Rice Owls College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Rice Owls Biggest Key: Offense
Run it better … run it better … run it better. If you’re a program with a coaching staff that wants to pound away and control the clock on the ground, the rushing attack has to work. The offense has the time of possession thing down, but the offensive line hasn’t been able to generate any sort of a consistent push.
There’s experience up front, there’s upside in the backfield, and there’s likely going to be a quarterback under center in JoVani Johnson who can move. The ground game has to do more than the 2.8 yards per carry last year with one touchdown.
Rice Owls Biggest Key: Defense
Get into the backfield. The defense wasn’t all that bad and it got stronger as the season went on, but there wasn’t nearly enough playmaking in the backfield for a team with so much quickness on the outside.
The Owls managed just 22 tackles for loss – just 4.4 per game – with just seven sacks in the five games. Even worse, six of those seven sacks came in two games. Basically, the D has to be far more disruptive.
Rice Owls Key Player To A Successful Season
QB JoVani Johnson, RFr.
And Luke McCaffrey. Mike Collins threw ten touchdown passes and one pick, but even more than that, he brought the grad transfer-level maturity to the position as the offense was able to overcome a slew of issues with an efficient passing attack. Collins was good, but he wasn’t a runner. Johnson is.
Johnson hit 73% of his passes for 225 yards and a score – he was great late in the win over Marshall and the fight against UAB – and added 83 rushing yards. If he’s solid – or if McCaffrey takes over – the rest of the veteran team should quickly rise up.
Rice Owls Key Game To The 2021 Season
Southern Miss, Oct. 2
If things go according to form, Rice will likely start out the year 0-3 against Arkansas, Houston and Texas before beating Texas Southern. Then it’s Conference USA time with the opener against a Southern Miss team the Owls beat 30-6 last year.
Lose, and with the next two games on the road at UTSA and UAB, it’s going to be a rough first half of the season.
2020 Rice Owls Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Rice 36:00 – Opponents 24:00
– Sacks: Opponents 17 for 120 yards – Rice 7 for 46 yards
– Fumbles: Rice 10 (lost 6) – Opponents 4 (lost 3)