Aggies Demolish Owls As Johnny Manziel Returns from His Half-Game Exile
So the Rice Owls went up to Kyle Field and took on the Texas Aggies on Saturday. And of course it didn't go too well, with the Owls losing 52-31 before 86,686 Aggies. Just looking at the score, you wouldn't know that the Owls led 14-7 after the first quarter and looked to be in control of the game, the offense seemingly doing whatever it wanted to do. But the Aggies are bigger, more physical and just plain better than the Owls, and despite a spectacular jaw-dropping TD catch by Jordan Taylor just before the half, the Owls were down 28-21 before Johnny Manziel had even stepped onto the field.
John Royal Kyle Field wasn't exactly welcoming to the Rice Owls
Head coach David Bailiff said at last week's media luncheon that it wasn't so much about defeating the Aggies as it was about learning lessons, improving and getting ready for Conference USA play. So with that in mind, here are a few things the Owls probably learned.
4. FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS
When playing teams like the Aggies, or pretty much any team, the Owls have to play smart. They have to execute the offense. They have to make tackles. They have to not make stupid plays. For the first quarter, the Owls played perfect football. The offense was executed to perfection. The Owls went 96 yards on five plays on their very first drive to shoot out to the quick 7-0 lead. The Aggies tied it, but the Owls were able to grab the lead again.
The team lost focus in the second quarter, the Aggies were able to climb to the 28-14 lead, but then the Aggies made a last minute drive. QB Taylor McHargue's third and goal pass from the five was tipped and looked to be a sure Aggie interception, but Jordan Taylor appeared from nowhere, grabbed the ball in the air, and strolled in for the TD. But that's the last time things went right for the Owls the entire game.
"I was really pleased with how this football game started," head coach David Bailiff said. "We had a 96-yard drive, touchdown. Offensively to come in and play Texas A&M and have over 500 yards of offense  and to look at what we did great, and to see the mistakes we made, to see how really good a football team we're going to be, offensively."
McHargue had communication issues in the second quarter. He threw interceptions on the Owls first two drives of the third quarter. And the whole team appeared to be lacking focus. The defense would make a great play on Johnny Manziel, only to forget how to tackle or cover and give up a long touchdown on the next play. The Owls can be a good team when they focus on the game. But until they figure how to keep focus on every play, they'll have some problems.
3. CHARLES ROSS IS A BEAST
The Owls have a good offense. Even in years past, when they weren't very good, the offense could move the football. But the team has really been lacking a power running game. Not Saturday. Senior Charles Ross literally, at times, seemed to put the Owls on his back, driving through the line with Aggies wrapped around him then bursting into the open for extra yardage. He gained 112 yards on 19 carries, scoring two TDs from the ground and scoring off a pass.
"The offensive line did a really good job of getting a hat on a hat," Ross said. "Part of being a good running back is getting to the second level and making guys miss."
If the Owls can keep this running game going for the rest of the season, especially once they hit Conference USA play, then this team will win lots of games.