Sixteen facts you need to know about Rice before tomorrow’s Conference USA championship game against Marshall.
1) The Owls are powered by one of college football’s top rushing attacks. Ranked 17th in the nation, Rice averages 236.92 yards on the ground per game.
2) If the Owls rushing attack is an engine, it has many pistons. The main driving force is 6-foot-1, 235 lbs., running back Charles Ross. A bruising runner, he has rumbled for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. One thing to keep in mind on Saturday, Ross was benched during the Owls last two games after fumbling.
3) While Ross is the thunder, freshman running back Jawon Davis is the lightning. The diminutive (5-foot-7) scatback has rushed for 455 yards on 88 carries in his first year of college football.
4) Quarterback Taylor McHargue is also a key cog in the Owls run game. In last year’s 54-51 OT loss to Marshall, he rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. McHargue is more than just a running threat, he has completed over 52% of his passes this season for 2,065 yards, 16 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
5) McHargue’s favorite target is Jordan Taylor. The junior wide receiver has caught a team high 48 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns. Rice will be without third leading receiver Turner Peterson on Saturday. The running back injured his knee against Tulane last week and is out the remainder of the season.
6) Rice has attempted the third fewest amount of passes (313) in Conference USA, but they have also allowed the third most sacks (33).
7) Conference offensive rankings:
Total Offense – 3rd (420.5 ypg)
Scoring Offense – 5th (30.6 ppg)
Passing Offense – 11th (181 ypg)
Rushing Offense – 1st (239.50 ypg)
8) Christian Covington is one of the best defensive tackles in C-USA. He leads Rice with four sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. Last year against Marshall he recorded a single game best seven tackles.
9) The Rice defense also boast C-USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Phillip Gaines. One of the Owls two excellent corners, he leads his team with four interceptions.
10) The other half of Rice’s cornerback duo, Bryce Callahan has registered an Owl high eight pass breakups this season.
11) The backend of Rice’s secondary matches the talent at corner. Safety Paul Porras is second on the team with 70 tackles. He is joined by fellow safety Malcolm Hill and his three interceptions this season.
12) A former walk-on, linebacker Michael Kutzler leads the Owls with 79 tackles.
13) Conference defensive rankings:
Total Defense – 2nd (349.4 ypg)
Scoring Defense – 5th (22.8 ppg)
Passing Defense – 2nd (189.96 ypg)
Rushing Defense – 6th (159.50 ypg)
14) Rice kicker Chris Boswell has won the C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week award three times this season and has been named to the 2014 Senior Bowl roster. For the year Boswell’s converted 14 of 21 field goal attempts with a long of 56 yards. He has also booted a C-USA high 54 touchbacks.
15) Owls punter James Farrimond averages 41.81 yards per attempt, good enough for 5th in C-USA.
16) Rice has not returned a punt of kick for a touchdown this season. I don’t have the individual breakdown, but they have blocked four kicks/punts.