Rice's season will be a quarter over after Saturday night/Sunday morning. The Owl's schedule has become a lot more difficult as they take on a surging Hawaii, also on their third game of the season. Here's what we're watching for.
Reinforcements for the back
Rice's secondary has been through the ringer. First Prairie View didn't seem too put off by the Owl defensive efforts. Then last week Houston found another gear and left Rice in the dust in the second half. Hawaii brings similar offensive danger to the Owl secondary. Rice gives up almost 300 yards per game, Hawaii throws for 427 yards in their two contests. California native Cole McDonald is completing 72% of his passes and Nick Rolovich isn't afraid to turn the Warriors offense loose. So it could be another long evening for the Rice secondary.
The growth of Shawn Stankavage
Mike Bloomgren told us that his teams make their biggest improvements between week one and week two. For Shaw Stankavage, Bloomgren nailed it.
Stankavage's numbers, even against a better defensive unit, soared. More importantly, he appeared in great command of the Rice offense. He threw his first ever collegiate touchdown last week, then for good measure threw two more. Now the key is to keep him healthy. At Vanderbilt, Stankavage's career was derailed by various ailments. If he's healthy, he's proving that he can handle running Bloomgren's pro-style approach.
Don't Let the Flight Beat Ya
Rice is keenly aware of what these trips off the mainland can do. The Owls, after all, went to Australia to open the season a year ago, then had to stop over in Fort Worth while Hurricane Harvey stopped ravaging the gulf coast. The Owls headed out a day early to try to adjust to the long flight. At least Rice gets an off week to recover next week.
The Warriors might be the surprise team of 2018 through two weeks. Hawaii ruined Colorado State's opener with a 43-34 win. They dismantled Navy at home, 59-41. They were underdogs in both wins. His 2018 was supposed to be retooling after losing their starting quarterback and four offensive linemen. Instead, McDonald stepped up, and two true freshmen are playing big minutes on the offensive front.
Rolovich is a bit of maverick. He played at Hawaii for June Jones and had adopted a lot of Jones' approach to the game. He's also brought some of his arena league experience as a player to the Warrior offense. They throw often, and they throw long.
To sell his program to both locals and the mainland, he's not averse to a gimmick here and there. He hired an Elvis impersonator for Mountain West Media Day in 2017. He topped that by bringing in a Brittany Spears impersonator this year. He also takes to wearing a tux and top hat to spring practice on occasion. He wants people talking about Hawaii football.
It's worked, and this year they're talking about what his Warriors are doing on the field.