The Texas Wesleyan Rams will take on the Ottawa University Arizona Spirit on Saturday.

It’s the team’s first game in two weeks, but the Rams did not spend their bye week relaxing, according to offensive coordinator Kyle Cox.

“This is my 9th season coaching college football, and I’ve never seen a team work harder during the bye week,” Cox wrote in an email.  “We wanted to make sure we used the extra time to prepare for Ottawa, but also to go back to the basics a little bit and get everyone back on track. After that grueling non-conference schedule, we had to hit the reset button a little bit and bring everyone back to who we are and what we are trying to accomplish every week.”

The Rams (0-2) are flying to Arizona to avoid a 17-hour bus ride, said head coach Joe Prud’homme.

“We bussed out there last year and 17-hour bus rides will sap you,” Prud’homme wrote in an e-mail.  “Ottawa, on the surface appears to be the best team in the conference. They have a high scoring, balanced offense, fast aggressive defense and potentially the best kicker and punter in the conference. We will have to be at the top of our game to be successful.”

Cox also thinks that the plane ride will help the team to be effective this weekend instead of exhausted from a long bus ride.

“The worst part about road games is always the bus rides,” he wrote. “It’s hard to over-exaggerate what a long bus ride does to your body physically, and it can be mentally draining as well. The plane flight will help us be fresh for the game both mentally and physically, as well as give us an extra day to prepare for the game.”

Rams lost to Houston Baptist University 58-13 on Sept. 7. Kicker Gregory Blaser wrote in an email that he thinks the team has improved due to their experiences so far this season and because of that they feel more prepared to take on the Spirit.

“From the previous two games, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and how we play as a team,” Blaser wrote.  “Our younger guys have especially learned the pace of college football and I think they’re ready as many of them have stepped up and filled roles we needed filled. I know our guys have learned a lot and we’re going to carry that over into conference and put on a show for our Ram fans!”

Play-by-play commentator and 1st and 10 with Coach Prud’homme host Jimmy Christopher wrote in an e-mail that the Rams have learned a lot in the last two games and can only go up from where they currently are.

“In playing Kansas Wesleyan and Houston Baptist,” Christopher wrote, “the Rams learned that consistency is a big factor.  The offense had a fast start last week in Houston, but took a while to get going in Kansas. Hopefully they learned from their mistakes on both sides of the ball and can apply the experience of playing these teams to SAC conference games.”

The Rams faced off against the Spirit (2-0 in 2019) in their last game of the 2018 season, losing by only a touchdown with a final score of 35-29.  Blaser wrote that the team has improved since 2018 and believe that they can close the gap this time.

“This week we will be playing Ottawa University in Arizona and we are all ready for our first conference game,” Blaser wrote.  “We purposely scheduled hard preseason games so we will be extra prepared for conference. Ottawa is a good team but we’re ready to go out and show them we’re not the same team we were last year. The preseason games were intentionally played against teams better than anyone in our conference so we’re ready for anybody we play this season.”

Cox wrote that the team is looking forward to this game and what the team can prove out on the field this weekend.

“Ottawa is going to be another great test for our football team,” he wrote.  “They have a very athletic defense that gives a lot of different looks both in the front seven and in the secondary. They fly to the football and make a lot of plays. I’m excited to see how our players will answer the challenge. The game against Ottawa last year was a great fight back and forth until the clocks hit double zero’s.”

The Rams will face the Ottawa Spirit at nine p.m. on Saturday. To watch the game and for more information, head to ramsports.net

Rams quarterback Keaton Huebner takes a snap during the team’s loss to Houston Baptist on Sept. 7. The Rams return to action on Saturday after taking a bye week. Screenshot by Amanda Roach