2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Rice Offense
Convert a third down chance. How bad was it? Army led the nation, converting over 57% of its third down tries. Akron converted a miserable 29% of the time, and Rice was a half-click below that, finishing dead last in college football converting 28.72%.
No, really, how bad was it? The Owl offense failed to hit 30% in any of its last five games, after earlier getting destroyed by UAB after converting just one of 17 chances.
Biggest Key To The Rice Defense
The defensive line has to come together in a really, really big hurry. This wasn’t exactly a rock last year when the line was part of a D that was dead last in Conference USA in sacks and tackles for loss, but at least it held up reasonably well at times against the run. Now it’s gutted after a few key departures, forcing the coaching staff to all but start over to find the right blend for the front three.
Key Player To A Successful Season
RB Juma Otoviano, Soph.
Or Nahshon Ellerbe, but everyone else is gone. The 5-10, 197-pound Otoviano showed off his upside late in the season when he finally got the ball and tore off 224 yards and two scores in the win over Old Dominion. Ellerbe led the way in 2017 with 409 yards and six touchdowns as he tried to return healthy after getting late in 2016. These two have to make the ground game do what it’s supposed to.
Key Game To The Rice Season
at UTSA, Oct. 19
Outside of a massive upside, the most reasonable shot at getting the first win of the season doesn’t come until Week 7. Last year, UTSA – who couldn’t score on a … go ahead and finish that joke yourself – ended up beating Rice 20-3.
This time around, the game is San Antonio, but the Owls get a week off to prepare. With only one other game the rest of the way – at UTEP to close things out – when the Owls probably won’t be a massive underdog, beating the Roadrunners is a moral imperative.
– Rice Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Rice Fun Stats
– Red Zone TDs: Opponents 41-of-54 – Rice 18-of-32
– Time of Possession: Rice 32:41 – Opponents 27:19
– Passing Yards Per Attempt: Opponents 9.29 – Rice 6.17