Bowl Game Prep: Rice Offense

With Air Force set to take on Rice in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 29th it is time to start looking at the threat that the Owls present. There will be a look at the keys to the game nearer to game time, but before then we are going to find the strengths, and weaknesses, of their offense, defense, and special teams, starting with the offense.

With Air Force set to take on Rice in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 29th it is time to start looking at the threat that the Owls present. There will be a look at the keys to the game nearer to game time, but before then we are going to find the strengths, and weaknesses, of their offense, defense, and special teams, starting with the offense.

Pass Offense - C

This is not the same Rice offense which saw Chase Clement throw for 44 touchdowns in 2008. This version of the Owls ranks 73rd in the country in passing yards per game averaging just under 220 yards per contest. Quarterback Taylor McHargue has thrown for only 11 touchdowns with five interceptions and as a pure passer he is nothing that the Air Force defense should be afraid of. He is, however, a dual threat option and his ability to use his legs to extend plays behind the line of scrimmage is something to watch out for.

When Rice does pass the ball the Air Force defense will have to be most aware of senior wide receiver Sam McGuffie. McGuffie has almost half (5) of the Owls touchdown receptions this season and he is at his best on short to intermediate routes where he can keep drives alive.

Rush Offense - B

The main focus of the Rice offense is its dangerous rushing attack. The Owls rank 30th in the country in rushing at just a shade over 200 yards per game. As mentioned above, McHargue is a threat to run the ball on any given down and he leads the team in carries (154) and touchdowns (11). The running attack starts with his ability to make people miss and he has a couple of backs in Charles Ross and Turner Peterson who each have over 500 yards on the season to flank him and provide different options.

Points Scored - B

Rice scores at a better average clip of just under 32 points per game, good for 40th in the nation. One thing that must be taken into account when looking at those numbers though is that the Owls are in the defense light Conference-USA. Even the non-conference games were against a slow starting UCLA squad on opening day and an awful Kansas team which was the only Big XII team not to make a bowl game. As a result it is fair to say that the scoring numbers may be inflated.

Final Thoughts

Facing a strong rushing attack will be nothing new to an Air Force team which has come up against a number of them this season. Where this attack differs from the likes of Army and Navy is that McHargue is more capable in the pass game and that Rice will use more spread sets to run and pass out of. Shutting down McHargue is going to be everything as he is the key in all that Rice try and do.


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