Rice football has hired Marques Tuiasosopo as its new offensive coordinator. His task: reinvigorate the Owls’ offense.
Marques Tuiasosopo was introduced on Tuesday as the new offensive coordinator for Rice Football. Tuiasosopo brings a wealth of experience from the Pac-12 with him to South Main. His path to Houston includes stops at Washington, UCLA, USC and Cal where he served in a variety of roles coaching tight ends and quarterbacks.
Head coach Mike Bloomgren said Tuiasosopo checked his three most important criteria, saying Tuiasosopo “see[s] the game the way I do”, can design and call the passing game, and can “build the quarterback room from the ground up.”
To quell any illusions of what would or wouldn’t be changing, Tuiasosopo was emphatic about what the Rice offense was going to look like under his direction.
“Hey, we’re going to run the ball.”
The son of a defensive lineman, Tuiasosopo explained the physicality and importance of winning in the trenches was something that had been ingrained in him from a young age.
He talked about a commitment to being able to “throw it over the top”. That will still be a component of the offense. But Tuiasosopo noted the ability to take those vertical shots starts with running the rock. He and Bloomgren are aligned on that central tenant.
That balance goes all the way back to his playing days. The former Washington quarterback became the first player to throw for 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in a game as he set a school record of 509 yards in a win over Stanford.
He credits a lot of his growth to this point to a handful of notable coaches he’s had the privilege to work under. From Jon Gruden, he learned the importance of protecting the quarterback. From David Shaw, he learned how to stay poised under pressure. Steve Sarkisian, who he’ll stand on the opposite sideline from this coming fall, instilled in him the value of executing at a high level without sacrificing all of the fun.
Now at Rice, the first-time offensive coordinator for the first time in his career seeks to bring all of that experience together into one coherent plan of attack.
When it comes to the X’s and O’s, Bloomgren reiterated he doesn’t expect a seismic shift in the scheme. The notable change, if any, would a deeper exploration into RPO’s and similar concepts Tuiasopopo has direct experience with in the past.
At the end of the day, no matter how Tuiasosopo and Bloomgren build it, the expectations are rising. The offense has lagged behind the defense, most notably in the past two seasons. The changes to the coaching staff reflected Bloomgren’s desire to reset and address that side of the ball. “I wanted some fresh ideas to come into the building,” Bloomgren said.
Tuiasosopo has been on campus for a matter of days. He has one spring practice under his belt. Both he and the Rice offense have a lot of work to do this spring. That could include another reset at the quarterback position
On that front, probably Tuiasosopo’s most imminent priority, the new OC stressed a fresh start. “There’s a clean slate for those four young men in the quarterback room here at Rice,” he said. “Let’s go out and see who can be the best guy this year.”
From the quarterback spot to the offense as a whole, Tuiasosopo will be busy.
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