Rice football coach Mike Bloomgren didn’t mince words in his presser entering Saturday’s game against UTSA. He offered honest feedback on his team’s production across the board.
The press conference kicked off on a sober note as head coach Mike Bloomgren gave a few final remarks about his team’s performance against Wake Forest. Turnovers combined with a slow start put the Owls in an early hole from which they were never able to recover. Through the challenging situation, he remained unwavering in his belief of his team.
“As we sit here in this tough time I think our unity and our culture is going to shine through,” Bloomgren declared, “What I think you have right now is a hungry football team, to get back home play another conference opponent and put a much better product on the field for four quarters this Saturday.”
Playing for quarters starts with the position that gets more credit when the Owls win and more blame when they lose: quarterback. Bloomgren called the play of Shawn Stankavage “a little up and down” through the first five games of the season, offering a succinct critique for his starting quarterback, “the reality is he’s got to play better for our offense to be efficient and operate the way we want it to.”
Don’t read too far between he lines on that one. There isn’t any turmoil at the quarterback position. Stankavage is the Owls’ starter, and has shown early on in the season he can progress in his understanding and command of the offense. As coach says, he just needs to keep learning and executing.
It didn’t take long for Bloomgren to acknowledge his star running back Austin Walter, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in all-purpose yards. He gleamed with pride, mentioning that Walter is the kind of player that “makes coaches look smart.”
Perhaps the most bothersome unit on offense thus far, Bloomgren expressed concerns with how his front five had progressed throughout the year. “We’re having problems with plays that we’ve repped multiple times against the same look, being able to perform and execute those assignments in games,” he said. Not a problem he hoped to be dealing with at this point of the season.
The onus, in Bloomgren’s eyes, falls on the players on the field. “I’m a sideline away if someone doesn’t block the right dude,” he acknowledged, “more than anything we need that to be the mentality in the huddle during the week” adding “the technique, all the stuff in the weight room doesn’t come into play if we don’t block the right dude”
Dependability is the sticking point as this position, something which has opened up doors for other players in the past few weeks.
Although he stressed that the title “starter” wasn’t important, Bloomgren did name a few players that had elevated their play to warrant more playing time. Antonio Montero, Brendan Harmon, Cole Garcia and Gio Gentossi were all mentioned by name during the press conference.
At the end of the day “every rep you see if earned,” emphasized Bloomgren, before elaborating with “some of our more dependable players right now are some of those young guys and new guys to our program”