Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections! 12/31/09

I sit here and reflect on what has just happened over the last 6 months. I have been on one of the wildest rides of my life and I got to continue my passion for college football through his eyes! We knew that Matt was very self driven and passionate about achieving his first year goals, but I had no idea he would achieve them the way he did. I am so proud of his work ethic and dedication to his team. I know Matt will work even harder in the off season and will get bigger and stronger. Mental toughness and the desire to perfect his craft will keep Matt grounded and focused on the teams goals as well as his personal goals. One of my all time favorite business quotes is what Matt is doing in his football career and what I want to do in my business career! “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson My reflections will be highlights on the good, the bad, the ugly and the many people that we are so thankful for. Before I begin I have to thank Chris Boniol, Matt Stover and Josh Scobee for their support and constant communication with Matt. Matt's stats for the season were quite impressive in my mind for a true freshman swimming in shark infested waters. Matt ended the season 12 of 16 for field goals with only one miss less than 50 yards and he was 42 of 43 on PAT's. He was the leading scorer on the team with 78 points. His kickoff average of 57 yards is a little misleading when you play a hit the numbers game and you have some that go out of bounds. I am not a fan of this type of kicking, but what do I know! I am just a College Football Dad and a Travel Specialist! I think that there are situations where a pooch kick is the right thing to do, but not as a common theme. I hope CD and CT work on kicking it deep during the off season and CH works on maximizing his leg muscle. I went back and looked at all of Matt's kicks and not one kick was completely blocked the entire season. There were a couple of balls that got tipped, but still went through the up rights. I think special props needs to be given to the special teams O-line and the trust and timing with Thomas, Cade and Matt. That is an awesome stat that most people do not look at. I want to take time to thank those who have made an impact on me during my first season as a Bulldog. I have to start with my wife for her strength and courage during the season along with my oldest son for his extreme support for his younger brother. I want to give a very special thanks to Thomas Graham for taking Matt under is wings and being the most ultimate mentor for Matt that we could have ever asked for. I have to thank all of our immediate family, close friends and friends of family for traveling many thousands of miles in support of Matt and the Bulldogs both home and away. I have met or had email communication with so many awesome people during my freshman year. (Tom Morris, Philip Parker, Dusty McGehee, Rusty Anding, Adam McGuirt, Ross Harper, Don Garland, the La Tech Football staff and Ross aka Marketdawg) I thank you for all of your support and welcoming us to the Bulldog family. I have to thank Jonathan Ford and the BleedTechBlue Radio team. Fantasy Cruise & Travel was a sponsor this year and I will do it again next year. I also have to thank Matt’s original roommates; Josh (Summer Camp), Doak, Matt and Vince. These young men will be very successful at La Tech and they are just good people. Last but not least I have to thank Dan “The Equipment Man” Matthiesen. Dan and Matt are currently roommates and they keep each other in check. Dan is an awesome person and will keep Matt in line! I am not sure if this should be the Nelly Awards or just reflections of the season, but here we go. I am going to start with the ugly. The ugly for the season were the kickoffs that went out of bounds and the missed 38 yard field goal at Nevada. Directional kicking to a number on opposite sides of the field will cause balls to go places they should not when you do not warm up this way. I hope we can kick the ball deep next year and yes I understand that the coverage team was banged up this year and the return personnel will determine where CD wants the ball kicked, but kick it deep! The bad for the season for me was the missed PAT at the Idaho game, the missed 58 yard field goal at the Hawaii game and the missed 52 yarder against San Jose St. Matt had missed one PAT during his high school career and now one for his college career. I feel like Matt will make several 50 plus yarder's during his college career, but I thought 58 yards might of been a stretch this early in his career. With this being said I am a huge fan of CD and how he not only coaches, but he teaches life’s lessons. How these young men react to adverse situations will help them be prepared for what life throws at them. Now for the good! The 46 yard field goal in his first college game at Auburn, the 3 field goals against LSU, the surprise on sides kick that he recovered against Boise St and his only tackle in the San Jose State game. I will also include the missed 56 yard field goal against Idaho. I was very proud of the effort in this game winning kick that had the distance, but missed to the left. It was not about the miss, but that with the game on the line that good contact was made and it had a chance! The other made field