Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sixth year Rice Owls coach Mike Bloomgren met with Rice media on Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s game to discuss his team’s excitement about the start of the season and playing their season opener against the #11 Texas Longhorns. Bloomgren preceded Owls starting quarterback JT Daniels at the availability and detailed his team’s focus, leadership and experience.
The Longhorns have reeled off 15 straight wins against the Owls, who are making their debut in the American Athletic Conference after playing the last 18 seasons in Conference USA.
Here are quotes from Bloomgren regarding the Longhorns, Sarkisian, key players and the importance of this game for his team.
“We have an awesome opportunity this week. Heading to play the University of Texas. It’s a great challenge for our football team. We understand how talented they are. We’ve been preparing all offseason for them.”
“I think physically and mentally we’re a stronger football team and that’s going to give us our best chance as we go out there.”
“We’ve added key people that we’ve talked about but again, you’re playing an unbelievably talented Texas team with a coaching staff led by coach Steve Sarkisian and really an all-star cast.”
“He’s got two former head coaches on his staff – a lot of people that I’ve had a chance to play numerous times and other institutions. Like defensive coordinator Pete [Kwiatkowski] does a fabulous job of making everything difficult and I think everybody knows Sarks background… whether you go back to those mid 2000 USC teams when him and Lane [Kiffin] they were as innovative as anybody in the country.
“I mean just [Sarkisian] an unbelievable offensive mind that’s very surgical, and so I know they’re going to have great schemes for us, in addition to those talented players. But that certainly doesn’t stop me from being eager to see our team take the field DKR on Saturday, and really let all of our hard work that we put into this program show on the field.”
“[Quinn Ewers] Yeah no rookie. As talented as they get, right. That’s what everybody said, everybody wanted that kid. He was the first NIL baby, if you will, that made a big splash with some of that stuff. Now he ended up back at Texas and he’s a large human with a Howitzer for an arm and he makes good decisions and he’s a lot to deal with. So you got him and you got Worthy out there, cast of characters, the tight end…”
“Everybody wants to talk about the two backs they lost to the National Football League. They got good ones coming back, including the number one back, the number one freshman in America at the running back position. And he’s going to have to fight to get his butt on the field. There’s no shortage of talent anywhere on their roster but when you talk about Quinn Ewers, when he is making good decisions and has the time he is a very formidable threat at the quarterback position.”
“In retrospect I look back and I wonder if I, or we as a coaching staff, made too much of a big deal about that burnt orange logo on the side of their helmet. Because when you have Texas kids that grew up here, it’s a big deal to play those guys. There’s been no talk. We’ve talked about what a cool environment it’s going to be plat in DKR in front of 100,000 people. Not only are the eyes of Texas going to be upon you but FOX national TV is going to be upon you. You are going to be seen by millions and the great opportunity that is. But I guess if I look back I just wonder that if me hyping this game up so much in the past made these kids… Gosh I don’t know, but we’re so different now. I can tell you there is nobody that’s enamored with their logo. There’s nobody that’s scared about the opportunity to go perform in this game. We got a bunch of guys that are dying for this opportunity to take that big stage and perform.”
The Longhorns and Owls will kickoff at 2:30 PM CST at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. The game will be televised nationally on FOX.