Rice got things started with a 20 yard pass, but the offense sputtered from there. The Owls finished with just 70 yards in the first half overall, and turnovers ruined multiple drives. Houston got the ball inside Rice territory, and twice inside the red zone, thanks to three first half Rice turnovers. The Owls also didn’t cross midfield until 11:06 in the third quarter.
Kyle Allen had another great first half passing, as he started 13-for-13 and finished the half 26-for-28 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Houston’s passing attack consisted primarily of screen and short downfield passes, and there was no need to do anything besides that in the passing game. Rice’s defense didn’t have the speed to keep up with the Cougars high powered attack. Allen finished the game 31-for-33 for 309 yards and two touchdowns while spreading the ball out to nine different receivers. Linell Bonner led the starters with 10 catches for 132 yards.
It’s been nice that Houston hasn’t had to expand their offense in the game that much, because they can work on the fundamentals of the offense to gain confidence for later games. The offense is going to need that confidence when they face a high-powered Texas Tech offense next week. The backups also recieved some valuable experience as the starters were pulled in the third quarter.
Defensively, while their performance was mostly dominant, the secondary had moments that were concerning. There were a couple plays where defenders were beat even though Rice couldn’t complete the pass. This is a position group that needs to be sharp next week against the Red Raiders, who love to spread the ball around the field through the air.
Rice also did their best to try and limit the damage Ed Oliver could do by double teaming (and holding) the Cougars star defender. But that didn’t prevent him from making plays. Oliver finished with six tackles, and a forced fumble. Linebacker Matthew Adams led the team with 11 stops and saftey Garrett Davis added seven tackles as well.
This game was a much better showing for the Cougars after struggling at times last week against Arizona. Houston looked sharp for the most part against the Owls, and that should give fans a positive outlook for next week.