goals and PAT's were all awesome in how they were made, but this is what his craft is and should be made to ensure your starting position and a possible future career. I saved the Double Drawer’s Award for Mr. Tom Morris for taking pictures of the away games that I did not attend. I got to watch these games on TV or listened over the internet. This was one of the hardest things mentally I have ever gone through and thank goodness that I had extra pairs of drawers! I am looking for care packages for next year! Seriously a very special thanks to Tom Morris for letting me use some of his pictures for my blog for the away games I did not attend. Even though the team did not have a winning season this year they were in all of the games during the second half of the season. La Tech would end up at 4 - 8 for the season. With the playing time of so many freshmen and more home games I feel like the 2010 season will be a winning one and the Bulldogs will be bowling again. It has been a blast for me this season to take my thoughts and share my passion through him. I appreciate all of those who have followed my journey. I write from my heart and what my feelings are at that moment. I will continue to write about Matt and the football process up to when spring practice starts on a limited basis. May your New Year be filled with Sunny Smiles, Sandy Dreams and Travel your Way! Until our paths cross again, have a blessed New Year! College Football Dad!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

San Jose St. 12/5/09

Oh no it is here! I have been dreading this week. It will be our last game of the season. Am I disappointed? You bet I am! Am I proud of this team? You bet I am! If we can beat San Jose St, then the seniors will go out with a win. I don't know too much about San Jose St, so let’s take a look. A Spartan is a group of elite warriors from ancient Greece, located on the island province of Sparta. Spartan warriors are trained from infancy to be nothing but soldiers. They are to be perfect in every respect and aspect of war, and nothing else. Weaklings perish soon after birth; youth are taught to thieve and terrorize the slave class to harden them; young men are taught to nothing unless it has something to do with the arts of war - Even music and dance are there only to help keep step when marching and obeying orders. The result is a man who thinks nothing of danger, expects to win, and creates a sense of dread in his opponents. If all of this is true then, San Jose St has not lived up to their definition. Ok, that is enough about a fake Spartan! The travel business has been a little up and down. Some last minute holiday travel, spring break and the 2010 summer are the hot topics of the week. Who knows maybe one day the La Tech Alumni association might want to put together a group cruise or something. I bet that would be a hoot! I guess it is time to jump right in the middle of the last week of football for the Bulldogs. Matt had a full week to rest his ankle during Thanksgiving and would test it on Monday. His practices went well. His field goals were spot on. They broke down file on the San Jose St kick return team. Coach was working on the number hitting thing again. I just wish they would let him kick the ball. What difference is it going to make? His critics already think he can only kickoff to the 25! If you ask me those people do not know crap when it comes to kicking a football. They just want a line drive into the end zone that looks like a wounded duck. It’s not going to happen! The young man only kicks where the Coaches tell him to kick. Oh, I forgot, wounded ducks only fall out of the sky in McKinney, Texas. Ok enough on the venting! I just wanted to see if I could get some feathers ruffled! HaHa! Matt said the rest of the week went well. They really wanted to send the seniors out with a victory and that was the only thing on Matt’s mind. We were going to have a lot of family and friends attend the game. My sister and her family would be attending their first game. With the game starting at 1:00PM we would arrive at the stadium around 9:30AM. Our tailgate would be a liquid tailgate and it would consist of beverages for all ages. We met the bus at 11:00AM as the team drove in from Monroe. Matt looked sharp as he got off the bus. Mom & Dad got a big old hug and off he went. We head back to the suburban for a few more cold ones. We made our way into the stadium around 12:15PM. We saw Matt warm up for a few minutes, but we really wanted to be there to applaud the seniors. It was their day and time for them to shine. Gentlemen good luck to your future and lot's of success to whatever life brings you. I have to give a very special shout out to Thomas Graham. He has taken Matt under his wings and shown him the ropes in college football. I know Matt has the utmost respect for him and Janet and I could not have asked for a better mentor than Thomas. Not only is Thomas a great deep snapper, he is a great person and he will be missed on this team. Game time is here, so let the butt kicking begin. We started off a little rough as San Jose St would score first and at the end of the first quarter the score would be tied 14 - 14. This is not the start that we need. I need to give a special shout out to Matt for making his first touchdown saving tackle. It looked like a take down in a calf scamble. Awesome