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'17 Rice-UTSA game page

UTSA 20, Rice 7

SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 22) – Some of the Rice Owls’ same old bugaboos reared their ugly heads at the Alamodome here Saturday night, as the visiting Institute Boys, despite no paucity of effort, wound up seeing themselves once again on the short end of things.

The University of Texas - San Antonio, a school that seven years ago had never even played a football game, humbled their scholarly, historically-storied opponent for the third year in a row, this time to the tune of a 20-7 score.

For the Owls, it was a clear case of, if you keep on doing to same old things over and over again, you’re gonna hafta expect the same old result. Over and over again.

It all started, as it typically seems to, early in the first quarter. The Rice defense seemed to be making an early statement by shutting down an incipient UTSA opening drive.

After the Roadrunners had picked up four first downs in taking the opening kickoff and marching right down the field, the Owls’ Roe Wilkins shut down UTSA’s leading rusher Jalen Rhodes, stopping him at the line of scrimmage on the Rice 25, forcing a fumble and gobbling up the pill himself.

The Owls, behind quarterback Sam Glaesmann, moved the ball to midfield, but on first and then from there, the Roadrunners’ stalwart defensive end Marcus Davenport was unblocked and roared in to sack the Owl QB, force and recover a fumble, and ramble in 34 yards for the UTSA touchdown.

On the night, the 6-7 defender from San Antonio Stevens was credited with 11 tackles, six of the solo variety, plus 3.5 TFLs and two sacks.

After the Owls advanced as far as the UTSA 40 on the ensuing possession, punter Jack Fox pinned back the Miners, er, the Roadrunners, at their own nine yard line. But little good did it do.

Three play later, UTEP’s Tyrell Clay took the inside handoff and broke into the clear for 73 yards before he was finally downed by Brian Womac, who’d roared down the field from his linebacker position to make the touchdown-saving nab at the Rice six.

The Rice defense kept the Roadrunners out of the end zone, however, Brian Womac, Cole Thomas and J. T. Ibe making key stops, so that the lead was only 10-0 when UTSA’s Jared Sackett nailed a chip-shot field goal.

Once again, Brian Womac shone in defense for the Owls, picking up three quarterback sacks. With eight so far on the season, he leads Conference USA in that category.

After an exchange of possessions, Roadrunner punt Yannis Routsas pinned the Owls back at their four yard line with a 58-yard punt, whereupon the Flock responded, taking nine plays to edge as far as midfield, where Sam Glaesmann dropped back and hit Aaron Cephus on the fly for 50 yards and the score.

Just a play earlier, the Owls had faced third and 23 on their own 35, but a pass attempt from Sam Glaesmann to Kylen Granson was broken up just a bit too rambunctiouslly by Roadrunner safety Nate Gaines, and the pass interference gave the Flock a first down at midfield.

That’s how the first half ended, UTSA, 10-7, and all things considered, the Owls had reason for optimism as they entered the halftime locker room. After all, adjustments could be made, the defensive coaches could figure out a way to block Davenport, and a sputtering Rice offense could be fine-tuned just a bit. Right?

Only, it so happened that during the first ten minutes of the third quarter, the Owls had collected a grand total of minus-one total yards. Second play of the tsecond half, UTSA’s Clayton Johnson intercepted Sam Glaesmann. Result: one frosh quarterback pulled, another one inserted and Miklo Smalls came in.

Didn’t help matters.

Meanwhile, the Roadrunner offense startng clicking, durng the same interval rolling for 118 yards and picking up a TD and a field goal in the balance to take a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Take away the 50-yard Glaesmann-to-Cephus pass, which coincidentally resulted in the Owls’ only points of the game, and the Rice passing stats looked like this: Five of 13 for 95 yards, with two interceptions, one each thrown by Same and Miklo.

Take away the 50-yarder, and Sam Glaesmann was 2-of-8 for 34 total yards. But he did scramble for an additional net 69 yards rushing, leading the Owls in that category.

Meanwhile, Miklo, in his second on-field effort, was three of five through the air for 61yards with one interception, incurred on late-game, long downfield heave.

As the third quarter ended, the Owl offense finally showed a sign of making a game of it, sitting on the Roadrunner ten yard line after rolling 56 yards in 10 plays. That’s where the action ended, though, as the Owls faked a field goal attempt on fourth and 14 from the UTSA 22, a play in which Sam Glaesmann managed to scramble for only seven.

With the way the Owl offense had been stalling out, it made little sense, at that point, in taking only the three-pointer.

In what might stand as the Understatement of the Year, Rice head coach David Bailiff summed up afterwards, “"We got to find a way offensively to generate more than seven points a game. We just can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes."


