The offense scored a lot of points again – and we lost, again. The Rice defense couldn't stop Memphis all day and even though the Owls were able to move the ball for most of the day, when they needed a drive for a score in the 4th that would have given them the lead, once again they sputtered. A turnover on a batted Chase Clement pass led to what would ultimately be the game winning play for the Tigers when WR Maurice Jones got behind freshman Safety Randy Kitchens for a 45 yard touchdown catch. The Rice Owl defense to put it mildly, is struggling – today was another bad day at the office where they gave up 571 yards of offense. They let Memphis convert 50% of their 3rd down conversions – and worse the Tigers were a perfect 3 for 3 on 4th downs. Unfortunately, the Owls defense seems to be getting younger each week, and with that trend comes the inevitable youthful mistakes. Today Andrew Sendejo, who may be the Owls' best defensive player, left the game with what looked like a shoulder injury or possible concussion after making a big hit that gave Rice one of its few stops on third down. The hits just keep on coming.
Here a few Notes from Today's Game:
The Offensive Line did not allow a sack today. Lute Barber was back at Right Tackle today with Preston Thompson starting at Left Tackle. Freshman Scott Mitchell also played extensively at Left Tackle and looked really good.
Tyler Smith got a few carries out of the backfield and is very quick. He didn't have great stats but did look good on kickoff returns with a long return of 32 yards.
Both of Chase Clement's interceptions came on deflections – the first went off the hands of Marcus Knox and the second was deflected at the line of scrimmage by a Memphis defensive lineman.
Chase Clement took a while to get in a groove today – he misfired high on several passes early in the game.
Jarett Dillard may not get the attention he got last year but he made a couple of dazzling plays today – one was a catch that was bound for interception when JD came out of nowhere between two defenders to take the ball away. The other was on a 42 yard TD where he went up again between two defenders coming down with the catch and then somehow staying on his feet to fall backward for 3 yards into the end zone.
Rice's freshmen defensive ends were busy today - Cheta Ozougwu was credited with 7 tackles today; Scott Solomon had 6 (all solo) and 2 tackles for a loss. Kramer Lucio also saw a lot of action at Left End today.
Gary Anderson was credited with 4 pass break ups today.
James Casey had 5 catches for 60 yards – including a nifty catch between two defenders in the 4th quarter that made the score 38-35. He also had a 19 yard run on a handoff from Chase Clement.
Several recruits were in attendance at today's game including Julian Wagner, a 5-9 175 WR/DB from Fort Worth Eastern Hills High School and Allen Davis from South Grand Prairie. Davis is a 6-1 215 LB who's been clocked at 4.53, and has a 1990 SAT score. He's already been offered by Air Force. Also at the game was Rice commit Clay Hebert, a 6-3 290 offensive lineman from Klein High School.
Corbin Smiter is back from injury and had a nice run after one of his 3 catches.
Although not starting at cornerback, Ja'Corey Shepherd did have a nice return today. Had he not stepped out of bounds he may have gone all the way – instead he was credited with 28 yards.
The Owls' rushing effort was hardly impressive today – 105 net yards on 20 attempts. Meanwhile Memphis tailback Joseph Doss alone had 179 yards on 24 carries.
Gosh if we could just play mediocre defense I think this team would be 4-3 right now. Instead, they end up staying on the field for long periods of time and wear themselves down – which just makes things worse. I just don't see how things are going to get much better any time soon. Young players are going to have to play, injuries are going to happen. The only way we'll get better is if they start to learn from their mistakes and play better now – not next year. Today we couldn't stop the run or the pass – we've got to do one or the other or we can look forward to a similar result again next week.
There's an expression being used by coaches these days – "chopping wood" – it means to keep working, make progress one swing of the axe at a time. All the Owls can do at this point is to grab some axes…