Rice football isn’t in must-win mode quite yet, but the effort in Saturday’s game will determine how committed the Owls are to getting better.
Head coach Mike Bloomgren won’t say it explicitly, but his team faces a potential watershed moment against Wake Forest. The results from the Southern Miss team didn’t sit well with this team and Saturday’s tilt with the Demon Deacons marks the first return to action after that disappointing performance.
The Owls’ options on Saturday are simple: press on and continue to grow or acquiesce to a hum-drum season. When evaluating his team’s performance against Southern Miss, Bloomgren was slightly confused, going as far as to say “We didn’t play like us. We didn’t play like we want to.”
Bloomgren’s most honest, and starting statement put this team on notice. Now is the time to show up. Rice football might lose again, but it won’t be from lack of effort.
This puts the 2018 Rice football team at a crossroads. It’s not win or go home, it’s want or go home. If they pack it in they’ll still probably manage to pick up another win along the way, showing improvement from the 1-win campaign a year ago.
But this team is mad. “They outhit us,” Bloomgren vented. “We say intellectual brutality, but just saying it and creating the hashtag doesn’t mean you are it.” Becoming what they want to be and reaching that end goal is a ways away, but as he said in the Owls’ midweek press conference, this is a process, and it’s not going to be easy.
Saturday’s game against Wake Forest isn’t just a test against a solid Demon Deacons squad. It’s an internal battle, between each player and himself. This is a make or break moment for this team, and the future of the season hangs in the balance. Their resiliency is the backbone of progress.
With that progress will eventually come wins. Ultimately, that’s why Mike Bloomgren left Stanford and ended up at South Main. After practice this week he cocked his head and said with a grin, “My wife is prettier after a win. Everything in your life is better after a win. We’re in this to win.”
The wins will come. On Saturday, we need to see the effort.
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