Rice football opens their 2018 season against Prairie View A&M and head coach Mike Bloomgren has kept the quarterback situation completely under wraps.
Rice has one practice remaining before their first game of the 2018 season. The Owls will take on Prairie View A&M on Saturday at 6 p.m., for now they’re putting the finishing touches on their gameplan and ironing out details before the opener. Here are a few things that stuck out from Thursday’s practice.
Excitement continues to build for Game 1
Mike Bloomgren has made several stops along his coaching journey. He’s been everywhere from Alabama to Delta State, but he’s never been a head coach. Not until now. That gives Saturday added significance for him, and he can’t shake a smile on his face whenever he asked about what it’s going to be like to finally be on the field as the head coach at Rice.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited,” he grinned, “For me it’s going to be another game, I’m going to be on the sideline doing what I love with guys I love.” Against Prairie View, and throughout the season, Bloomgren plans to be “very involved” with the offense in real time. He’ll work directly with offensive coordinator Jerry Mack who will share play-calling duties with Bloomgren.
Building strength on the second team defense
If things go the right way on Saturday the Owls will have some time to spare to play some of their guys beyond the first line of their depth chart. The quarterback position is an obvious point of contention, but several other positions should see a parade of players get their first taste of live-game action on Saturday.
Antonio Montero and Blaze Alldredge have been two players that have drawn the attention of the coaching staff this fall. They’re behind veteran starters Dylan Silcox and Martin Nwakamma on the depth chart, but have shown enough effort and discipline to earn themselves meaningful playing time against Prairie View.
In the secondary, Boomgren pointed to redshirt freshman Tyrae Thornton, backing p junior corner Justin Bickham. Whether its special teams or later in the game, Bloomgren expects to get Thornton some minutes.
Watch out for No. 33
On the offensive side of the ball, Bloomgren continues to champion running back Emmanuel Esupka. He’s been kept fresh in fall practices, avoiding contact all throughout camp. Bloomgren maintains he has the chance to “make national noise” if the Owls can pave the way for him to run.
Neither Jackson Tyner nor Shawn Stankavage had been given any insight on what the gameplan for Saturday is going to look like. Bloomgren hasn’t informed either of them who’s taking the first snap of the game, how many drives they’ll play or what any potential rotation might look like. He’s kept this secret close to the vest, and didn’t divulge much more this week.
“If somebody can tip the scales we’d love to have a quarterback,” Bloomgren said as he continued to maintain an open mind regarding the competition. “If not,” he added, “we’ll have a two-headed monster and we’ll try to be very specific with which plays we give each of them as a coaching staff to give them there best opportunity to give us our best opportunity.”
Jackson Tyner didn’t seem to care that he hadn’t yet been made privy to the details quite yet. His mindset entering Saturday was fairly simple. “I’m just going to go out on Saturday and play football,” he said candidly, “I’m just going to go out and do my job.”