HOUSTON (Oct. 19) – So, will this be the weekend that the Rice Owls awake from their slumber and make a competitive showing against one of the more formidable of their Conference USA league foes?

Maybe. The offensive lineup appears to be as hale and hardy as it’s been since the UTEP game, the Institute Boys’ only win of the season so far.

The Rice coaching staff has announced that redshirt frosh Sam Glaesmann once again will get the starting nod at quarter, and his fellow walking wounded Sam Stewart is apparently back in fine fettle at the running back position.

It’s a combination that worked against UTEP, as the Owls ground out a relatively decisive 31-14 decision at the Sun Bowl in a game where Rice pounded the middle and controlled the game with their running attack.

That hasn’t happened another time, either before or since.

The Owls face a UTSA team that comes in on the heels of a two-game losing streak. Last week in Denton, the Roadrunners held a 26-22 lead in the final 1:07 of play, only to fall when UNT drove 98 yards with no timeouts to pull out a 29-26 win.

The week before, trailing by 15 in the fourth quarter against Southern Miss, UTSA rallied to within 31-29 with less then a minute to play on the strength of a pair of Marquez McNair touchdown receptions, only to see a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass attempt sail incomplete.

It was a demoralizing comedown for Los Correcaminos, as they’d started off the fall campaign with three straight victories, including a season-opening win over Baylor in Waco.

On Monday, the UTSA players called a closed meeting to talk over their predicament, and plant a victory garden for their next foe, that being the Owls, and make sure they don’t fall for a third time in a row to the same bad juju.

"They called the meeting on their own," UTSA head coach Frank Wilson said of the confab. "There was some soul-searching and digging deep.”

With those two last-minute losses, the Roadrunners actually lag behind Rice in the conference race, being winless at 0-and-2, while the Owls still have their win at UTEP.

UTSA has emerged as an offensive force this season, as the Roadrunners rank second in C-USA and 30th among FBS teams in total offense with 460.8 yards per game. The offense exploded for 502 yards in the 51-17 win against Southern on Sept. 16, as the Roadrunners racked up 335 yards through the air and added 167 more on the ground.

Goliad native Dalton Sturm has provided a steady hand for the UTSA offense this fall. The senior quarterback is completing passes at 67.9 percent clip (91-134), which leads Conference USA and ranks 10th in the nation.

 After passing for a school-record 367 yards and three touchdowns against Southern Miss and another 215 yards and two additional scores versus North Texas, Sturm now has thrown for 1,241 yards and 11 TDs this season.

The Roadrunner rushing offense motors along at 5.0 yards a clip behind the running of Jalen Rhodes, who’s picked up 437 yards and three rushing touchdowns so far, and Sturm, who has added 236 rushing yards to his passing totals.

Defensively, UTSA has been successful in keepng the pressure on. The Roadrunner defenders have registered 42 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 15 quarterback pressures and five interceptions through its first 20 quarters of the season. The Roadrunners lead Conference USA and rank fifth in the FBS with an average of 8.4 TFLs per game.

That statistic has been the result of a team effort, as 18 different players have taken part in a stop behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 165 yards. Senior defensive end Marcus Davenport leads the way with 8.5 tackles for loss, while sophomore defensive end Eric Banks and senior linebacker La'Kel Bass have posted 5.5 and 4.5, respectively.

Rice will counter the UTSA defensive effort with a shuffled quarterback deck, as Glaesmann returns as the starter, but with true freshman Miklo Smalls backing him up. At Tuesday’s press briefing, Rice head coach David Bailiff hinted the frosh would-be phenom will see playing time as well, after a disastrous debut against Army two Saturdays ago.

Then there’s former starter Jackson Tyner; what of him? Well, Coach B says he’ll use the 6-5 junior’s size and skill elsewhere on the field, including lining him up, on certain plays, at the tight end position.

“We’re ' going to package him in the offense in different capacities," Coach Bailiff said Tuesday.

After a week off and a chance to lick their wounds a bit, the Owls are said to be upbeat – or so reported team leaders linebacker Emmuel Ellerbee and offensive lineman Trey Martin.

“Everyone's getting their confidence back, we're getting more players back who were injured and that's going to help us going forward," Trey reported.

Hey, all it’ll take for the Owls to attain bowl eligibility yet in this so-far benighted season is for them to win five out of their last six. Chin up, right?

"Let's hit the refresh button," Coach Bailiff insisted Tuesday. "There's a lot of parity in this conference. We just have to play some good football at the end and things will work out for us. That's the plan, that's the goal."