Rice travels to the Commonwealth to take on Old Dominion as the 2017 season starts to reach its end. A few keys and thoughts for the Owls.
Owl true freshman quarterback Miklo Smalls is a revelation. The most explosive dual-threat Rice quarterback in recent memory. His upside is tremendous. For Smalls the keys to his third ever start are:
- Protect the football
- When all else fails, run.
- Did we mention protecting the football?
Smalls compiled 495 yards of total offense in his last two games. For the Owls, that's easily the most productive any player's been all season. Smalls is a foundation piece for the next coach to build around.
The other Ellerbe
By now you've heard of Emmanuel Ellerbee, but get to know Ellerbe with one "e," sophomore running back Nashon. Last week Ellerbe rushed for 153 yards on 22 carries. The Owl's running back room looks more like a mash unit, so Ellerbe, who previously served more as a return man, has received more attention out of the backfield. The Sophomore from Frisco is compact and direct in his running style and hard to deal with in the open field.
The Owls defensive unit played reasonably well against comparable opponents. Rice's 3-4 look allowed 20 points or less to UTEP, FIU, and UTSA. However, in their last three games, the Owls have struggled to keep more prolific teams out of the end zone. They've allowed 42, 53, and 43 points to Louisiana Tech, UAB, and Southern Miss in successive weeks. Rice's defense is a bend, keep bending, and hope you don't have to bend much more. The Owls have held just two opponents to less than 400 yards of total offense this year. Old Dominion is far from an offensive juggernaut, but chances are they'll have a good day against the Owls.
Notes and Numbers:
This second meeting between the two schools, with ODU holding a 1-0 lead after winning 45-42 in 2014.
Rice outside linebacker Brian Womac leads C-USA in both sacks (8) and TFL (16.5) and is tied for seventh in the country with his 61 yards on sacks, tied for ninth with 8 sacks and tied for 11th with .80 sacks per game.
Rice has averaged 426 yards per game over the last three games.
Rice receiver Aaron Cephus has tied Jarett Dillard with fve touchdown receptions as a freshman and he needs 18 yards to surpass James Casey for the most yards receiving by a freshman.
Saturday is Old Dominion's homecoming game.
For the season the Monarchs are -8 in turnover margin.
Monarch return man Isaiah Harper has three kickoff return touchdowns on the season, an ODU single-season record and tied for the most this season with Tony Pollard of Memphis and Marcus Green of Louisiana Monroe.