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Words won’t determine the outcome when UAB visits Rice on Saturday evening.

That’s what Rice coach Mike Bloomgren said earlier this week. He wasn’t just talking about words in general, he was talking about his own words, uttered in the moments following the win over UAB at Protective Stadium a year ago and emphasized once again at Conference USA Media Day in July.

Bully was how he described the UAB football program. He bragged about beating the bully after that game last year and said they are going to do it again when he spoke in July. On Tuesday, during his weekly session with the media, he was asked about UAB using the quotes, specifically the one in July, as bulletin board material.

“Maybe so, but they were the bully.” Bloomgren said. “Our first year here in 2018, we couldn’t move the ball, seemingly, an inch. And they were an outstanding team in 2018. They were the standard, they were the one we pointed to. They were the bully.”

He was just getting started.

“The facts are, we went up there last year and we won the game and put some physical stuff on film as well,” Bloomgren said. “They can put up whatever quotes they want. They’ve got to come down here to Houston, they’ve got to play these guys. These guys are a physical football team, prepare incredibly well. I have no doubt this will be a physical football game. I don’t think any words in the locker room are going to win or lose this game.”

For the record, or more accurately on the record, there’s been little talk about the quote from UAB head coach Bryant Vincent or Blazer players and assistant coaches in meetings with the media this week. Behind the scenes, though, that is certainly an obvious topic of discussion. Perhaps a hint of that comes in the lobby of the UAB football building, where a tape of last year’s TV broadcast of the 30-24 Rice victory over the Blazers. The official UAB Football Twitter account quoted a tweet with Bloomgren’s media day quote with the comment, “It’s Rice week. Enough said.”

Vincent was asked about balancing emotion and preparation headed into the team’s first meeting since that afternoon.

“I think the biggest thing is we understand that this season is a journey,” Vincent said. “We’re just now beginning conference play. We’ve got now, with our open week behind us last week, we know we’ve got nine straight games. At UAB we’re a little bit different. Our goal here is to play for a conference championship, to win a conference championship. Now we start on the road at a team that’s probably the deepest Rice team that we’ve seen, probably the most athletic Rice team we’ve seen up to this point. You see a lot of guys on that field on offense, defense, and special teams that really have been playing for three years, going on four. We know we’ve got our hands full. We’ve got to go on the road. We’re opening conference play in a night game at Rice. It’s an opportunity this team is looking forward to and we’re excited about.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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