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A New Name In The Trenches?: Rice Defensive Players to Watch Vs. Texas

The Rice Owls won't have much offensively, but they are returning nine starters for 2021

Week 3 was expected to be the final dress rehearsal for Texas before making the jump into Big 12 play. It still is, but now there's stipulations. 

Texas (1-1) will be making the change at quarterback from Hudson Card to Casey Thompson. Both quarterbacks are expected to play against Rice (0-2), but whoever looks the more complete likely earns first-teams reps for the remainder of the season.  

Rice, who finished the 2020 campaign at 2-3 under Mike Blomgren, will be hopeful the new addition of Luke McCaffrey can finally elevate the offense after struggling thus far. 

Defensively, maybe the Owls can match up well enough with Texas? They looked the part for nearly three quarters against Arkansas in Week 1. 

The Owls will return eight starters from 2020, with two part-time starters replacing the losses. Naturally, an offense under Steve Sarkisian is destined to put up points, but will Rice — who allowed an average of 341.6 yards per game — be able to contain them? 

READ MORE: New Texas Starting QB Casey Thompson: "I Love Being The Villain"

Make sure to stick with Longhorns Country through our season preview series, where we will analyze every opponent on Texas' schedule in 2021.

Here are several Rice players fans should keep an eye on for September 28, though. 

NFL

LB Antonio Montero

With Blaze Alldredge heading to the SEC, the Owls need a new leader up the middle. Montero has been that guy, recording a team-high 21 tackles and a sack. Montero a small-framed linebacker, but plays bigger than his 6-foot-0 frame, making him a name to watch for in the open field against running backs.  

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DT Elijah Garcia

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Sacks were not the strength of Rice in 2020, with no one recording more than 1.5 on the season. De'Bryalon Carroll was expected to start up the middle, but he's now out for the remainder of the season with an injury.  

Garcia, a former offensive tackle, has filled in his spot as a three-tech up the middle. He so far has made 10 total tackles, including three tackles for losses. Maybe playing tackle will help him make big hits on the opposing side this week at DKR? 

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DB Miles McCord

Rice's secondary was a weak point, but Mccord might be the best of the bunch. Flexible enough to move inside and on the perimeter, he's remained the starter on the left side since taking over in 2020. So far, he's recorded five tackles and two pass breakups in two games this season.

READ MORE: The Stars Aligned for Marcus Carr's Arrival to Texas

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DB Naeem Smith

Smith plays everywhere on the defensive backfield. More of a strong safety by trade, the senior recorded 12 total tackles and a pair of pass breakups against Arkansas.   Last season, he also recorded a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown against Marshall in a 20-0 upset.   

CONTINUE READING: Who's The Owl's Starter?: Rice Offensive Players to Watch Vs Texas


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