tackle Matt! Something has got to kick in real quick! Wow did we kick it into gear. We score 31 points in the second quarter. Matt got to attempt a 53 yard field goal and he toed it missing it left. Matt would end the 2nd quarter with a 40 yard field goal. Are you kidding me? Where has then type of explosion been all year? San Jose St would score on a 80 yard pass and Matt would make a 32 yard field goal as the 3rd quarter comes to an end with the score 48 - 20. San Jose St would drive mid way through the 4th quarter, but oops they throw an interception at the six and we return it 96 yards for a touchdown. The final horn sounds and the Bulldogs run away with this one 55 - 20. Matt was good on all of his PAT's and ended up with 13 points for the day. What a way to send the seniors out with a victory. We met Matt up by the locker room after the game. He hates taking photos but with new family in attendance more pictures need to be taken. It was pretty cool when his cousin came up with a mini helmet and asked Matt for his autograph. It really was classic! We were very proud of Matt's efforts in this game as well as the whole team. We are very sad because the season is over and we are not bowling, but on the other hand we are excited Matt will get to join us on the cruise we are taking to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary! Our evening would end with a family meal at the Log Cabin. Matt was going to hang with his older brother Saturday night and we would meet up with them Sunday morning for breakfast before we head back to Dallas and then myself to San Antonio. The Caribbean was now in our future! What a season it has been. We have met some fantastic people this year. Everyone we have met has been so kind to our family and we truly appreciate your open arms. We really appreciate everyone’s support during the season and look forward to meeting many more of you in the upcoming seasons! I will be writing an overview of the season before the end of the year. My goal is to write every 2 to 3 weeks on Matt's football happenings leading up to the spring game. I really appreciate those of you who have followed my blog and I hope I have not offended anyone. I write from the heart and apologize if I stepped on someone's toes. I want to give a special shout out to Mr. Tom Morris for allowing me to use his pictures for the games I did not attend. Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fresno St 10/21/09

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving! My motto is that it is only one day and you should be able to cheat, go back for seconds, lie on the couch, watch some football and go back for more. It works for me! Matt was able to make it home for a couple of days thanks to Dan "The Equipment Man" Matthiesen. Dan hauled Matt to Dallas for a hand off to Janet's Uncle David who brought Matt down on Thanksgiving Day. Teamwork at it's best! It was really great spending some time with him and our oldest son Tyler. I tried to keep his calorie intake up so he could maintain his game weight. Matt's Thanksgiving meal consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, pumpkin pie and buttermilk pie. Matt is a very picky eater as there were many other items to choose from. All kidding aside, he pigged out this weekend. I delayed myself in writing about Fresno St. in honor of the bye week. If La Tech can have a bye week then College Football Dad can have a bye week! HaHa! My research on this week’s opponent will be a little strange since their mascot is also a bulldog. Who was first to have this mascot? In 1901, La Tech organized a football team and decided the team needed not only school colors, but a mascot. A unanimous decision was reached as the bulldog, the first hero of Tech, was given the honor. You need to read the full story about the "Legend of the Bulldog" and the "Spirit of 1988" It was on November 21, 1921, that the Morning Republican first referred to Fresno State as the "Bulldogs". The full story can be read here at "FSU History" Based on all of this, we were the first bulldog and should be the only bulldog in the WAC. What in the heck is this green "V" on their helmets? When Pat Hill became Fresno State's head coach prior to the 1997 season, he wanted to reinvigorate San Joaquin Valley pride in the Bulldogs. Because Fresno State is the only Division I football program in the Valley, a 250-mile stretch in California's midsection from Bakersfield to Modesto, Hill wanted to make the Bulldogs the "Green Bay Packers of college football." This representation of the San Joaquin Valley is displayed in the form of a green "V" on the back of the Bulldogs' helmets. The green in the "V" is a symbol to the agricultural community of the Central Valley. I guess you do whatever it takes, but in my book the green "V" is pretty goofy looking! Ok, that is enough research. My Biz week started off with a quick trip to Ft Lauderdale for my company’s national convention and a quick visit to the "Oasis of the Seas". OMG, this cruise ship not only is the world's largest, but the newest to hit the Caribbean. You can even zip line from one end of the ship to the other. Now that is just crazy. I want my football! Enough of this other stuff, let’s move on. Sunday started off with the stretch and stride and film breakdown. Matt said the film breakdown went ok and Coach Dooley