"What are you dreaming about? What are you dreaming about? You should be dreaming about whuppin' Texas's ass."
That's Rice head football coach David Bailiff, who is gathered in front of his entire team at midfield of Rice Stadium. He continues to pick players at random and challenges them, with pointed finger, to dream, whether awake or asleep, about knocking off the giants in Austin during the 2011 season opener.
"Don't get distracted. Don't let the heat get to you," continues Bailiff as he snaps his head to the right and repeats his mantra to more of his athletes. Though it's an obvious attempt at motivating an exhausted group, the message seems to sink in with the players that are kneeling in a huddle following a spirited hour-and-a-half scrimmage on Saturday morning.
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If Rice is going to upset the Longhorns, they'll have to do it without starting free safety Travis Bradshaw. Last week in practice, the senior suffered an injury (which remains undisclosed) that caused the former walk-on to quit football. Bradshaw attended Saturday's workout wearing a neck brace.
The Owls will also need to resist the urge to self-destruct in the red zone, which they did multiple times during a mock game that featured multiple turnovers. "I thought we were really sloppy in the red zone. It's been our point of emphasis of eliminating [turnovers], especially when you're down there trying to get points," Bailiff said during post-scrimmage comments.
The fifth-year head coach also said that he would like to forgo the tendency to draw pre-snap infractions. "I thought we had too many penalties that are focus penalties from the defense lining up in the neutral zone. That's just a manner of doing what you're coached to do."
Rice and Texas are slated to square off at 6 p.m. Saturday, September 3, at Austin's Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcast by the Longhorn Network, the ESPN-backed television channel that has caused all sorts of drama in the Big 12 (and the rumored catalyst for Texas A&M's potential move to the Southeastern Conference). The Owls are picked to finish in the middle or the bottom of the West division of Conference USA.