Coach Mike Bloomgren discussed Rice football‘s returns from the bye week and upcoming game against Southern Miss, the Owls’ second road game of the season.
Coach Bloomgren admitted the 1-2 start has featured a mixed bag of highs and lows. “We got to continue to play four quarters of football and finish strong.” He doesn’t blame conditioning, but rather the lack of consistency for the Owls’ last two losses. “If we just do the same things we’re doing in the second and the third quarter in the fourth quarter we might find a way to win,” he suggested, adding “You can’t do the things we did late in that game against a good football team… and expect to win the game.”
With the lumps have come moments of pride. “This team is showing great fight,” praised Bloomgren, “They’re continuing to work. They’re fighting for each other and they’re doing all the things we ask of them.” Little by little the Owls are making that incremental progress, something the bye week was particularly useful for this past week.
A few individuals earned special recognition for their strong starts. Bloomgren talked encouragingly about the progress quarterback Shawn Stankavage was making this year, citing his mental acuity on the field in addition to his accurate arm. Graysen Schantz was nominated for the Campbell Trophy, given to the nation’s top scholar-athlete, an award Bloomgren admittedly holds with great esteem.
Emmanuel Esukpa, who currently ranks in the top 15 in rushing, earned a shout out from his head coach as well. Bloomgren went beyond that, saying “What he’s doing without the ball in protection might be as impressive as what he’s doing with it.” Not faint praise for one of the better backs in Conference USA, and maybe the nation.
On the injury front, the Owls should have a full complement of weapons at their disposal on Saturday. All starters are expected to be available, with Dylan James the only member of the two-deep listed as questionable.