Kramer has connected on 52.6% of his passes and has been intercepted only 12 times in 403 attempts. Because of his quick setup and release, Kramer has been sacked but 14 times although the Owl offensive line is constantly being shuffled and patched up because of injuries.
The SMU game two weeks ago was more than a little typical of a Kramer performance. With Rice losing (what else?) 34-27 with less than four minutes to play, Kramer fired a barrage that took the Owls to two touchdowns and a 41-34 victory. When the game was over, Kramer had completed 29 of 45 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Eleven of those passes were caught by Running Back James Sykes. Doug Cunningham, who has played his last five games with a splint on a broken finger, caught the touchdown pass that enabled Rice to tie the game at 34-all. The winning touchdown came on a six-yard pass to Tight End Ken Roy. After last week's 38-6 loss to Baylor, Sykes is second in the nation in pass receptions, averaging 6.7 a game, and Cunningham is third with a 6.3 average.
As a blue-chipper at San Antonio's Lee High School, where he threw 55 scoring passes in two seasons, Kramer was one of the most sought-after athletes in Texas.
"Notre Dame really wanted him bad," says Mark Bockeloh, a linebacker who is Kramer's roommate. "If he had gone there, they would have been national champions twice."
Kramer, however, elected to go to Rice. "I wanted to stay in Texas," he says, "and you're not going to get a better degree out of the state of Texas."
Now Kramer looks at his decision philosophically. "Naturally I'd like to be with a winner," he says. "That's the American dream. But you're going to face adversity throughout life and I think how well you can adjust to it is going to mean a lot to you later on. We've had some bad times, but I don't regret coming to Rice even though we didn't win a lot of football games. As far as my life is concerned, it's helped me out tremendously."
The Rice offense also should prove to be a big help to Kramer in the pro football draft, assuming there is one. Pro scouts low-rated him early in the season, but his worth has risen with every pass completion. It did not hurt him one bit when he hit 34 of 57 for 397 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-15 loss to Texas.
"He's a good pro prospect," says Norm Pollom of the Rams. "He's got a good arm, he's smart, he handles the offense well. He's not the fastest, but he can move around if he has to. I think he could be a first-round choice."
Gil Brandt of the Cowboys agrees. "He's got great potential," Brandt says. "He's an athlete—that's No. 1—and he's a natural dropback passer, which everyone in the NFL wants because we haven't developed too many. You'll really be able to see how good he is when he gets into a game like the Senior Bowl."