Rice Owls Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Rice season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Rice Owls Preview
Head Coach: Mike Bloomgren, 11-31, 5th year at Rice
2021 Preview: Overall: 4-8, Conference: 3-5
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Rice Top 10 Players | Rice Schedule
Rice Owls Preview 2022
It’s SO hard to win at Rice.
Small school, brilliant academics, tough requirements – it takes everything to work right for the program to succeed, and it’s been tough under Mike Bloomgren to build this thing up.
It might not seem like much, but winning the regular season finale against Louisiana Tech last year to get to four wins on the year was great.
The program hadn’t cracked the three-win mark since 2015, and the last winning season was in 2014 with an 8-5 run and a bowl victory.
That year, most of Conference USA had problems – Rice came up with a whole lot of wins over bad teams – and its offense was great, and that’s what has to happen this time around.
And more than that, this is the year to come through with something big before taking off for the American Athletic Conference.
The program is moving up, it’ll get a bigger profile, and it has something to shoot for.
But first, Bloomgren has to win. 11-31 in four years, he has to show that he’s the one to lead the program into the new era. He built the thing up to this point, and now it all has to work.
Rice Owls Preview 2022: Offense
The offense had its moments. Controlling the clock hasn’t been a problem – the Owls were tenth in the nation and No. 1 in Conference USA holding the ball for well over 33 minutes a game – and the passing game was solid as the season went on, but turnovers were a problem and the ground attack has to be stronger.
There are enough parts to be better, but averaging more than 21.5 points per game is a must.
The offensive line has to be stronger. It was good in pass protection, but it needs to blast away a little more around the bulk of 300-pound Clay Servin and 330-pound Faae Pepe on the left side. 311-pound Shea Baker is a solid center.
Leading rusher Ali Broussard is back after averaging close to five yards per carry with 569 yards and three scores, but the offense needs to come up with a good rotation. 5-5, 160-pound Cameron Montgomery is a lightning quick option in space.
The Owls got production from the passing game, but they need consistency out of the position. Veteran Wiley Green will likely take over, but former JUCO transfer TJ McMahon will provide a push.
The receiving corps will be a strength even with top target Jake Bailey bailing for SMU. Cedric Patterson averaged over 15 yards per catch with a team-high six scores, Tulsa transfer Sam Crawford could be a dangerous No. 1 target, and former Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey will be an interesting wide receiver option.
Helping even more is the return of 2019 star target Bradley Rozner, who played only one game over the last two seasons.
Rice Owls Preview 2022: Defense
Rice played lots and lots and lots and lots of guys on defense, and now this is a relatively deep group with more options after struggling throughout last year. The D gave up 36 points and 436 yards per game, but it came up with takeaways and there was a bit of a pass rush.
The top tackler was on the nose. Elijah Garcia is done, but the defense relies on the line to make things happen. Former offensive lineman Izeya Floyd is a 326-pounder who’ll take over on the inside, and there’s more quickness in the interior from Ikenna Enechukwu – he’s the team’s leading returning sacker with 4.5.
Playmaking LB Antonio Montero left for Villanova and Desmyn Baker took over for WKU. Aidan Siano got his feet wet last year and should work in the middle, but the D needs big plays from Kenneth Orji and Treshawn Chamberlain on the outside.
There weren’t a lot of picks from the corners, but Jordan Dunbar, Sean Fresch, and Miles McCord combined to make a whole lot of plays to go along with the rough days against the better downfield attacks. Sophomore S Gabe Taylor led the way with three interceptions and made 56 stops – he’ll be a bigger factor.