Rice Notebook: Owls Ready To Play Longhorns In Austin

“Texas is a national brand so being from Minnesota, still I understood the magnitude of the program and what it’s going to be like playing there,” Montero said. “I want to prove myself against a good team with a lot of good players. It’s an important game not only for me but some of the guys on the team who aspire to play at the next level and get recognition.”

Added Owls coach

Mike Bloomgren: “I think that everybody who grew up in Texas probably dreamed of playing in that stadium on one side or the other, whether it was for the Longhorns or against the Longhorns.”

Rice and Texas have a common opponent this season in Arkansas. The Owls were competitive in leading 10-7 at the half before losing at Arkansas 38-17. Texas lost 40-21 to the Razorbacks.

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“You always have issues when you compare the teams in games,” Bloomgren said. “It’s a great resource but it also can be dangerous. But it should be encouraging to our guys from watching what we did against Arkansas.”

Defense has had its moments

The final scores in Rice’s first two games don’t totally reflect how well its defense has played at times in losses at Arkansas and against Houston (44-7) last Saturday.

“We feel like we play good quarters but not the whole game and that’s not good enough,” said Montero, who has compiled double-digit tackles in each game. “We haven’t been good enough in the red zone, giving up too many points. We’ll get it corrected. I believe in our scheme, our players. Not the way we wanted to start our season defensively.”

Having seen the pounding Arkansas gave to Texas last week shines a light on Rice’s defense. The Owls led the Razorbacks 17-7 in the third quarter before the Razorbacks gassed the Owls on several quarterback runs and converted a few long passes. The Longhorns, with a roster of highly recruited players, were manhandled by the Razorbacks, who gouged the Longhorns for 333 rushing yards.

“It does make you feel better about yourself,” Montero said. “But with a lot of four and five stars in the secondary and on the defense, shows we can play with anybody. Stars don’t necessarily matter, it’s about effort and team and trust in the system.”

Shea Baker found his own home

Coming out of Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, Rice right guard

Shea Baker was not offered a football scholarship by Texas. That was despite Baker not allowing a sack his senior year and being named by the Austin American-Statesman to the Austin area’s all-decade team in 2019.

“I wasn’t disappointed, because I knew Rice would recognize my talent and work ethic. UT didn’t,” Baker said. “Four years later I’m proud of what I’ve become.”

A preseason first-team All-Conference USA pick, the 6-1, 311-pound redshirt junior has led the offense in snaps two times over the past three seasons. Baker started 24 of 25 games over his first two seasons.

Sticking with Luke McCaffrey

At the moment Rice is staying with quarterback

Luke McCaffrey, who played the entire game at Houston. McCaffrey, who has been in the Owls’ system less than three months, was 9-of-19 passing for 86 yards with three interceptions, throwing one touchdown against the Cougars.

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“We’re going forward with Luke McCaffery right now and trying to get him to understand the system and make the best decisions within it and to protect the football,” Bloomgren said. “We think it gives our team the best opportunity to be successful, not only today but going forward.”

Wiley Green had earned the opportunity to start the Owls’ opening game based on his performance in spring ball and into fall camp. But Bloomgren likes what McCaffrey has to offer, a strong arm and his scrambling ability keeps plays alive. The Rice coach said the Nebraska transfer needs to protect the ball and improve his decision making.

Both McCaffrey and Green are continuing to getting reps with the starting unit.

More movement needed up front

Bloomgren acknowledged that Rice’s usually reliable offensive line didn’t play up to par against Houston. The unit had issues in communication concerning blocking schemes. For a portion of the game Houston had three players constantly pressuring the quarterback.

“It was frustrating to watch,” Bloomgren said. “The expectation for those guys is to be so consistent and see the game through one set of eyes. There were times on Saturday in the first half we did not get that done.”

Against Arkansas the tackles didn’t play up to standards. The tackles played better against Houston, but Bloomgren said the center and left guard didn’t play as well.

“We need those five guys to be on the same page,” Bloomgren said. “We need more violent movement up front and create more holes for the backs.”

Source : https://www.houstonchronicle.com/texas-sports-nation/college/article/Rice-notebook-Owls-ready-to-play-Longhorns-in-16459564.php

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