You may have noticed how back to school sales are creeping earlier into the summer. For Rice football, back to school comes especially early this year.
Rice began preseason practice at 6 a.m. Monday. That’s July 24. If the Owls were to make a bowl game, they could be still playing football five months from now.
In comparison, only two NFL teams had veterans report to training camp before Monday. The Owls will practice every morning this week, before taking four days off and then resuming practices Aug. 3.
The primary reason, of course, for the ridiculously early start is Rice will face Stanford in Sydney, Australia on Aug. 26. Kickoff is 9 p.m. CST on ESPN.
Rice has a lot of work to do on the field to prepare for Stanford, but a trip 8,500 miles away also takes a heavy dose of preparation off the field. And that evidently translated into holding fall practices before summer school ends.
The California Bears made the Australia trip a year ago and defeated Hawaii 51-31. Rice coach David Bailiff reached out to Cal coach Sonny Dykes for advice. One such nugget was to make sure the metric system doesn’t get in the way.
Bailiff went on to say that the coaches have talked extensively with the training staff, medical staff and strength staff to develop a plan to combat the unusual nature of playing a game halfway across the world. It involves movement times and compression pants.
“When Cal came back, Coach Dykes said it took them three days before they could do anything,” Bailiff said. “We are using his experiences to build a better plan.”
The plan for the time being includes working out in shorts and helmets and beginning to prepare for the season ahead. Former Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak even stopped by to lend a hand on the first day of practice.
With the earliest camp in Rice history, it is sure to be a long season. Can the Owls turn around a two-year slide or will it be another loooooong season? Stay tuned.