will continue to push him and the special teams until they are perfect. In my opinion, even though you make three field goals at LSU and hit your numbers for some of your kickoffs, you win as a team, you lose as a team and there is always something that you can do better. I thought it was pretty funny when Matt told me that Thomas had asked Coach Dooley if they could practice kicks somewhere else besides the practice field and Coach Dooley said why in the heck would we change now when you have the #2 field goal kicker in the WAC? I have not really paid attention to the practice field, but I guess it has a pretty severe crown on it. They worked on the RR short and deep a lot during the week. Friday has arrived and the team will depart from Monroe and head to the valley of California. I spoke to Matt after they arrived at the team hotel and he said that Fresno had to be the graffiti capital of the world, along with the largest population of El Caminos he had ever seen. They had gone through their walk thru at a Junior College in the vicinity and the team was pretty excited about their chances against Fresno. Saturday was upon us and I was feeling pretty good about this game. I hate when the game is not on TV and there is no Internet stream of the game. I did find a station out of Fresno to listen to the game. Game time has arrived and I have no clue what his demeanor is. We receive the kickoff and just like that it is 7 - 0. This is cool! Fresno St scores two quick touchdowns and we once again with Mr. Dennis Morris and the first quarter come to an end with the score 14 - 14. I was not feeling good about Matt's first two kickoffs. The first one went out of bounds and from what I could tell from the announcers was the second one was sort of a low line drive. What sort of scheme are we doing this week? Both teams score another touchdown and we go into the half tied at 21. Mr. Dennis Morris has got to be one of the best tight ends in college football. Fresno St gets a field goal and we score another touchdown in the 3rd quarter making the score 28 - 24 as we start the 4th quarter. I am not sure that Matt is having a good kickoff showing this week. I just wish I could see them instead if listing to them. Fresno St would kick two more field goals in the fourth with one of them being a 35 yard game winner with no time on the clock. Fresno St. would win 30 - 28. I absolutely hate losing, but I am very proud of our team’s performance. The last 5 games we have had a chance and that is all I can ask for. We came so close in this one. I knew if Matt were to call that he was going to be pissed. Sure enough he called and yep, he was pissed. The whole team was very upset with this loss. During our conversation Matt said he rolled his ankle during warm-ups and only kicked off twice. WTH? The radio I was listening to kept saying that Nelson was kicking off during the whole game. I guess during warm-ups with his kickoffs that he rolled his plant foot ankle. It was pretty swollen and he thought he could work his way through it. I guess he never told anyone until he came off the field after the second kickoff and Coach Dooley wanted to know what was going on. Matt told him what had happened and Coach Dooley told him that you have got to let me know these things. I still would of let you kicked, but tell me about these things. Matt felt horrible as he thought he could just work through the pain. He told Coach that he could do PAT's and field goals, but would need to get his ankle taped. I had no clue that he was hurt, much less that he was not kicking off after the second kickoff. The Fresno announcers must not have known either. He knew that Coach Dooley was going to tear him a new one on the plane ride home and in their meetings. I told him that I was proud of him and the team and to be proud of this team and where it is headed. This will be another one of those lessons learned and he will grow stronger from it. As in life, business and football, communication is key and even as strong willed as Matt is he understands this. Sunday afternoon they started treatment on is ankle and with the bye week they tell him he will be 100% for the game against San Jose St. Matt said that in his meeting with Coach Dooley that he was a little pissed that he did not tell him before the game about his ankle. I think Matt has a full understanding of Coach Dooley’s expectations pertaining to an injury. This week’s practice consisted of fine tuning some things along with field goals. The team gets to leave for home to celebrate Thanksgiving Wednesday afternoon and has to report to a team meeting and dinner at 4:00 Sunday. San Jose St. is on the horizon and we will have a heard of family attending the game. Actually my sister and her family will be attending their first game along with family members who have been to several games prior. With this being a 1:00 CST kickoff this will probably only be a liquid tailgate and then dinner afterwards at the Log Cabin. I think I know what a Spartan is and will research it later this week. All I know is that I want us to finish strong and kick some Spartan butt! I hope everyone has a good week and I look forward to seeing the stands full as we send off our awesome seniors with a bulldog victory! If you want to buy some pictures of your favorite kicker check out some of the photos that Mr. Tom Morris took at the game by visiting LaTechSportsPix. There are some pretty incredible shots. Also don’t forget to listen to my friends at BleedTechBlue Radio every Tuesday night. They might be on Monday night this week due to a basketball game so you will need to check. It should be a great show as always. Good luck Bulldogs as you take on the Spartans on our field. Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LSU 11/14/09

