The Rice Owls had to endure sudden change of a non-football kind as a series of rain showers swept across Oahu on Monday, causing minor disruptions to some scheduled events , but not to the Owls final full practice as their preparations for Wednesday's Hawai'i Bowl showdown with Fresno State drew to a close.
The morning began with the a joint press conference featuring players from both teams as well as head coaches David Bailiff and Tim DeRuyter being forced under the shelter of cover after the first squall quashed plans for an outdoor setting with Waikiki Beach in the background.
The lines of showers persisted as the Owls returned to Aloha Stadium for their final practice, but Bailiff noted the addition of precipitation was probably an asset to the Owls preparations.
"Right now there is about a 70% chance of rain in the forecast for the game so it was good to get out here and throw and catch wet balls," Bailiff noted. "We made sure the kickers the returners all got some reps in. The thing is it was never a heavy rain, but it was strong enough at times to make the balls slick, so it was good that we did it."
After completing the Owls workout, Bailiff said he thought the team would benefit from practicing in the same stadium where they will meet the Bulldogs in less than 48 hours.
"I really like the fact we are practicing here (at Aloha Stadium)," Bailiff stated. "First off, the locker room is all set up so everyone is comfortable with where everything is. We've been using the clocks to get used to where they are. It's allowed us to work out any of those anxieties you can have in an unfamiliar place. The first couple days it was really sunny, and we took advantage of that to make sure the receivers and kick returners has a chance to know where the angles of the sun are toughest. I hope all those experiences this week can be a little advantage."
Bailiff praised the squad for their continued focus during practice times despite all the activities that are the hallmark of the Hawai'i Bowl.
"It was a great practice. They came out focused once again and we continue to a good job of getting our work in when it has been time to work. There was about one minute early when I thought maybe we would have to get after them a little bit, but the seniors took charge and got things going so we finished strong."
Monday's final practice day also marked the final day of bowl events for the teams. The Owls made their visit to the USS Arizona Memorial, a visit that was delayed for approximately 40 minutes due to mechanical issues with one of the motorized launches that ferry visitors to the site.
After completing the tour, the team gathered for a team photo at the hotel and then attended the Hawai'I Bowl Banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
Tuesday's schedule will be far more typical of the day before a game, with the team participating in a walkthrough at Aloha Stadium before returning to the hotel for meetings and a team dinner.