North Texas Mean Green
Time: 11:00 pm CT
Location: Rice Stadium Houston, TX
Line: Rice -14
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Rice Scouting Report
The Owls continue to have a zone read option attack and this year its lead by Driphus Jackson. Jackson is pretty good threat to run or pass. When he does hand it off it will be to one of their two explosive RBs. Those RBs are Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard. These guys are compact, but are tough physical runners. Davis and Dillard are also capable receivers out of the backfield. They have racked up 162 yards receiving. Rice has a few good receivers that will be tough for UNT to stop. Jordan Taylor is the first that comes to mind. Talyor was hurt early in the year, but is back in the line up. He has had 175 recieving yards in the past 2 games averaging over 20 yards per catch. Besides Taylor look to for Mario Hull and Zach Wright to be the other targets Jackson looks for. On the OL they are led by Andrew Reue and Matt Simonette two guys who were selected to Phil Steele’s Mid-season All Conf-CUSA team.
Rice is going to attack the edges of the UNT defense with WR screens and option plays much like last year. They are also going to use play action to get the ball down the field. Dont be surprised if Rice attacks the UNT defense with short passes early in the game only to set up the deep passes later. I could see a few double move plays.
Rice’s defense is led by two potential All American/All Conf/Draft-able players in CB Bryce Callahan and NT Christian Covington. This Owl defense has gotten better as the season has progressed and you get the sense that they are primed for a shutdown type of game. Their only loses came against teams with very good QBs, which is something that the UNT offense does not have. The last 3 games they are only giving up around 300 yards per game, which is pretty tough to do in today’s game. Last year the Owls secondary really shut down UNT’s passing attack holding it to only 104 yards. That was primarily because Rice had two great CBs. This year they only have one, but should still be able hold the UNT passing game in check. UNT only has one real receiving threat between the 20’s and that is Carlos Harris. If Callahan is able to lock down Harris, it could be a really long day for UNT.
The main Rice alignment will be a 4-2-5 defense with the 5th DB being their KAT safety. Not an overly aggressive defense and wont blitz as much relying on their front 4 and playing coverage. I feel like UNT should be able to run on the Owls. They have been average in shutting down the run, but they are likely to load the box to make UNT throw the ball.
Special Teams Overview:
Brandon Hamilton is a prime time returner who is averaging 29.7 yards per return and could have a big day, but he shouldn’t get to many chances. Callahan is decent punt returner, but only has 2 on the year. The Owls have switched to K James Farrimond after James Hairston went 2-6 to start the season. Farrimond is 4-4, but hasn’t attempted anything over 30 yards.
Rice Players to Watch:
QB#6 Driphus Jackson – 88-144, 11 TDs, 3 INTs, 197.5 yards per game passing, 190 yards rushing
WR#15 Jordan Taylor–9 catches for 176 yards,2 TDs
RB#3 Jowan Davis–121 carries for 517 yards,2 TDs,11 catches 101 yards
NT#1 Christian Covington– 14 tackles, 1 Sacks, 2 TFL
CB #29 Bryce Callahan– 20 tackles, 1 Sacks, 2 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR
North Texas Players to Watch:
RB #22 Antoinne Jimmerson – 73 carries,392 yards, 4 TDs, 5 catches 66 yards
WR #9 Carlos Harris– 42 catches for 558 yards, 2 TDs
LB #7 Derek Akunne– 65 tackles, 3.5TFL
Game Plan for Victory
How Rice will win:
If Rice plays a balanced game on offense its going to be tough for UNT to beat them. UNT doesn’t have anybody to match up with Jordan Taylor who had 71 yards receiving against UNT last year. Basically if Rice is able to run the ball effectively they should be able to set up play action and go deep. Almost every team has had success against UNT down the field. Defensively Rice should load the box and play press man, which they are going to do. Give help to Callahan over the top in case he gets beat by Harris and the rest of the DBs should be good. Make McNulty beat you from the pocket and limit is throwing lanes. Alot has to go wrong for Rice to lose this game, but it is the CUSA West and crazy things do happen. I will say that UNT is losing games on the road by an average of 30 points and that Rice is 3-1 after a bye week since 2012.
How UNT will win:
There is a lot that has to go right for UNT to have a chance to win the game so lets start off with the QB position. McNulty has to play mistake free football. He has to be really careful about when he does take is chances down the field. Secondly someone other than Harris has to step up in the receiving game. I would like to see Turner Smiley get some more work. When he has been in this year he has made some plays at the end of games. UNT will have to really dominate in the run game and get back to the physical football that they played last year. It seems like we’ve seen 3 different types of offenses this year. I wan the one closest to last year. UNT will also need to shrink the game. The UNT defense has really struggled against balanced offenses this year. They are struggling with play recognition and well just about everything. Having a good run game could shrink this game and get the defense off the field. UNT will need to keep everything in front of them, no big plays over the top. They will need to use a contain rush against D. Jackson. He is only 6’0 and has a tough time seeing over the OL. If UNT rushes the passer like they normally do it will open up all kind of running and throwing lanes for Mr. Jackson. Finally UNT will just need to get lucky. Seems like they haven’t had a bounce go their way in awhile. Perhaps a big play to start the game could get momentum rolling in the right direction.
Adam (2-5) – Rice 34 North Texas 21
Greg (5-2) – Rice 35 North Texas 28
TEAMRANKINGS – Rice 35 North Texas 21
numberFire – Rice 31 North Texas 22
Bleacher Report – Rice 33 North Texas 20
Sports Network – Rice 41 North Texas 23
Sports Chat Place – Rice
Brett Vito – Rice 31 North Texas 17