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.
Rice Owls: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT
Rice Owls: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
Rice Owls: Key To The 2022 Offense
Get more out of the ground game.
The style of play has been good enough to control the clock, and there was just enough with the passing game to be okay – there should be more happening through the air. But the offense is supposed to control things on the ground, and it’s struggling.
The Owls averaged fewer than four yards per carry and stalled a little too often. They picked it up late in the season and the team was more competitive, but overall if they can get to over 150 yards per game – that only happened four times last season – the balance of the attack changes.
Rice Owls: Key To The 2022 Defense
Takeaways, takeaways, takeaways.
Obviously every team is better when it generates takeaways, but this team really needs them. The Rice defense isn’t going to be a brick wall, and the offense needs as many breaks and short fields as possible.
The D was able to come up with multiple takeaways five times in the last eight games, the team won three of them and was competitive in a good fight against Charlotte. The team is 4-1 over the last two seasons when it comes up with three or more.
Rice Owls: Key Player To The 2022 Season
DT Izeya Floyd, Soph.
Elijah Garcia did a little bit of everything for the Rice defense last year. He led the team with 67 tackles, was one of the top pass rushers with five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss, and he was also the 300-pound anchor everything worked around.
The 326-pound Garcia isn’t going to be Floyd, but at the very least he has to be a wall on the nose and let everyone else get behind the line.
Rice Owls: Key Transfer
WR Sam Crawford, Sr.
Receiver might be the team’s biggest strength – even with a few key losses – and it’s better with the addition of the veteran playmaker from Tulsa.
Crawford averaged over 14 yards per catch in his three seasons with 114 grabs and ten touchdowns. There are other options, but he has the potential to be the star of the attack.
Rice Key Game To The 2022 Season
Louisiana, Sept. 17
Of course the Ragin’ Cajun program has been fantastic over the last few seasons, but it’s going through a bit of an overhaul this year. After losing to USC in the opener and likely beating McNeese State, Rice can get to 2-1 just before a rough stretch – and can make an early statement in the hunt to go bowling – by beating the defending Sun Belt champs.
Lose, and with three road games in the next four dates – and UAB at home – being 1-6 wouldn’t be out of the question.
Rice Owls: 2021 Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 112 – Rice 41
– Time of Possession: Rice 33:14 – Opponents 26:44
– Field Goals: Opponents 11-of-15 – Rice 5-of-11
Rice Owls Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT
Rice Owls Season Prediction, What Will Happen
The Owls were at least interesting last year down the stretch.
They had chances to get by North Texas and Charlotte, and the road date at UTEP had the potential to flip the other way, but there’s another side to all that.
The 4-8 season could’ve been much, must worse. The three wins over FBS teams were all by six points or fewer.
This year’s team is more experienced across the board, it’s got plenty of good parts, and there’s a shot there’s just enough of a tweak to get the ground game going a little more to be more dangerous as the season goes on.
Set The Rice Owls Regular Season Win Total At … 4.5
The Owls got rocked last year against the good teams, but they were able to hang around the 50/50 games, if not win them.
This time around, forget about the road games at USC and Houston, but just about everything else is in play including the home dates against Charlotte and UTEP.
A win over Louisiana at home would be massive, and there can’t be any other slip-ups at home, either, with UAB and UTSA thrown into the must-win category.
There will be a win out of the blue against someone okay – like at Florida Atlantic or Louisiana Tech – and there will be a misfire somewhere – like against Charlotte.
Anything past the four wins of last season would be a success.