Rice football is just days away from their first game of the 2018 season. The quarterback competition is wrapping up and coach named some camp standouts.
Fall camp is coming to an end. After a few weeks of getting working with his players hands-on, Mike Bloomgren is ready to get ready for his first football game as a head coach. The team looks good, but it’s time they hit somebody else that wasn’t wearing navy and white. Here are a few takeawys from Thursday’s practice.
Head coach Mike Bloomgren declined to name a starter, but he did hint the competition is starting to wind down. He says he’s confident both guys have what it takes to lead the offense this fall, but added that it’s “not far away from us having to make a decision and pick one of them that’s going to take the bulk of the reps.”
Bloomgren has been pretty consistent with his message on the quarterbacks throughout fall camps. He’s given both Jackson Tyner and Shawn Stankavage praise when earned and constructive criticism when needed. “They’ve both had their moments,” said Bloomgren. But time is running out.
Rice kicks off against Prairie View A&M in a week’s time. Before that game starts, Bloomgren intends to have made a decision. With the caveat that nobody has snatched the job quite yet when asked about whether or not he’d’ have his decision made before game time Bloomgren was straightforward. “We definitely will,” he said, before adding the ever so important qualifier, “internally”.
From an ability standpoint, this looks to be Jackson Tyner’s job to lose. He’s had success throwing the ball down field and getting it into tight windows. His biggest challenge has been consistency. If he can master that he’ll have a good chance at winning the job outright before camp is over.
2. Special teams
Sophomore wide receiver Austin Trammell is in line to be the starting punt returner for the Owls this fall. He’ll also be in the mix for kick return duties as well. Fellow receiver Brendan Harmon got reps with the return unit today as well. Running backs Austin and Aston Walter have done some work with the return teams. Whoever gets the nod, the Owls will have plenty of speed and athleticism on special teams this year.
Practice ended with special teams once again, but this time with a twist. Kickers Jack Fox and Hayden Tabola were pitted in a kicking competition in which the entire team was asked to pick a side. Fox was victorious and Tabola’s team did push-ups. There’s still a strong chance Fox is the Owls’ punter and kicker this fall.
3. Camp MVPs
Preparing for the Prairie View game officially began today. While fundamentals and some of the summer and fall ball drills will continue to be incorporated into campus this marks a shift in focus moving forward. When asked to look back at the players that impressed the most over the last few weeks Bloomgren named a handful of guys specifically, citing specific superlatives.
Tight end Jordan Meyers was praised for his versatility. Bloomgren called Emmanuel Esupka “special”, a comment he’s made several times already this fall. Sophomore receiver Austin Trammell was dubbed “Mr. Consistent” while senior right tackle Sam Pierce is playing “the best football he’s ever played at the offensive line position.”
On defense, Bloomgren praised Zach Abercrumbia and George Nyakwol for their consistency. As for special teams, he grinned and gave a short synopsis: “Jack Fox is Jack Fox.”