Rice football hopes to learn from their mistakes last weekend against Southern Miss as they approach their Week 5 game against Wake Forest.
The tone of Tuesday’s press conference was toughness and consistency. The Southern Miss game left a sour taste in the mouths of the coaching staff and the players, but they know this is one data point in a much larger journey
“Any time you hit one of those rough patches, whether its in life or in this game, the only way to get out of it is to work,” said head coach Mike Bloomgren. “You hear me talk about process a lot, and the team has heard me talk about process a lot more.”
That process is what’s going to take last year’s one-win team and turn it into something better. It’s going to take this 1-3 squad and make it better. Little by little. Bloomgren admitted the struggle is tough, but he also didn’t hold any illusions that things would ever have been much smoother:
“One of the things we all want to do is speed it up,” remarked Bloomgren. “That’s not reality all the time. I think when you’re trying to do great things and when you’re striving for greatness, the journey is tough. And we have to understand that.”
As far as objectives for the upcoming game, Bloomgren hit on the importance of the team controlling time of possession, limiting big plays on defense and utilizing their weapons on offense.
Defensive lineman Zach Abercrumbia doubled down on Bloomgren’s intensity, describing the theme of the week as “say less and work more”. He led a players-only meeting on Sunday, evidence of the desire this team has to get better.
There is a time to focus on what the team did last weekend, but there’s also something to be said for turning over a new lear this week. Abercrumbia stressed that every game is important, and he’s getting ready for Wake Forest the same way he’d prepare for anyone else, remarking, “Every time you’re out there is the biggest game of the season. If you don’t believe that then a lot of times what happened Saturday will happen.”
The most interesting personal story of the week belongs to Rice quarterback Shawn Stankavage. Before he transferred to Rice from Vanderbilt, Stankavage grew up in North Carolina, surrounded by a family of UNC Tarheels He was the unique one, opting to fo west, twice, rather than stay home with his family.
That family will be out in full force supporting him this weekend. Stankavage said the thought of starting in his home state means a lot to him, “It’s going to be awesome. It’s not like any other game, it’s going to be a special one for me,” adding that it was “something I’ve always dreamed about.”
To get there, he and the Owls need to keep moving forward. “We’re not where we want to be,” echoed Stankavage.