Well, that was...something. UTSA got back to .500 and more importantly 2-1 in conference. Rice? Well Rice is getting a participation ribbon this season. They're 0-6. Saturday night in Houston, it wasn't pretty, and #collegekickers made a couple of appearances, but UTSA got a big win. Here's what we saw:
Winning is Hard, Winning on the Road is Real Hard
The lesson here is simple, there are no gimme's, winning is hard and it gets real hard on the road. Rice started quickly off a bye week with touchdown and then a missed extra point that would indeed come back to haunt them. Oh, did it haunt them.
UTSA had a chance to salt the game in the fourth on a fourth down at the Owl two yards line, but the Roadrunners' fourth down attempt was stopped short. The Owls' moved down the field, 71 yards in three minutes. Tyler Stehling went 4-4 for 43 yards on the drive, but the Owls left in the hands of their kicker. Again. Again things didn't go well.
Rice would have one more desperation drive that started with 29 seconds remaining. It was keystone cops and time ran out. Seriously keystone cops.
Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams
Statistically the game was remarkably even, Rice outgained the Roadrunners 351 to 334 and both quarterbacks played well enough. Time of possession was basically split and each team had a turnover. The biggest disparity was UTSA's eight penalties to Rice's three. When a game is that evenly matched it typically hinges on redzone opportunities and special teams.
This one hinged on special teams. A missed extra point, a fumbled punt, and a missed field goal all led to a Rice loss and a UTSA win. We already talked about #collegekickers and they had a rough one. In the second Rice stalled a UTSA drive, forcing a punt. Rice's return man, coughed it up and one play later UTSA enjoyed a 14-6 lead.
For Rice, especially in 2016, the margin for error is so slim. They can't forfeit scoring opportunities. On Saturday night the Owl special teams cost four points and helped give UTSA excellent field position that the Roadrunners converted into a second touchdown.
Josiah Tauaefa Continues to Be a Tackling Machine
UTSA's Josiah Tauaefa made 10 stops last night, his fourth double digit tackling performance in six games. Last night he also contributed a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Tauaefa currently sits 10th in the FBS in tackles and averages 11 tackles per game.
All that and he's just a redshirt freshman seeing his first playing time. Keep an eye on Josiah. Opposing offensive coordinators certainly are.
UTSA continues to Texas tour, hosting UTEP next week. Rice get Prairie View at home. That's gotta be a win, right?