Another impressive training day for Rice University at the UNSW David Phillips Sports Complex in Sydney Australia. Unlike yesterday, the sunshine disappeared and with it came colder winds. The boys from Rice really did put on a superb football clinic. We watched Cal practice last year for two training sessions during the lead up to the 2016 Sydney Cup game and they did not show as much intensity or energy as have these Owls have shown. All of the players were fully fitted out in helmets and padding as they went through their paces via their respective groups.
Head coach David Bailiff was in good spirits at the 3rd practice session for the Owls. When we asked him about the cold he told us he was enjoying the weather as it was a welcome change to the muggy, humid conditions that are currently being enjoyed by the good folks of Houston. David also told us of the hurricane alert that has been posted for the Gulf area of Texas. His told us his wife had asked him about how to start up a generator just in case she might have to use it in the event of power failures. Man this guy Bailiff has his head around the detail big league!. On a serious note, it’s been a revelation to watch coach Bailiff work. He quietly and methodically walks around each of his teams and observes what they are up to. He’ll discuss with his assistant coaches certain moves or adjustments that need to be made. There is no shouting or rebuttals, just a quiet, but resolute manner on display. Bailiff has repeatedly told us and his players during closing huddles that his Rice team are going to have to execute all of their plays with minimal mistakes if the are to be any chance against the well fancied Stanford.
The Las Vegas sports books and local betting companies all have Stanford as clear favorites for Sunday’s game which is to be expected. They have the prestige and have recruited well during the off season. One thing we have been able to pick up on is the “country club” vibe that Stanford exudes. In researching and scouting for this game, we watched their spring game and it reminded us of a civilized picnic as the fans politely clapped a play or TD. You get the feeling the Stanford boys are typical Californian toffs. We’ve also learnt that the Cardinal camp have been overtly protective of their training sessions which is understandable but C’mon man, this is Sydney Australia and it’s not as if every Aussie journo has a clue about a Spider Y 2 banana play or whatever. From the Owls side of the coin, the brilliantly named Chuck Pool who is the Owls Media Relations guy has been absolutely sensational in providing access to the players and coach. Whilst Chuck has quite rightly been protective about certain things ( in what we can and cant film), on the whole he was worked within the spirit of this game and he is to be applauded at the access we folks here in Australia have been given. We can’t help but not take the side of Rice University for Sunday’s game and we really, really hope that these Owls give Stanford a run for their money.
Whilst the Rice Owls were busy training, it was interesting to see an actual crew of officiating referees observe and participate in the training drills. These guys advise coaching staff if their players are observing the rules and it’s a great discipline to instill into players. Big 12 back judge Joel Wetzel comes to Sydney with some pretty cool credentials. During the regular college season he’s hard at work in the Big 12 Conference which features high profile programs such as Iowa State, TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech, the University of Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. It was great to meet and have a chat with Joel who told us of some remarkable games he’s recently officiated at. He cited the “Bedlam” game the past season (The madness that is the Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State football game) as being a full-on experience however he topped that game with an even bigger posting. In January of this year he was part of the officiating crew for the NCAA championship game between Alabama and Clemson that was played in Tampa, Florida. The game was a gripping contest, and Joel told us the intensity was something else. Joel is also involved with the NFL Combine program that runs during the off season and is the showcase program for aspiring college footballers who seek an NFL career. The more you observe the Sydney Cup the more you learn about the game and you meet some incredible football people. Great stuff Joel!
Ticket sales have been good for Sunday’s game. Many of the behind the goal seating bays have sold out as have upper deck seating. We understand that Rice University will have a larger space on the Western side of the stadium than Stanford as it gets a little tighter on the eastern side. Spoke to some of the communication tech guys who are responsible for coach communications and so far the local nomenclature and electrical standards haven’t gotten too much in the way of logistics. The more you observe this game the more you realize just how much planning has gone into it and it’s a credit to both teams and with TLA Australia on how well they have handled the week.
Rice University starting quarterback Sam Glaesmann continues to impress. He put in another consistent practice session hitting most of his plays right on the money. It’s a tough ask for the red shirt freshman facing up to what will be a formidable Stanford defense. They will obviously go after him and he is fully aware of the impending situation. As he remarked to us yesterday he has a lot of faith in his offensive line which will be working overtime. The key for Glaesmann in the passing game will be to ability to get the ball away fast so that his receivers are able to make a play for the football in tightly defended areas.
Standford vs Rice University
The Sydney Cup
Sunday , August 27, 2017 12.pm Allianz Stadium, Moore Park, Sydney Australia
Tickets via Ticketek : HERE
For all the inside stories and latest news concerning the Rice University Owls downunder,
Go to their informative blog site managed by David Ruth HERE