Rice football fell 20-3 in a home game in which they were considered slight favorites. Head coach Mike Bloomgren took the defeat personally and vows that he and his team will get better.
There were no distractions or excuses offered at the Patterson Center late Saturday night. Head coach Mike Bloomgren calmly approached the podium and delivered an honest, contrite apology for the team’s struggles against UTSA. “I did everything I knew to do to jump-start an offense today that was struggling. Nothing worked,” admitted a frustrated Bloomgren, “Point the finger squarely at me. We will get it fixed.”
The variety of unique offensives looks, personnel packages and more were no accident. The shifting methods were intentional, they just didn’t work. Bloomgren was at a loss for what would have worked against the Roadrunners. “I tried [changing quarterbacks]. I tried to get hard-headed and just run it, but we couldn’t get first downs. We tried to throw the ball around a little bit. We tried going for it on fourth down more than I ever had in my life,” he said, lamenting the zero touchdowns scored by his offense.
Rice is fortunate to have a head coach that doesn’t hide behind anyone or anything. What Bloomgren said in the aftermath of one of the most puzzling losses of his brief tenure at Rice took courage. And he’s hellbent on not having to have another one of those conversations ever again. “I need to fix this,” he declared, “I will get it right.” There were many more words said, but the message was clear. “It’s on me.”
Bloomgren knew what he was doing when he made the decision to step away from Stanford and come to Rice. He knew the road was going to be difficult, but he always believed he had the experience and the tools to build something special at South Main. He’s not giving up, and if history is any indication, he’s got the offensive brilliance to salvage reasons for hope in the midst of a devastating offensive drought.
Defense gives a reason for optimism
One of those silver linings was an incredible performance by the Rice defense. After being gashed repeatedly through the air, the Owls tightened up, allowing 43 passing yards and zero touchdowns, both the best marks for this team in 2018. “If our defense will perform like that in this program we will win a lot of games here,” Bloomgren said, adding that the performance was ” a huge step for them and a huge step in our program.”
He credited the defense with playing with a “different kind of energy”, something that was abundantly clear. The message this week hinged on playing four complete quarters. The offense didn’t play one complete quarter, but the defense held their own from start to finish.
Once again, it’s time for this team to pick themselves off the mat and move on. Bloomgren is all about the process. It’s time to see if the process can continue to progress through a rough weekend which Owls fans are ready to forget. Bloomgren won’t forget, though. He’ll learn, and hopefully be more prepared for the future.