Rice Football never trailed in regulation but left their own stadium without a win. That’s not something that will sit well with any Owls.
“This week was huge for us. This was supposed to be our breakout game… and it really stinks that we couldn’t finish it.” A Rice football team captain, Austin Trammell’s disappointed words were weighty as they hung in the air during a postgame press conference which lasted just over 10 minutes. Question were fired away. They were met with honest, frustrated answers.
Trammell said the goal of this week was to show everyone the Owls are “a lot better than our record shows.” Although they never trailed in regulation, they’ll have to wait at least one more week.
In a season littered with moral victories, Saturday’s overtime loss to Louisiana Tech doesn’t quite qualify. Once more, the Rice defense was superb, holding their opponent to multiple scores less than their season average through regulation. The offense didn’t hold up their end.
Rice scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Then Mike Bloomgren stuck to the predetermined script, swapping quarterback Wiley Green for backup Tom Stewart. And all the momentum Rice had generated up to that point began to disintegrate. After a three and out, Stewart moved the ball down the field and into the redzone. That possession ended in an interception, the first thrown by a Rice quarterback this season.
In a game which ended in overtime, Rice could ill afford to leave points on the field. They did with that interception, a missed field goal and a three-play overtime possession which ended in a field goal instead of a touchdown.
“I’m sure there will be some calls that I regret as we watch this film, there’s no doubt about that,” Bloomgren admitted, “I don’t know if anybody in our program will watch this film and not have any regrets at their job or their position. I think we’ll all have things we wish we had done different.”
If Rice doesn’t throw that interception and instead kicks that field goal, they might have avoided overtime altogether. The same is true if they’d converted that missed attempt. The Owls might not have watch J’Mar Smith end the game with his overtime touchdown run had they found a way to get the ball into the endzone on their first overtime possession. Instead, Rice football is surrounded with “ifs”.
Bloomgren is tired of those “ifs”. He, more than anyone, wants answers to the Owls’ inefficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. Ultimately, he’s the one that’s going to have to. If Rice had a few mulligans, they could be sitting at 3-2. Instead, they’re a painful 0-5. But it’s the same team that sat in the locker room at the Patterson Center on Saturday night and began to process another tough defeat.
Regardless, they’re still fighting. Results aside, the Owls unquestionably continued to battle eright up until the final whistle. They’re playing for four quarters.
Trammell’s sneak peek into the mindset of the team proved to be a fitting way to end his comments. “Usually most people need that extra push, but our team right now,” he said,” everyone is in. Everyone is fully in. Everyone’s after the same goal, the same mission”
United, Rice football isn’t throwing the towel any time soon. They’ll take it in, breakdown the film, and move on, knowing they’re closer to breaking through than their now 0-5 record reflects.
The Owls tend toward of conservative approach on offense; So far it hasn’t worked. They need to find a way to finish, a way to turn three-and-outs into downfield successes, and more importantly, into points. Until that happens, Rice could continue to find themselves in this uncomfortable position.