Rice football went back to work on a wet and cold Monday evening, working as hard as ever to play LSU in Week 12.
It was 45 degrees, raining and all around ugly outside. The Rice football team showed up and they worked. Head coach Mike Bloomgren has made the promise week in and week out that his team would put in the effort to get better. On an evening when they could have done the bare minimum they ground it out til the final whistle.
There are no participation trophies for good days of practice and this team is through with moral victories. Still, they keep showing up and putting in the work. That’s the mark of a culture shift that will hopefully lead to results on the field soon enough.
How many more quarterback can the Owls play?
Seeing Shawn Stankavage back at the helm of the Rice offense was a return to business as usual. Parker Towns being the next signal caller brought into the game was an unexpected curveball. He completed 1-of-3 passes for 10 yards and picked up 10 yards on the ground on two carries.
Quarterbacks coach Robbie Picazo said the insertion of Picazo into the offense was sparked by Evan Marshman‘s success in the run game. Having that dimension in the arsenal was something the staff liked and Towns did enough during practice to earn the shot at his own package on Saturday.
If the Owls did need to turn to a backup at quarterback behind Stankavage, Jackson Tyner is still expected to be the next man up. Picazo said Towns is “doing a really good job wholeheartedly attacking the package we give him” and they’re not going to put too much on his plate just yet.
Aston Walter seized his chance
Another somewhat unexpected development from the Louisiana Tech game was the career-high in carries for Aston Walter. Taking over the lead back duties for his brother Austin Walter, Aston started the game and led the team in carries with 17. Juma Otoviano, the Owls’ wildcat quarterback had four rushes and Austin didn’t carry the ball at all.
The driver for Aston’s uptick in work was his dependability. Running backs coach Drew Svoboda used that word multiple times to describe Aston’s reliability and role in the offense. “He’s been a guy that’s always been there and been ready when called upon,” Svoboda said, “He got a little bit more opportunity and he took it and ran with it.”
Putting Aston on the field at running back lets the staff move Austin to the slot, a position he’s more comfortable with and can play extremely effectively.
More young guns
With two games remaining on the season the opportunity to give younger players more reps and maintain their redshirt is being evaluated by the staff. If there is an opportunity to give some freshman and lesser-utilized players a look in the LSU game there could be several Owls that get increased minutes.
Freshman corner Andrew Bird figures to be near the top of the list of newcomers. He hasn’t seen game action yet this season and participated with the second team some during practice. Sophomore linebacker Garrett Grammer has seen brief playing time on the field this season but has the potential to get an extended look against LSU.