It's finally here! The big game in Red Stick against the Tiggers is now here upon us! I originally was going to the game, but unforeseen circumstances kept me from attending. I had two things to research this week. I need to find out what the real definition of a Tigger is and what did Red Stick mean. It looks like to me a Tigger is a fictional tiger like character introduced in the book, "The House at Pooh Corner". Tigger never refers to himself as a tiger, just as a "Tigger". When Tigger introduces himself, he often says the proper way to spell his name is: "T-I-double-guh-err (T,i,gg,er), which spells Tigger." There you have it, a LSU Tigger. What intrigues me even more is why in the heck is Baton Rouge called Red Stick? According to legend, Baton Rouge’s name came from a notation on a map used by French explorer Pierre le Moyne, sieur d’Iberville, and his brother, Jean Baptiste le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, who led an expedition up the Mississippi River in 1699. Iberville spotted a tall cypress pole smeared with animals’ blood, which apparently marked the dividing line between the hunting grounds of the Bayou Goula and Houmas Native American tribes who shared this area. When Iberville jotted “le b√Ęton rouge” (French for “red stick”) on his map, little did he know that he had named what would become Louisiana’s capital city. Wow that is all a mouthful. Ok, that is enough about the tggers and Tiggerville! Holiday travel and interest for Spring Break travel were in the forefront for the travel business. Right now cruise travel is ridiculously crazy with some of these deals from the cruise lines. Matt’s week would start off the same with stretch and stride and film breakdown. The crazy surprise on sides was still a topic at start the week. This week as they prepare for the tiggers they are working on several different kickoffs as placement would be key to keep the ball away from Holliday. Ball placement would be RR or RL and could be anywhere from the 30 to the 25 depending on who was where. It seems like to me that kicking to all of these different spots is a very difficult task with no warm ups for it. I guess it would be like hitting your driver on the driving range for warm-ups and then game time comes and they want you to pull your wedge out and use it for all 18 holes. How do you develop consistency? I know our kick coverage team is the walking wounded, but let’s kick the ball deep sometimes and quit playing keep away. Enough of my venting for now! I cannot do anything about it except watch. CD sure does like to keep the opposing teams and myself guessing as to where and how deep he is going to kick the ball. Enough venting! Just move on! I talked to Matt Friday around noon and they were getting ready to load the bus and head to tigger town. His morning had started off with is bi-weekly ice bath and he felt good. He said they arrived at the hotel around 5:30 and that the ULM basketball team was staying at the same hotel. After a team dinner the team’s bus was police escorted to the movie theater and when they returned they were police escorted back to the hotel where the police had move out of the way some elderly tigger fans who were blocking the entrance chanting the infamous words “Tigger Bait” That is just bizarre that the team gets stalked at 10:00PM at the hotel the night before the game. Game day is here and my wife is headed back from Dallas for a weekend visit. This will be the first time we have watched the game together without actually being at the game. I am not sure what to expect. Does she have superstitions like I have and what are they? Will I end up in the kitchen or will I stay in my chair? Game time is here and the tiggers will defer and kickoff to start the game. The team looks like they are jacked up for this game. The tiggers would score first with a field goal. La Tech would march back down the field and Matt kicked a 30 yard field goal. I really wish I could have gone to the game as it is easier for me to watch. I had to grab my red wine and watch for a while from the kitchen. The tiggers would score a TD making the score 10 to 3. We are actually hanging with them better than I had thought. La Tech would move down the field setting up a 33 yard field goal. It was good, but got tipped at the line and knuckle balled across making the score 10 to 6. We would get the ball back with enough time to maybe go into the half with the lead. We get the ball to the 3 yard line, it’s 4th down and a few seconds on the clock. I love the call as they run the Jump play and Daniel fakes the run, jumps in the air and shot puts the ball in the air to Dennis and we SCORE! Are you kidding me? This will be another ESPN top 10 play and we are going into the half with a lead over the tiggers. Tigger nation has to be in a state of shock. Wow! The tiggers would score two touchdowns and make the score 24 to 13. We still had a chance. La Tech