The first game back from consecutive postponements didn’t go well for Rice football, who made too many mistakes to earn a conference win on the road.
Rice football entered their game against North Texas with a specific plan on defense. They weren’t going to let Jaelon Darden beat them through the air and they weren’t going to let Jason Bean beat them on the ground. Both of those players scored touchdowns, but each was held relatively in check save for one big play apiece.
Had Rice football head coach Mike Bloomgren been offered that—a sub .500 completion percentage day from Bean and one touchdown reception for the nation’s leading receiver—he would have taken it in a heartbeat.
To some extent, Rice football got what they hoped for on that side of the ball. 27 points surrendered to the conference’s top scoring offense makes for a relatively successful day, no matter how the points were accumulated.
The offensive side of the ball was a completely different story.
When asked to sum it up, Bloomgren seemed a bit perplexed. “It felt like game one all over again,” he said. “For 10 minutes, we played our kind of football and did the things that we need to do. And then I have no idea what switched.”
That confusion extended beyond Bloomgren’s perception. The Rice offense, which had scored 30+ points in four of their last five games dating back to last season, couldn’t maintain that trajectory.
Rice marched down the field on its’ first two possessions, scoring 10 points. They didn’t add any more until the final 10 seconds of regulation when it was far too late.
North Texas had seven sacks, the most-ever under coach Seth Littrell. Rice fumbled four times, turning the ball over twice. The special teams committed their third turnover on a punt in three games. Any adjustments that were made failed to overcome the missteps.
Rice football had three weeks to iron out their own mistakes on offense and came up short.
Defensive captain Blaze Alldredge couldn’t have been more clear. His words speak to the faults of the entire team, even if he was referring specifically to his side of the ball. “At the end of the day, it’s not about what they did,” he said, “It’s about what we didn’t do.”
Rice football didn’t play well enough to win against North Texas. They did against Southern Miss and they didn’t against Middle Tennessee. Sometimes it is that easy. Rice has the talent to beat any team in Conference USA, but do they have the consistency and the discipline? That’s something Bloomgren and Co. have to fix. This team has too much potential to fumble away.