With bowl festivities in full swing, the Rice Owls returned to Aloha Stadium on Sunday for the second of their three full practices leading up the Hawai'i Bowl meeting with Fresno State and head coach David Bailiff said after he was pleased how well the team has balanced the dual missions of the trip: to prepare for Wednesday's game, but also enjoy all that the experience has to offer.
"I am really thrilled with the way things are going with the attention to detail we are getting out here at practice with all the distractions that are available," Bailiff stated. "They're doing a great job.
"The luau last night was spectacular with the native dancers and the fire dances," Bailiff said. "It was a great experience for this team. This morning we got them up at 7 a.m. island time so we went to work a little earlier today. We were really focused today and had 16 sharp periods that had a lot of effort and a lot of enthusiasm. "
Bailiff said the members of the coaching staff were making extra effort to ensure the time on the field was fully focused on football.
"During stretching our staff is walking around giving them game reminders and practice reminders to make sure we are focusing in on the task at hand," Bailiff noted. "We've also told them that as soon as practice is over, it's time to have fun. (After today's practice) our biggest concern was sun screen. We keep reminding them to put on a lot of sun screen before they hit the water park because you don't want to get sunburned and not be able to put your shoulder pads back on."
Quarterback Driphus Jackson echoed his coach's sentiments on the focus the team has shown so far on the trip.
"I think the seniors do a great job of controlling things. One of the hardest things as young men is to decipher when it's time to work," Jackson said. "The seniors and the coaches do a great job of policing us and refocusing us when we get ready to come out here for practice."
Bailiff expressed confidence that the exotic locale and the wide range of events will not deflect the Owls focus on the goal of returning to Houston with the Hawai'i Bowl trophy in hand.
"What we know about this bunch is that when it is time to work, they work and when it's time to have fun, they have fun," Bailiff said. "When you give them those general reminders, they take it pretty seriously. They want to play well in this game. "