The red zone was kind to Rice Football in 2018. The Owls will look to build on that success by creating addition scoring opportunities in the fall.
Rice scored on 85.7 percent of their red zone opportunities last season, the 46th best rate in the country and the third best rate in Conference USA. That’s a night and day difference from their 74.1 percent scoring rate inside the 20-yard line in 2017.
While the rate of red zone scoring increased year over year, the impact of that efficiency was muted by a lack of opportunity. Rice averaged 2.0 red zone scores per game, a total which ranked 121st in the nation and 13th in Conference USA.
Those two numbers combined suggest the margin for error in the red zone is extremely small. If Rice is only going to get into that prime field position two to three times per game, leaving without points or settling for field goals, is going to play into the hands of the Owls’ opponents.
The Rice Football offense desires to predicate itself on controlling the clock and playing quality defense. While other teams the Owls face are going to try to move fast and run chunks of plays, Rice is going to err on the methodical side. For that reason, the total number of red zone opportunities will be at a premium for Rice compared to some of their more pass-happy foes.
The net difference in red zone scoring opportunities in itself isn’t an all-powerful statistic. The 10-3 Kentucky Wildcats scored in the red zone 2.1 times per game last season while the 4-8 Old Dominion Monarchs scored in the red zone 3.5 times per game. Red zone scoring isn’t the objective, making those trips count is.
Rice excelled in the latter last year. In 2019 they’ll look to build on that success and turn their red zone field goals into touchdowns.
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