Rice Football returns to Houston for their 2019 home opener against Wake Forest. How to watch, stats to know, x-factor picks for both teams and more.
A 1-0 start for Wake Forest and an 0-1 start for Rice were both results of games that came down to the final minutes. Neither team faced a deficit larger than seven points in their first game the difference was what each squad was able to accomplish when the clock ticked under two minutes.
Rice quarterback Wiley Green saw his fourth down pass fall to the ground incomplete. Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman found Kendall Hinton in the endzone on fourth down for the go-ahead score.
The Owls feel like their Week 1 loss to Army was a winnable game which got away from them. Here’s how they stack up with their Week 2 opponent, Wake Forest.
Episode 6 of The Roost Podcast is live. Find us on the podcast page or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. (And consider leaving us a 5-star review while you’re at it.) This week Carter and I broke down the good and the bad from the Army game then moved on to Week 2, discussing how Rice matches up with Wake Forest.
Sizing up the contenders
A year ago these teams didn’t look to belong on the same field. Wake Forest rolled at home, winning 56-24 behind the dangerous combination of quarterback Sam Hartman and wide receiver Greg Dortch. That duo combined for four touchdowns in the rout, but neither will be in the starting lineup against Rice on Friday. Dortch has moved on. Hartman was beat out for the starting job this fall.
The 2019 versions of these teams look slightly different. The Rice defense looked aggressive in their opener against Army while their offense stalled. On the other sideline, Wake Forest had a hard time getting off the field against Utah State, but overcame those deficiencies with a surplus of offensive firepower.
This matchup will pair strength against strength (Rice defense vs Wake Forest offense) and weakness against weakness (Rice offense vs Wake Forest defense).
All Time | Series tied 1-1
Last Five | Series tied 1-1
Last Meeting | Wake Forest won at Wake Forest 56-24 in 2018
Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Green – 7/14 (50 percent), 62 yards passing, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing | Ellerbe – 9 carries, 103 yards (11.4 yards per carry), 1 TD
Receiving | Trammell – 4 receptions, 40 yards (10 yards per reception)
Tackles | Montero – 11
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | N/A
Wake Forest Stat Notables
Passing | Newman – 34/47 (72.3 percent), 401 yards passing, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing | Carney – 25 carries, 105 yards (4.2 yards per carry)
Receiving | Surrat – 7 receptions, 158 yards (22.6 yards per reception), 1 TD
Tackles | Strnad – 12
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Henderson, Strnad, Rucker – Tied with 1
Wake Forest X-Factor | The ground game
Quarterback Jamie Newman is not a traditional pocket passer. He has a good arm, but he’ll try to attack the Owls on the ground too, along with lead running back Cade Carney. That duo combined for 46 carries, 141 rushing yards and a touchdown in their Week 1 win over Utah State.
Stopping the run was a strength of the Rice defense a year ago and the notable bright spot of their Week 1 game against Army. That will make setting the tone in the trenches a necessity for the Owls in Week 2. If Rice can hold their own up front, they’ll limit force Wake Forest to be more one-dimensional, allowing the safeties to spend more time helping in pass coverage than plugging holes at the line of scrimmage.
Rice X-Factor | Corner play
This will be the first true test for a Rice secondary of the season. Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins attempted just eight passes, but the lone touchdown came on a critical fourth quarter drive with no defender in the vicinity of the wideout who snagged what would be the game-winning touchdown.
Rice has had strong safety play, highlighted by the swarming defense of Treshawn Chamberlain and the intensity of George Nyakwol. The corners are unproven. Corners Andrew Bird, D’Angelo Ellis, Tyrae Thornton, Josh Landrum and Tre’shon Devones saw action against Army and should all be in the mix against Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons are going to throw the ball around the yard, something they succeeded in against the Owls last year. If the corner play doesn’t show improvement, the Rice offense is going to be tasked with digging out of a sizable hole.
A detailed injury update is available in our Sunday practice update. Further updates will be provided here as the week progresses. Here’s a quick synopsis.
Running back Juma Otoviano underwent a procedure and will be out for the foreseeable future. Given the depth in the backfield and the uncertainty of his recovery timetable, he could be a candidate to redshirt this season, possibly playing in a few games down the stretch.
Both running back Charlie Booker and wide receiver Zane Knipe were last minute scratches against Army, but both could have gone if the situation warranted it. Barring a set back during the week, it’s possible both play against Wake Forest.
Kicker Zack Hoban is out of his boot but not yet kicking in practice. His status for Friday’s game is unknown.
The Roost’s 2019 Rice Football Season Preview has four pages dedicated to every opponent the Owls face. There are depth chart, important new arrivals and depth chart breakdowns for each foe. Better yet, it’s not just speculation, each profile was created with insight from local experts who cover those teams day in and day out. Pick up your copy today and get four pages and more than 1,000 words on Wake Forest.
Pick ‘Em Contest
If you haven’t yet, make sure you submit your entry for The Roost’s weekly pick’em challenge. Choose an answer to each of the six questions below and submit them on the forum thread to enter.
- How many players attempt a pass for Rice?
(Over 1.5 / Under 1.5)
- Which team will have more rushing yards?
(Rice / Wake Forest)
- Which happens first – Rice touchdown or Rice forces a turnover?
(Touchdown / Turnover)
- How many sacks will the Rice defense get?
(Over 2.5 / Under 2.5)
- Who is leading at the end of Q1?
(Wake Forest / Rice or Tied)
- Who wins?
(Rice / Wake Forest)
One Final Thing
There was plenty of good and bad to take away from the Owls’ Week 1 loss against Army, but it was just one game. The sample size is too small to draw too many meaningful conclusions. That’s what makes this next game all the more important. Rice can either solidify concerns leftover from their season-opening defeat or they can alleviate the worry with a strong showing in Week 2.
Wake Forest is a good football team, another quality opponent in a challenging non-conference slate. Rice showed their competitive spark against Army, now it’s time to see if they can get all phases working together at the same time. At this point in the season, it’s hard to be sure exactly what this team is going to be but the first impression was overwhelmingly positive.
- Rice Football 2020 Practice Notes: Post MTSU presser, changes and injuries
- Rice Football 2020: Owls in the NFL Week 7 Update
- Rice Football 2020 Game Preview: Southern Miss
- Rice Football: Bad bounces, poor results and rough goings