Fall camp has begun and Rice Football is attacking the new challenge with vigor. Head coach Mike Bloomgren implores his team to seize the moment.
Rice football is one week into a fall camp experience unlike any other. The most noticeable change is the weather. The Owls have traded the swelter summer heat for the first cold front of the fall with their delayed start date.
Though the journey was bumpy, Rice still prepared as if football was on the horizon. “We’ve done more walkthroughs than any team I’ve ever been a part of,” Bloomgren said. Our kids have a good understanding of our schemes.”
That much has been evident on both sides of the ball. In some years, it takes freshmen some time to get up to speed. This time around, the youngsters look much more comfortable with the ball in their hands. Rather than being buried on the depth chart, these newcomers are making waves. That’s especially encouraging given the Owls don’t have a game scheduled for another three weeks.
“We’re in a good place. We’re as conditioned as we’ve ever been coming into camp,” Bloomgren said. “[The team has] about 100 zoom hours so we just need 10,000 reps on the field and that’s what we’re going to try to do in the next month.”
Beyond counting minutes on the grass, Rice has objectives set to quantity the leap in preparedness from camp in year two to year three. On offense, coordinator Jerry Mack wants to see an increase in explosive plays. That theme began in spring practices, but carrying it over with new faces in camp is one of his priorities.
Defensive coordinator Brian Smith put turnovers at the top of his to-do list. “Communication has been so much better than it’s been in the past,” he said, crediting the group’s in-sync behavior as a building block toward that effort.
If Rice can do both of those things, the bizarre circumstances it took to reach this point in Bloomgren’s coaching tenure will have been well spent. Looking back at the past few weeks, Bloomgren was emphatic the team was moving in the right direction, saying “we’ve done all the right things to get prepared for this moment.” How he and this team uses the next several moments leading up to October 24 will determine the trajectory for this season. So far, the Owls are on the right track.