The Stanford college football program has a tradition of being a high profile. It’s reputation is built on winning big games. Over the years, the Cardinal have produced some legendary names in American football. Players such as Jim Plunkett (Superbowl winner with the Los Angeles Raiders) and quarterback John Elway (Two time Superbowl winner with the Denver Broncos). In more recent times, Andrew Luck has flown the illustrious Stanford alumni flag in the National Football League playing with the Indianapolis Colts as quarterback. With a program so steeped in tradition and success, it certainly brings a challenge to the Rice University Football team, who under unique circumstances, find themselves downunder, to play Stanford in Sydney Australia in the season opener.
There were no signs of intimidation or a sense of desolation at the Owls training session on Wednesday morning in the lead up to Sunday’s game. The boys from Rice put on a superb clinic of solid football practice. There were no punches pulled as each of the offensive, defensive and special teams worked on their craft. Hard hitting drills, slick offensive plays and defensive walk-throughs were conducted like clock-work.
Head coach David Bailiff stood around each group and observed his young charges going through their paces, clapping his hands at a good play and offering words of encouragement. Coach Bailiff and his staff are under no illusions that their team will carry the underdog status into the game on Sunday. At the post-practice press conference, Coach Bailiff said they would be working hard to stop Stanford progressing the ball down the middle of their defensive structures “That’s what we have to do. We have to get them going to the sidelines, so we can track it down.When you watch the Stanford film, they split you, that’s when they are operating efficiently. We have to try to prevent that”.
Of major interest to Rice Owl fans will be the game of starting quarterback Sam Glaesmann. The red shirt freshman will be facing a big Stanford defensive line but the young man from Waco Texas isn’t phased by the challenge. Glaesmann told us that he won’t be distracted by what the Stanford defense will bring “As a young quarterback they are going to try and pressure me.But I have an unbelievable offensive line,they’re all veterans so the pressure is not going to get to me”.
Another part of the offensive plan for Rice will be it’s running game. Head coach Bailiff expressed his delight when pressed about his starting running back Samuel Stewart “Sam was our top running back last year. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry, but he was injured most of the season. When he’s healthy, Sam’s an elite running back at any university. We’ve got to give him the ball, we’ve got to keep him healthy and I expect him to have explosive games every time we play”
It’s going to be a tough ask for Rice to win this game. They will clearly be the underdogs for the Sydney Cup game. The Las Vegas sports books have Stanford as an overwhelming favorite showing +51 on the points spread. The current ranking polls also have the Cardinal at 14th place. The one thing Rice have going in their favour is their belief, a new offensive and defensive set up, a willingness to improve on an average season last year and the chance to play in circumstances that are unique. After observing them practice today, you cant help but admire the spirit of the Owls football team.
Standford vs Rice University
The Sydney Cup Sunday
August 27, 2017 12.pm Allianz Stadium, Moore Park, Sydney Australia
Tickets via Ticketek : HERE
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