College Football News Preview 2020: Rice Owls Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Rice Owls Offense
It’s okay to open it up a bit. It might go against the whole point of the Rice style to start taking big shots down the field with a big passing game, but that’s where the strength should be.
The Owls only came up with more than 200 yards through the air four times and have just four 300-yard passing games over the last five seasons.
Either TCU transfer Mike Collins – more on that in a moment – or Wiley Green should be able to air it out a bit, and the receivers are in place with experience and talent to make defenses worry.
If opponents have to gameplan for the air attack – as long as it can do more than average 11 yards per catch and not be the worst in Conference USA – then the running game should start to open up. At the very least, doing more through the air on third downs would change things up.
Biggest Key To The Rice Owls Defense
Third down stops, third down stops, THIRD DOWN STOPS. Considering ball control and time of possession is a huge deal for what the coaching staff likes and wants to do, getting the defense off the field is a must.
In a perfect world – even if Rice really does use the passing game more – the O goes from keeping the ball for 31:28 per game to around 33 minutes per game. That happens with the defense coming up with stops.
It’s been a program problem, failing to allow fewer than 40% on third down chances in each of the last three seasons. Even in the 2016 season the D allowed 39.5%, and that was it for the last six years.
Allowing teams to convert 50% or more of their tries in six of the first nine games was a killer. The program is 0-21 since beating North Texas early in 2015 when teams are able to convert half of their third down chances.
Key Rice Owls Player To A Successful Season
QB Mike Collins, Sr.
It would be really, really, really nice if a superstar running back could emerge to revolve the offense around, but settling the quarterback situation is even more important.
Four players attempted at least five passes last year, and four Owls attempted at least 20 throws two years ago. Wiley Green has been a part of all of the fun and could see plenty of action, but the O needs Collins to be a star.
The 6-5, 225-pounder started out his career at Penn, moved over to TCU and saw a little starting time, and now he’s trying to come up with one big final season. He’s got the size, and he has the arm, and he has the receivers. Now he has to be solid.
Key Game To The Rice Owls Season
Army, Sept. 12
Rice hit well and kept Army to just 231 rushing yards with one score in the 14-7 loss in last year’s opener. The O simply couldn’t get things moving and score with just 243 yards of total offense.
The program needs the win this year.
It starts out against Houston to start, and it has LSU to follow. Lose to Army again, and it’ll likely be an 0-3 start. Win, and with Lamar coming up at the end of September, 2-2 is likely before diving into Conference USA play.
– Rice Owls Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Rice Fun Stats
– Penalties: Opponents 73 for 754 yards – Rice 45 for 354 yards
– Sacks: Opponents 33 for 183 yards – Rice 15 for 106 yards
– Fumbles: Rice 20 (lost 12) – Opponents 8 (lost 5)