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2021 week-when-we-played-Texas page

Texas 58 Rice 0

HOUSTON (Sept. 19) – Those of you who have any idea how a team that played Arkansas off their feet for three quarters, turned tail and was completely outmanned, humbled, humiliated by a Texas outfit that had been simply thrashed by that same Arkansas eleven the week before – please advise if you have a plausible explanation.

Admittedly, experience has told us that the transitive nature of comparative football scores has never been anything in which to place stock. Or bet on.

Even so, someone tell is it that a team that led a presently 3-0 Arkansas club midway in the third quarter, turned around and turned in nine straight quarters of some of the less laudable football play that might have been exhibited by an Institute squad in Rice’s 107-year athletic history.

It’s maddening.

The one statistic that sticks out most blatantly, and which has freely been cited as emblematic of the ignominy, is the 123- 7 scoreboard thrashing our Owls sustained in those nine quarters of play.

It’s undeniable that the injuries sustained by the squad during that skein – as many as nine Owls had to leave the game with injury in Austin – required Rice coaches to have to put players on the field they never expected to have to use. That sounds like a huge difference-maker, but it doesn’t account for the fail-after -fail we all saw on the field. No need to recount any of them here.

Yet, some would ask, why all this melodrama? After all, this Rice team sits at 0-3, exactly where the great bulk of its waning fan base figured it would be three weeks into the season. So what else is new?

Even non-gray-haired Rice fans can remember a similar start to the 2006 season under firebrand first-year Coach Todd Graham, when the Owls lost their first four games in embarrassing fashion, including a 52-7 tumble to Texas at Reliant, and then a 55-7 thrashing at the hand of Bobby Bowden’s last Florida State team in Tallahassee.

That season, too, after the 0-4 start, largely had been written off, but at West Point the following week, Chase Clement found his magic touch, turning in a double-plus quarterback performance in leading the Owls to a 48-14 win over the Cadets.

Of course that was the takeoff point for a year in which the Owls went seven and five regular season, earning a trip to the New Orleans Bowl, which we can recall was the first bowl game for our Institute Boys since 1961. Forty-five years.

Was it a miracle? Can it be done again? Can Luke McCaffrey, or Jake Constantine, or for that matter, Jovoni Johnson (if he hasn’t already transferred to Harvard, and if so, who would blame him?) all of a sudden find his mettle launching the Owls to a repeat of that 2006 season?

The fates tell us: no, it can’t.

Even if our lads turns in record-breaking stats en route to a rout in Saturday’s upcoming game against Texas Southern, the level of competition would prevent any rosy conclusions to be drawn.

Chase Clement’s coming- out party that gray day at Michie Stadium was a thing to behold. It was stunning to see a young man so firmly grasp hold of his capabilities – especially from the viewpoint of a few yards away on the sideline. Memories.

Say what you will about Todd Graham, that 2006 team showed fire, discipline, a never-quit attitude, and an uncanny propensity to just make plays, in so doing pulling several victories from the jaws of defeat, proving once again the old saw, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Take a look at the competitiveness of several Conference USA teams this season -- you know which ones we are talking about – and the idea of winning five out of the last eight after a victory over TSU is less than likely, much less than likely, almost unfathomable, unless the Rice team, and the Rice coaching staff in particular, exhibit characteristics not yet seen during the coaching tenure of Mike Bloomgren.

Could it be done without a completely revamped offensive game plan? Could it been done without the special teams showing some of the skill and preparation seen in 2006 under special-teams coach Pete Lembo? (By the way, who is our special-teams coach this season? Would anyone admit to it?)

Long-time Rice football fans, lettermen in their day – men with much greater football acumen than this writer -- would have to answer in the negative: no, it cannot be done. know what? Now, you fine young men of Rice, go out there and show us we are wrong. In fact, make us look like fools. We would cherish the memory of it, much as we did in those long-gone days of ‘06.