First of all, Rice went 4-8 last year and no disrespect to Rice but their player caliber is nowhere near Division I contenders. It's not a matter of beating them. There's no excuse in losing to them with the level of talent, resources, and coaching that went into our team.
What was so glaringly obvious to me was that we lacked fundamental technique in almost every position. Dropping wide open passes, free kicks hovering barely above the turf, completely idiotic personal fouls that cost us touchdowns, constantly going air when running game was clearly working, DE and backs giving up on chase... etc
So some would suggest there are legitimate excuses. First game? Lack of experience? Lack of maturity? Incomplete team cohesion?
These are not legitimate excuses. This is Division I football. There's no place for idiotic mistakes. You don't take the field without mastering the basics. You don't "there's always next game" your mistakes. I really felt like I was seeing the exact same fundamental/mental mistakes that were so prevalent under Neuheisel era. New coaches, new players, new everything... but same mistakes.
49 points on Rice is not a reason to brag. Giving up 24 points to Rice is something to be concerned with.
I hate to keep saying this, but to some degree, a boring team is a good team. When you watch teams like Bama, they clock in time sheets, do business, and get out. Everyone does his assignment competently, don't give up free yards, gain fundamental run yardage, throw when necessary, and then go home to hot shower and a nice steak dinner. Come back next week and do the same.
Nick Saban is a great coach but he is allotted the amount of practice time and resources to prepare as we do. How come we can't have nice things? I want nice things too.