would drive the ball down and setup a 36 yard field goal with less than a minute to go. I know the on sides is coming. I saw Matt place the ball in front of the tee so I knew it was on. The on side was executed, it had great height and we had a chance to come down with it but the tiggers recovered. Game over as we lose 24 to 16. I am never OK with a loss, but I was impressed with this team. They had a chance to beat another top 10 team and they never gave up. I cannot believe that Matt scored 10 points at LSU! It’s like I am in another one of my College Football dreams again. Matt called before they boarded the bus for the return trip to Ruston. As usual he was disappointed with the loss but the experience to kick in front of 90K people was incredible. He was ok with his kicks and hit CD’s numbers and hashes except for one that was a half moon that he did not get under the ball enough. He knew that CD and film would be brutal on that one. The team would hit Ruston a little after 2AM. It would be stretch and stride at 3:30 on Sunday and film breakdown later that afternoon. It is time to get ready for the other Bulldogs. I have really been impressed with the team over the last four games. I hate to lose, but I think with the amount of freshman being played that we are laying a good foundation for next year. It is off to Fresno St to play the little Bulldogs. I hope the team that has played the last 4 games is the team we hit the field with. I would love nothing more than to kick their Bulldog butt. If you want some pictures of your favorite kicker check out some of the photos that Mr. Morris took at the game by visiting LaTechSportsPix. There are some pretty incredible shots. Also don’t forget to listen to my friends at BleedTechBlue Radio every Tuesday night. It should be a great show as always. Good luck Bulldogs as you make your way into puppy dog land. Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boise St 11/06/09

The Big Game week was upon us. It's going to be a Bronco Bustin,' all by your lonesome for the world to see ESPN2 prime time game. It is amazing to me the exposure that this team has gotten this year. I sure would love to pull off the upset this week. I know a bronco is a horse that has not been broken yet and it sounds like to me that it is time for the breakin' to commence! This will be a tough game to win and we will have to bring our home team out with their A game to pull this one off. Holiday travel and Spring Break travel have been the hot information requests this week. There are still great deals everywhere. I talked to Matt several times this week. He would be moving this week into another apartment with Dan "the equipment man" Matthiesen. I heard the view is pretty nice as it looks into the outfield of the baseball stadium. Practice was going well and some new kicking schemes were being worked on. Oh no! More kicking schemes! I am not really sure I understand why the kicking game has to have its own playbook. I know that every game brings on new challenges as to where you have to place the ball depending on where the speedsters are, but more schemes. I guess our coverage team is banged up and we must be playing some new guys on special teams. Chris Boniol called Matt on Tuesday and told him that he was not going to be able to make the game. They talked for a while and Chris reminded him that you always need to be one for one! Matt understands this and it is his driving force. Matt called Wednesday night and said that Thomas Graham was going to be on Coach Dooley’s show at the Dawghouse and that he wanted both Matt and Cade to be there with him. I thought that was very cool. Matt said he had a blast! Thomas has been a great mentor for Matt and we appreciate him being there for Matt. This would be my first attempt at tailgating with a small smoker and a grill. Some of my friends where my wife works have been giving me a hard time for my pimento cheese tea party tailgates. I have to redeem myself before too many bad rumors get started. I started my trip Thursday morning with an early departure from Dallas. My parents (John and Carol) were visiting my sister in Houston and would meet me in Shreveport for a quick pit stop. I had not met Ross (MarketDawg) yet, but I was heading to Maxwell's Market to pick up some of his famous sausage and a few other, much needed supplies. I must tell you that I was very impressed with his place. I am a foodie and I was super jealous of his place. There are so many options to choose from. If you have not been, you need to check it out. I will be back for sure. Thanks Ross for taking the time to visit with us. We had arrived Ruston around 12:30 and went directly to the field house to meet Matt for about 10 minutes. He was in good spirits and he said the team was pumped and could not wait for Friday night. He said that Josh Scobee had told him to have a good game and tell yourself to stay focused on every kick. I am more impressed with the Bulldog alumni every week. I know this is a very small world, but Johnny Huntsman (Owner of Johnny's Pizza) went to school with my parents in Iowa. He played football and my dad played baseball at Graceland College. Mr. Huntsman even was in my parents wedding. They spent a ton of time at this pizza joint called the Pizza Shack. The original recipes for Johnny’s Pizza came from this place and now look where