Kansas heads to Houston on Saturday to take on a Rice Owl team that beat the Jayhawks in Lawrence a year ago. The Owls opened their season with a game against another team from Texas, the Aggies of A&M. Rice is favored by over a touchdown at this point and that number has been trending up all week. As we start to look at the matchups in this one, the Owls offense is our first area of focus.
The Owl Offense To Date
Rice has played in one game this year. That one game was against a fairly highly ranked opponent in Texas A&M. Rice held their own in a lot of respects and offensively they were productive. Rice accumulated 500+ yards of offense against the Aggies and put up 31 points. Honestly if they can replicate that performance Kansas will likely have a tough time keeping up unless the Jayhawk offense kicks into another gear from week one to week two.
To date the Owls look to be a team that will likely run more than they throw. Traditionally the Owls had been a more run focused attack until the addition of Taylor McHargue in recent years. While McHargue isn't a dynamic passer necessarily, he does bring the threat of both a passing attack along with the ability to hurt you with his feet. McHargue really is the piece that makes this team work.
As a whole this is an Owl offense that returns 10 players with starting experience. This is a team that was one of the youngest in college football a year ago with little in the way of senior leadership. Now this group is hoping to turn the corner and build on a strong closing to the 2012 season. Texas A&M was the initial test and one that Rice put up a good fight in a losing effort, but this Kansas game is one they are going to expect to win and a game they will hope to build off of.
Rice Offensive Line
This is probably one area that will be interesting to monitor. Rice struggled at times with pass protection and this group was fairly inexperienced last year. Now they have all the pieces in place and the expectation is that there will be significant improvement. The Kansas defensive line and linebackers have been a bit of a wildcard in recent years and even last week it was an area that probably left more questions than answers. The Rice offensive line could play a pretty big role in opening things up for McHargue depending on how well they have come together during the offseason.
Rice Running Attack
Rice averaged 6 yards per carry against Texas A&M. That's a pretty significant clip and will be a pretty big test for the Kansas defensive scheme. Especially when you factor in a mobile quarterback. Kansas struggled managing a mobile quarterback in the read option system last week. Now they have to slow down a Rice running attack that will come at you in just as many, if not more ways.
Passing: Taylor McHargue 18 of 29 180 yards, 2 TD's, 2 INT's
Rushing: Charles Ross 19 Carries, 107 yards, 2 TD's
Taylor McHargue 9 Carries, 78 Yards
Receiving: Jordan Taylor 7 Receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD