The run-heavy mantra of Intellectual Brutality is more accommodating to the passing game than some might expect. Rice football was remarkably balanced on offense in 2018.
Coach Mike Bloomgren likes to use phrases likes to talk about his team imposing their will and playing with physicality. He’s an offensive line guy at heart who has a passion for winning in the trenches and running the football. That’s no secret, nor is it a secret he’d like to develop a stable of strong ball carriers at South Main.
But Rice might not be as one-dimensional as some would make them out to be.
Rice ran the ball on 54.5 percent of their plays last season, the fourth most run-heavy offense in Conference USA. The Owls were only the 55th run-dominant team in the nation, though, putting them slightly above the national average (around 53.5 percent). In fact, Rice was trended closely to being one of the most balanced offensive units in the country last season, something which should continue into 2019.
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The conference Rice competes in plays a huge role in their perception as an overwhelmingly run-first squad. The Owls are lightyears away from the triple-option teams, including their first 2019 opponent, Army, who runs the ball on 88.8 percent of their plays.
They’re also a ways away from many of their conference peers. North Texas (112), Louisiana Tech (113), UTSA (120) and Old Dominion (122) all ranked near the bottom quarter nationally in run percentage.
In the era of the spread offense, Rice looks different. They’re going to use a full back and line up with a sixth offensive lineman from time to time. But they’ll throw the ball too, a facet of their offense poised to take a step forward in 2020 with a more experienced quarterback and several talented receivers. The Owls are going to run first, but don’t be shocked when they pass second.