much for my liking. The Owls will play a methodical style and LSU’s front seven should feast but this game could be over in less than two and a half hours the way both teams like to run the ball. LSU wins but I don’t think they cover.