it has gone. Our Thursday afternoon would consist of meeting Mr. Huntsman and his wife for an awesome pizza spread at his new place in West Monroe. The "Sweep the Kitchen" was incredible. They drove us around Monroe for a while and then we went to his home. It had been almost 40 plus years since they have seen each other. Their home is incredible and his wife served us the most amazing homemade sweet potato pie. I am still waiting for the recipe. Since this was my first attempt at a cooking tailgate, we set the tent up and dropped off the smoker and the grill. Wow, his has been a long day, and my red wine is calling my name. Friday morning arrives before I even knew it. We made a quick breakfast stop at the Waffle House and hit the tailgate spot at 7:45AM. I must be crazy for starting this early, but you might as well take full advantage of this amazing day. I had a lot of people to feed. My wife and her Aunt and Uncle (David & Barbara) were driving over from Dallas. My parents had some friends (Tom and Sherry) driving over from Dallas, my oldest son (Tyler) and his friends (Arnell and Anthony) were driving up from Austin after a Thursday night Third Eye Blind concert. I had the baby backs on the smoker at 8:30 and the tailgate area was all setup awaiting our guests. I cracked my first beer (Abita Pecan Harvest) at 8:45. Is it game time yet? As the morning went along I got to meet Adam McGuirt with LTAC and I spent some time with Mr. Ross Harper (TechsasDawg) from San Benito, TX. He is quite an amazing person and an avid supporter of the Bulldogs. He attends every home game and drives 644 miles each way. Mr. Harper came back later that afternoon and sampled some of the food and is more than welcome any time. We had way too much food. We had baby backs, black oak smoked sausage and andouille sausage from Maxwell's Market, pulled pork and all of these amazing sides and appetizers. The beer and wine was flowing and before we knew it 4:45 had arrived. This was our queue to head to the field house and watch the team get off the bus. Matt looked good and gave his mom a big hug as he headed into the locker room. Janet needs to see Matt before the game. This is how she knows what his state of mind is. After some clean up it is time to head into the stadium and watch warm-ups. This will be the second time that we sit on the lower level, back row right next to the tuba players. The band is so incredible and they keep you rocking during the game. Matt's warm-ups look good, but I think he is kicking too much. I have never seen both kickers warm up in the same direction before. It was like they were having a competition or something. I am pumped and I am ready for this to get started. Boise St will kick off first. After a field goal from Boise we score a TD for a 7 - 3 lead. The first quarter ends with Boise up 13 - 7 and at half we are down 27 -7. I am extremely disappointed, but when you are playing top 5 BCS team should I be? Heck yes! We are better than this. The third quarter shows some promise and we score quickly with an interception for a touchdown. We score again and it is 30 - 21. We are in a long TV time out and I see Matt and Coach Dooley talking. I have a feeling that something is going to happen that is not normal. I watch Matt go through his motions and nothing looks different. I take pictures of all of Matt’s kicks at the games I attend. This one would not be any different as I am focused on the tee and the next thing I know is Matt is lying on the ground with #36 from Boise on top of him. What in the heck just happened? Matt has just pulled off the famous bunt kick and recovered the ball. Are you kidding me? I only wore one pair of drawers and almost had a serious problem. I was numb as to what had just happened. I had people high fiving and hugging all around me. My phone was going off and I forgot I needed to take pictures on the side lines as this could be the turning point we needed. I am still in shock! What a perfectly executed play. This set up the most incredible touchdown catch I have ever seen. Ross threw the ball behind Dennis Morris against the All American Kyle Wilson and he went over him and pulled the ball off of his back and up and we score. I kid you not this catch will be all over the replays for some time to come. Oh my! Can we actually do this? The score is 28 -30. Maybe Matt can redeem himself and kick the winning field goal. Calm down, this game still has a long ways to go. Boise scores 2 TD's and we score at the end and lose 35 - 45 to the #5 team in the nation. Am I upset? You bet I am! We played our 2nd half butts off and showed me that this team has no quit in it and our coaching staff has no quitting in them. We have so many out with injuries. I am very proud of this team and I am very proud to be a Bulldog. We met with Matt for a few minutes after the game. He said he was disappointed with the loss, but was super pumped with the team’s intensity on the sidelines and on the field. I asked him about the bunt kick and he said if it had gone one more yard that he would have been jacked up. He said as he was lying on the ball and then he felt someone tug on his pads trying to lift him up. Matt said he squeezed tight on the ball not knowing who was lifting him up and it was Dustin Mitchell. Dustin said "Matt, it is me, and the play is over, get up." I thought that was