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Head Coach: Todd Graham (1st year) 2005 Record: 1-10, H/T5th
Location: Houston, TX Turf: Artificial Capacity: 70,000 Seating Chart:
Rice has not been to a bowl since 1961 and recorded just 3 winning seasons from 1962-1995 but Ken Hatfield had 3 winning seasons out of his 12 years here. Rice is a small school with just 42,806 alumni and only 4,973 enrollment. They must try to fill a 70,000 seat home stadium and last year they avg just 10,072 fans. Hatfield treated his program like a service academy as he used a lot of senior starters and in their most recent winning seasons (1997 and 2001) the team was loaded with veterans. In 2002 they finished 4-7 after losing 3 WAC games by a total of 11 points. After a horrible start to the 2003 season, they won four of their last 5 finishing 5-3 in WAC play and they outgained league foes by 39.9 ypg gaining momentum for 2004. Hatfield had one of his most veteran squads in 2004 with 15 starters back but a 28 yard int return for a TD by SJSt cost them a 3-1 start and a close loss to Navy (by 1) saw them stumble to a 3-8 record. Going into last year they had just 3 senior starters on defense, the fewest in the NCAA. They opened with 4 straight road games including trips to UCLA and National Champion Texas and the team never recovered, finishing just 1 -10. Hatfield, the 5th winningest active coach last year (168), had 5 years left on his contract but was let go after the season despite appearing poised for success in 2006 with 17 returning starters (tied lor most in CUSA) and having played a ton of frosh last year. It was their worst year since 1988 (0-11). Other key factors that have them poised for success this year is that they were -17 in turnovers (pg 312) and 29 of their top 44 players were either frosh or soph with just 10 seniors. The question mark for Graham this year is the changing of offensive philosophies from the option to the pass and you can ask schools like Nebraska, Syracuse and New Mexico St how well that transition works in its first season. That switch will make it tough for them to improve upon last year's 21.9 ppg despite 10 returning starters on offense. The D has 7 starters back and can only be tougher after allowing 40.6 ppg in '05, their highest since 1977 when they gave up a school record 41.6 ppg.
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