Rice 2022 Season in Review: Owls take step forward by reaching bowl game

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2022 record: 5-8 (+1 win from 2021)  

Texas Power Poll ranking: 9 of 12  


The Owls won five games or more for the first time since 2015 and reached a bowl game for the first time since 2014, albeit because of a high APR score as a five-win team. The passing defense was the bedrock of the team, ranking 38th nationally by allowing only 208.6 yards per game through the air. Gabe Taylor was third on the team with 60 tackles and was tied for the team lead in interceptions with two alongside Treshawn Gabriel. Jordan Dunbar and George Nyakwol were also impact players in the Rice secondary. 

The passing offense was the strength on that side of the ball thanks to wide receivers Bradley Rozner, Luke McCaffrey, and Isaiah Esdale. Rozner earned All-CUSA honorable mention honors with team highs in receiving yards (876) and touchdowns (10). He averaged nearly 20 yards a catch. McCaffrey led the team with 58 receptions in his first year as a wide receiver. Esdale added 42 grabs for 544 yards and a pair of scores. 

The Owls earned two statement wins over the first five weeks of the season. It started in Week 2 with a home victory over Louisiana, snapping one of the longest win streaks in America during the 33-21 win. Two weeks later, Rice beat UAB for the second year in a row. The program also notched thrilling in-conference wins over La Tech in overtime and UTEP on national television on a Thursday night. 


Rice was 5-4 after the Nov. 3 win at home over UTEP. The Owls lost four straight to end the season, falling to Western Kentucky, UTSA, and North Texas to close out the regular season before dropping the bowl game to Southern Miss. The offense averaged just 14.5 points in those four contests. The average margin of defeat during that span was 21.75. The Owls finished the season 3-5 in conference play and 1-5 on the road. 

The rushing offense never provided balance for the passing attack, which struggled down the stretch due to injury and inconsistency at quarterback – something that’s plagued the Owls during Mike Bloomgren’s tenure. Rice was 84th in the nation in scoring offense with 25.2 points per game. The rushing attack averaged 141.31 yards per game, which was 81st nationally. Their red zone touchdown percentage of 56.52 was 91st in the FBS. 


The defense was atrocious for most of the season. Rice allowed 34.2 points per game, which ranked 121st of 131 teams in the FBS ranks. The rush defense was 104th nationally. Opponents converted over 41 percent of their third downs and scored touchdowns on 69.23 percent of their trips into the Rice red zone. The turnover margin was -14, third worst in all of Division I college football. Rice quarterbacks combined to throw 20 interceptions. 


Quarterback: C  
Running back: C-
Wide receiver/tight end: B+
Offensive line: C+ 
Defensive line: 
Linebacker: C- 
Cornerback: B-
Safety: B


Can JT Daniels fix the quarterback position? 

Rice has started more quarterbacks than any other program in the country since the start of 2017 as that number approaches 15 in six seasons. The Owls have used as least three quarterbacks in each of the past five seasons due to injury. That’s prevented from Bloomgren and Co. from reaching new heights and breaking into conference contention. Daniels, a former five-star recruit, is landing in Houston to help save the day. He was most recently at West Virginia and should provide a shot in the arm for the passing game. 


The start of the season is brutal for the Owls with consecutive contests against Big 12 foes Texas and Houston. The rest of the non-conference schedule are home games against Texas Southern and UConn. A step up in conference play is also on the horizon with the Owls moving to the AAC along with UTSA and North Texas. The four home games are against SMU, Tulane, FAU, and East Carolina. The Owls will travel to Charlotte, Tulsa, USF, and UTSA. Improved play at quarterback and in the front seven on defense are imperative for the Owls to return to a bowl game and post a .500 or better record for the first time since 2014. 

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