Rice football trusted a selected few to catch the football in 2018, something which must change if the Owls want to succeed in producing a balanced offense.
After discussing the balanced scheme Rice football would like to employ it seemed worth digging down another layer. A 50/50 run/pass split is around the neighborhood the offense will be aiming towards, but how does that ideal manifest itself on the field with the players Rice has on its roster?
Part of the reason Rice seemed to be more run-dominant than they were last year was the sheer volume of rushers. 16 different players registered at least one carry last season, second-most in Conference USA. A layer deeper still, 40 percent of all ballcarriers at Rice racked up at least 40 carries, the highest rate among all CUSA teams.
In a nutshell, not only did Rice rely on the run, they shared the load among several different backs. Contrasting that against the Rice passing game is where things get interesting. 10 players caught at least one pass for Rice last season, the fewest total in the conference and significantly fewer than the league average of 15.5 players.
Of those pass catchers, five caught 10 or more passes. The conference as a whole averaged 6.5 players with as many receptions per team. If your name wasn’t Austin Walter, Aaron Cephus or Austin Trammell, you probably weren’t getting the football.
When Rice ran the ball they had options. When they threw the ball, there were only a few guys who emerged as consistent receiving threats. The Owls’ ratio of 10+ carry players to 10+ reception players was the second-highest in the conference, trailing only FAU. The run/pass balance evened out in the long run, but the path to get there was wobbly.
In order to maintain the balance they’re aiming for, another legitimate pass-catching weapon (or two) need to emerge in 2019. JUCO transfer Bradley Rozner and a healthy Jonathan Sanchez could be the missing pieces the Owls need.
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