Finding a consistent starting lineup was nearly impossible for Rice football in 2018, something they’ll look to change next season.
Rice shuffled so many different players in and out of their weekly lineups last year. Many true freshmen were asked, not just to play, but to assume starting roles. The tumultuous fluctuations prevented any sort of consistency along the way.
18 true freshman stepped onto the field for Rice last season. 10 played in less than four games and retained a season of eligibility. The remaining eight averaged a little less than 11 games played each, with four true freshmen — linebacker Antonio Montero, safety Prudy Calderon, corner Treshawn Chamberlain and long snapper Campbell Riddle — playing in all 13 contests.
The rise of so many freshmen was proof positive of an underlying trend of inconsistency. 55 different players started games for Rice on offense or defense last season. Seven started all 13 games. Injuries and scheme make it unrealistic to expect the same 11 to go the duration on each side of the ball, but seven is startlingly low.
Here’s how the listed starters looked at each position last season:
|Position||Unique Starters||True Freshman Starters||Position||Unique Starters||True Freshman Starters|
|WR||4||0||OLB / S||3||1|
The plethora of freshman who played meaningful roles last season are sophomores (or redshirt freshmen) now. In theory, it should be harder for so many true freshmen to contribute in similar ways in 2019 because of the experience of the group ahead of them.
Each side of the ball repeated a lineup just once. They’ll look to grow that consistency this season. Rice will likely start less true freshman in 2019, opening the door for less varied starting lineups and more consistent play from the team as a whole.
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