0-5 Rice is Looking for Answers

Way back in 2014 Rice football was the bell of the ball, an academic institution in the midst of a three year bowl run and coming off a CUSA Championship. 

Last years team went 5-7 with a young defense and a number of key injuries. We predicted a return to prominence for Rice. We were wrong. We feel shame. At 0-5 what does Rice do? Pack it in? Call it a night? Return to their calculators? Hell no. Rice scheduled 12 games, minimum, and we're going to require a 12 game schedule. 

Here's Rice's statistical profile. A LOT of RED.  

RICE Offense Value Nat'l Rank RICE Defense Value Nat'l Rank
Points/Game 20.2 105 Opp Points/Game 40.2 115
Yards/Game 335.8 109 Opp Yards/Game 568.4 128
Points/Play 0.274 106 Opp Points/Play 0.521 109
Yards/Play 4.6 114 Opp Yards/Play 7.4 128
3D Conversion % 34.21% 94 Opp 3D Conv % 41.18% 77
4D Conversion % 50.00% 57 Opp 4D Conv % 62.50% 85
RZ Scoring % 85.71% 58 Opp RZ Scoring % 85.71% 65

Red is bad. Yellow is technically bad, though not as bad as red. Still bad. So...what does Rice do well?

According to Bill Connelly's advanced statistics, the Owls are 26th in adjusted line yards, so the Owls offensive line has played somewhat better than the statistics indicate. In the same vein on standard down, i.e. neutral down and distance, the Owls are ranked 35th in terms of run rate. So the Owls have a pretty good success rate running the ball.

Defensively, the Owls are ranked 21st in stopping the run on standard downs. Further, and we're grasping here, if it's a passing down, and the opponent runs the football, Rice is the seventh best defensive unit in America at stopping that run. So, if you're facing third and long and you think "Hey, let's run a draw!" don't try it. Rice is sniffing that stuff out. 

Defensively, against the pass, the Owls deploy a scheme that involves hope mostly, but nothing concrete in terms of stopping the pass. Rice is dead freaking last at yards per completion and second to last in all the FBS in passing yards allowed per game with 355. By the way, in conference the Owls are allowing 455.7 yards a game. They've twice allowed 550 yards or more passing to conference opponents, Western Kentucky opened the season with 554 yards against the Owls. Then in the Owls last outing vs. Soutern Mississippi, they allowed the Golden Eagles to torch them for 591 yards. 

Rice welcomes UTSA to Rice Stadium on Saturday night in a game that yes, Rice can in fact win. But the Owls will need to accentuate the positive by running the ball and controlling the clock and more importantly, avoid another shelling from a conference opponent's passing game.  

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Posted on October 12, 2016 and filed under Southwest Round-Up.