Well Longhorn fans, it is that time of year again. Texas vs. Rice, Saturday 22, 2007 at 6pm.
Why indeed? I always enjoy football, particularly home Texas games. The atmosphere, the tailgating, the Longhorn comradery and the legitimate excuse to pop open a beer before noon. You might not think much of Rice as an opponent but, [Insert my typical, long, drawn-out rant about how playing teams like this can do nothing but hurt us. Win big, win small, lose – doesn’t matter. Still hurts us.] let’s just hope this is another great game enjoyed by all.
Wasn’t that benevolent?
We introduced you to Rice last year by showing you a bit about Owl traditions, but this year we’d like to take a more in-depth look at some Owl statistics for this season.
Rice has played three teams: Nicholls State, Baylor and Texas Tech. All three were losses. Rather than focus on the negative, we’re going to take the stats game by game and walk you through the strengths and improvements of Rice. I didn’t take the time to make my long rant about playing teams like Rice, and I won’t do it here either. However, if Texas wins by only a touchdown or two – things could get very, very ugly come October 6th. If Rice can play their strengths and exploit our weaknesse (which are numerous), they’ll be able to shut us down.
(Credit where it is due. This post not possible without the help of ESPN and cfbstats.com)
Nicholls – 117 yards, Baylor – 110, Texas Tech – 99
What does this mean? This is a fair number of yards. Nicholls and Baylor aren’t exactly powerhouse opponents, but the Owls can make some runs. The average yards per carry over the three games decreased but that makes sense considering the increasing difficulty of opponent.
The rushing is led by C. J. Ugokwe who has picked up 157 yards so far and averages 4 yards per carry. Not much statistical improvement here over the first three games, but again, likely tougher defenses.
Nicholls – 28 attempts, 11 compl, 101 yards, Baylor – 30, 23, 239, Texas Tech – 38, 20, 212.
What does this mean? Rice has improved over the course, in spite of more challenging opponents in the air. Junior QB Chase Clement is settling in and making more completions. After throwing three INTs against Nicholls, he gave up only one pick against Texas Tech. We can expect Rice to be (or at least try to be) a thorn in the side of the Longhorn pass defense.
Leading the receiving corps is Junior WR Jarrett Dillard, followed by Tommy Henderson. Dillard has picked up 244 yards this year and is averaging 14 yards per catch. Add on Dixon and Knox, and the Owls have plenty of receivers to hit.
Texas will face a team with improved offensive play. The Owls offense is balanced, splitting the ground and the air. Texas has given up 974 yards to opponents this year. Needless to say, our defense needs work. Despite the improvement of the Owls and my disapproval of the Longhorn D, I simply don’t think it will be enough to give Rice a ‘W’.
The Owls have 4 sacks this year, two against Baylor. On the slightly negative side, Rice has given up 1394 yards to opponents this year. That seems really awful, but 991 of those yards are in the air. With two “pass-first, pass-only” teams (Baylor and Tech), this really isn’t so bad. After all, Graham Harrell’s arm is registered with the U.S. Military as a WMD.
There are some names on the line worth mentioning, and if we continue our current path these guys are going to hit us where it hurts.
Brian Raines, Jr LB, has 14 solo, and 12 assisted tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss. Andres Sendejo, Sophomore DB, has 14 solo tackles himself including 1 tackle for loss. Chris Jones and Brandon King, also DBs, have 11 solo tackles.
The rant I said I wouldn’t make is now finally rearing its ugly head. Rice does not have the assets to beat us, if we play at least as “well” as we have the past three weeks. That said, Longhorn fans want blood. Mostly because our foes want us on the chopping block and this game has the potential to put us there. Eeking out pathetic wins against unranked teams is not making us look good to the rest of football-dom.
We have three choices here:
1) beat Rice by the standard 40 points. Everyone says, so what? It’s Rice. You’ve always beaten them. You’re bigger, stronger, faster, better recruited, have state of the art facilities and the best coaches (arguable, of course) in Texas. We have yet another win against a cupcake that makes our schedule wither in comparison to the likes of the SEC.
2) barely eek out another pathetic win against an unranked team, i.e. Texas wins by a touchdown or two, and kicks a field goal (that’s my-boy Ryan Bailey!) for good measure. Everyone does that stupid clap song “O-VER-RAT-ED – clap clap clap” when we play them. Some of the Texas fans join in. This sentence enters the vocabulary of our opponents: “Well, you know Texas only beat Rice by a touchdown or two, which completely confirms the jeers we were saying after that Arkansas State game.”
3) upset. Normally I’d say never going to happen, but again, Michigan changed everything.
Are any of these good for us? No. No they aren’t. Alright. If you know me personally, I’ve said this 100 times. Now it is officially on the blog. And I promise to never bring it up ever, ever again.