HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 30: Johnathan Franklin #23 of the UCLA Bruins runs for a 78 yard touchdown past Corey Frazier #20 and Jaylor Finner #25 of the Rice Owls in the second quarter of the game at Rice Stadium on August 30, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
We flip sides and take our first more in depth look at the Owl defense which is probably where the biggest concerns lie if you are a Rice fan. In last weeks opener the Owls gave up 646 yards to UCLA with equal emphasis on the run and the pass. UCLA's 343 yards on the ground is a pretty big number and a 9.3 yard per carry average by UCLA is even bigger. That would suggest that Kansas should be able to play to their strength from week one, run the ball effectively and hopefully get the rest of the offense in a rhythm during week two.
LE 90 Cody Bauer 6-4 255 Jr.-2L
NT 93 Hosam Shahin 6-3 290 Jr.-2L
DT 56 Christian Covington 6-3 290
RE 97 Jared Williams 6-2 250 Sr.-3L
On paper their aren't any glaring weaknesses when you look at the Rice defensive line. They aren't undersized in the same way that SDSU was. They have some experience and nothing would immediately suggest that they aren't going to be a competitive group. The good news is that none of these four seem to be the kind of player that SDSU's Andy Mink was although they might have a clear leader in the group.
Jerry Williams, No. 97, is clearly the leader of their defensive line. (Kansas offensive lineman) Tanner (Hawkinson) will have his hands full, because that's where the guy lines up most of the time. - Coach Weis
Any way you look at it the 343 yards put up by the UCLA running attack has to lead to some concern with this group and the linebackers. UCLA was also able to break off two 70+ yard runs in the process. Kansas should look to attack early and often on the ground and the Jayhawks certainly have a player or two capable of rattling off a big run as well. Rice will be looking to fix those issues, but the initial sample opens the door for the Kansas running attack.
SLB 57 Cameron Nwosu 5-10 235 Jr-2L
WLB 44 Kyle Prater 6-1 230 Sr.-1L
Prater was the leading tackler for the Owls and started his career at LSU. Nwosu blocked three kicks last week and was named special teams player of the week for Rice. This is a pretty good group for the Owls in their standard 4-2-5 set. Depending on the situation we'll see mostly a nickel set (4-2-5) but they also can go to a dime. These two provide a versatile base in the middle for the standard Rice set and they'll be tested as you can expect Charlie Weis will attack the Rice run defense after what occurred a week ago.
The secondary group was very active in week one. Some of that is a good thing, some of it is a bad thing. You don't necessarily want your secondary making all the tackles but Rice did have a large number of contributions in that area from these five. On the good side of things they were active against the pass breaking up passes and making plays throughout the game. The three players listed as safeties or KAT are all very capable of playing up or back so it is a 4-2-5 that can bring more players into the box as needed. Porras will most likely fill that role in order to provide stronger run support against Kansas.
NICKLE/Dime 11 Malcolm Hill 5-11 185 So.-1L
Hill is your true nickle/dime corner when Rice goes with that type of set.
Plenty of questions and concerns facing the Owl defense after one week of play. They sit near the bottom of college football in most major defensive categories. It is a small sample and they could certainly improve in a hurry, but if you're Kansas and you watched the UCLA Bruins run wild, it should provide some motivation and excitement.