Head coach Mike Bloomgen and Rice football were close for most of their loss to North Texas, right up until the fourth quarter.
Four. There are four quarters in a college football game. That’s what put head coach Mike Bloomgren’s analysis of the Owls’ play on Saturday into the proper context. “For three quarters I couldn’t have been prouder of how we played,” Bloomgren remarked following the loss. “We started off the game the way we wanted to,” he said, “but when the game is on the line… their guys made more plays than we did.”
That’s not the first time Bloomgren has sung that tune following a Rice loss this season. Hopefully, it is the last.
Remedying those woes is an objective shared by the Owls’ new starting quarterback, Wiley Green. “That fourth quarter is definitely something we gotta to work on,” Green said, “We just gotta learn how to finish. At the end of the day that’s what matters and that’s how you win football games.”
Winning football games is something Rice hasn’t done in eight consecutive tries. More often than not, this team shows progress. But they haven’t reached the point where they can overcome their own mistakes. As good as the Owls’ opponents have played of late, there’s been a steady undercurrent of Rice beating themselves. The coaching staff has seen it, too.
“From a mental standpoint, we’re not able to overcome those things,” Bloomgren admitted, “When we make a mistake or have something go against us like that we fold instead of poking out our chest and finding a way to get over it.”
Through all the bad, glimmers of hope still remain. On Saturday it was three quarters. Prior to that the Owls had been looking for a full half, or even a single touchdown at all. The effort is there. It’s the execution that’s lacking. Execution can be coached; effort can’t.
Bloomgren summarized his session with one reassuring comment, “As long as the coaches and the players are going to give everything they have to this program we’re going to find a way. The wins are going to come. We just gotta keep working.”
The Owls’ next game is against UTEP at home for Homecoming. There’s no better time to pick up their first conference win like the present.
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