Coming off of a brutal loss to their future SEC rival Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Steve Sarkisian and the Texas Longhorns will now turn their attention to Week 3, hoping to get back on track.
The opponent? The Rice Owls heralding from Houston.
Rice's season was limited in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In five games, there wasn't enough offense to show they could be competitive in the Conference USA for the upcoming season.
Mike Collins no longer is under center, putting pressure on the next QB to come in and compete. Of course, the team didn't see a player drafted last April, meaning a majority of the marquee names are set to return.
Each season, major schools will pay for lesser opponents to travel in order to serve as a tune-up game for contenders. The Longhorns are expecting big things next fall after several late losses that kept them out of the conversation for a Big 12 title.
With Texas Tech the following week, expect the matchup against the Owls to serve as the final dress rehearsal for Casey Thompson and Hudson Card before Sarkisian settles on a season-long starter.
Now with a new quarterback in the building, Rice will be hoping to pull off the upset of the next decade when they head to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 18.
2021 Record: 0-2
Head coach: Mike Bloomgren
Bloomgren is 7-23 since becoming the head coach in 2018
Offensive set: I-Formation
Defensive set: 3-4
Returning starters on offense: 7
Collins is gone, but news broke Monday that former Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey would be joining the staff for 2021. The son of NFL wide receiver Ed, McCaffrey never found his footing with the Cornhuskers and only lasted a week at Louisville.
A former top-rated recruit, McCaffery likely will earn the starting role with Collins no longer in Houston. The good news? Rice will be returning its leading rusher Khalan Griffin and leading receiver Austin Trammel.
Projected Rice starting offense:
QB: Luke McCaffrey
RB: Khalan Griffin*
FB: Jerry Johnson III
WR (X): Austin Trammell*
WR (Z): Andrew Mason*
TE (Y): Jack Bradley
LT: Clay Servin
LG: Izeya Floyd
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OC: Isaac Klarkowski*
RG: Shea Baker*
RT: Jovaun Woolford*
Returning starters on defense: 10
Defense will be Rice's backbone as the team returns 10 starters from 2020. Leading the way is Blaze Alldredge, the two-time winner of the George Martin Award who recorded a team-high in tackles. Alldredge became the first defensive player to earn the honor in consecutive seasons.
Projected Rice starting defense:
DE: Trey Schuman *
DT: Elijah Garcia*
NT: De'Braylon Carroll *
RUSH: Kenneth Orji*
MIKE: Myron Morrison
WILL: Blaze Alldredge*
VIPER: Treshawn Jefferson*
CB: Myles McCord *
SS: Kirk Lockhart *
FS: Prudy Calderon *
CB: Andrew Bird*
Newcomers to know:
WR Cedric Patterson
The Owls won't be adding a load of transfers, but adding having an extra receiver couldn't hurt. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Patterson comes in from New Mexico after averaging close to 19 yards per catch in 2020. He also hauled in 16 grabs with three scores. If nothing else, Patterson's speed will make him a vertical threat on the outside.
QB Luke McCaffrey
As mentioned, McCaffrey now is the leading candidate to take over under center with his experience elsewhere. Last season with Nebraska, he was 48-of-76 passing for 466 yards, one touchdown, and six interceptions. McCaffery also has some speed like his running back brother, Christian, posting 364 yards, three touchdowns on 35 carries.
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