funny as heck! We normally go out after the game to get something to eat, but we have won those games and Matt said he did not deserve it unless they won. It had been a long day and I was ok with his decision. I needed a red wind night cap! I awoke early and needed to take care of some travel biz stuff and got to meet Mr. & Mrs. Don Garland (TechDAG) at the Fairfield Inn. It was so cool to get to talk to them and meet some more avid Bulldogs. Matt agreed to meet us at the field house in the morning and show some friends of my parents the field and the hall of fame. Many of the family had brought Matt care packages and needed to take them to his new place. Matt had to be at film at 11:30 and my parents took off back to Florida. We decided to wait for Matt to finish film and go to the Dawghouse for lunch before we headed back to Dallas. Matt arrived around 1:00 and the place was packed. We finally got a table and Matt was ready for a day off. He hated the loss, but they needed to regroup for LSU. He said Coach Dooley graded him pretty tough for his performance Friday night. When you have a number to hit along with a different side on each kick and you miss it by a couple of yards the teacher is going to be pissed. It was pooch kick all night and those things are very tough to execute when you cannot warm-up with them in my opinion. I am very proud of Matt and this team. They could have folded, but came back and made it one heck of a game. I am very proud to be a La Tech Bulldog. LSU is on the horizon. What a journey and game that will be. Even though we are not bowl eligible this year as of yet, I am super excited about our future. LSU will be here before we know it. I hope our home team with an A game shows up for this one. I would love nothing more than to kick a little pussy cat rear end. When you have time, check out some of the photos that Mr. Morris took at the game by visiting LaTechSportsPix. Also don’t forget to listen to BleedTechBlue Radio on Tuesday night. It should be a great show. There are some pretty incredible shots. Good luck Bulldogs as you make your way into kitty cat land. Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Idaho 10/31/09

The week has finally arrived. Idaho is up next! It's a Halloween night in the Kibble & Bits dome! What a crazy looking dome on top of a high school stadium. I did some research on what the heck a Vandal is. The research path first led me to the Vandals were a tribe in ancient Europe. Nope I was wrong, Idaho’s student-athletes go by a name earned nearly a century ago by a basketball team coached by Hec Edmundson, whose teams played defense with such intensity and ferocity that sports writers said they “vandalized” their opponents. The mark made by that 1917 team went far deeper than wins and losses on the court. In 1917, Harry Lloyd “Jazz” McCarty – a writer for the student newspaper, the Argonaut – subtly tagged the team with a new nickname in a pregame write-up: “The opening game with Whitman will mark a new epoch in Idaho basketball history, for the present gang of ‘Vandals’ have the best material that has ever carried the ‘I’ into action.” McCarty’s indirect suggestion stuck. By 1921, McCarty and Edward Maslin Hulme, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, succeeded in their push to have Vandals officially adopted as the nickname for Idaho teams. That’s enough with the history lesson. I wonder if we can turn the corner and get a road victory. I know we are capable, but Saturday will tell us for sure. The travel business had its highs and lows this week. Last minute travel and 2010 spring break questions were the main topics for the week. Matt and I talked every day this week. Practice and weights had gone well. They had worked on several different kicking schemes during the week. I understand that the game dictates where the ball is kicked to and you practice all 5 possibilities of that during the week, but when you warm up for a game you only execute one scheme. I know that you don't want to give the opposing team any indicators, but in my mind it sure makes it difficult to get you leg warm for the other possible 4 motions. Classes have gone well this week and the grades continue to rise. Matt said they were going to leave earlier on this trip. I am not sure exactly what time they left, but I did receive a text from Matt at 2:00 CST that they had landed in Lewiston, ID. He said it was about an hour to the Kibble & Bits Dome and it was about 45 degrees. They were going directly from the airport to the field for their walk thru. I spoke to Matt late Friday evening and the team was in good spirits and most were watching the West Virginia game. He said when they left the field that there were people walking around with gas masks. He said that was pretty strange. He said the goal post is bolted from the wall and is held in position from the ceiling. There is no middle bottom post. Now that is just weird! Matt loves mashed potatoes with cream gravy and he thought the mashed potatoes would be awesome in Idaho. He said wrong! The mashed potatoes at the team dinner were yellow and sweet. They were terrible! Saturday could not get here soon enough! I will be watching the game alone again. I decided this week I was going to go back to what worked and will have my own Red Out! I got my red shirt from the Hawaii game, two pair of red drawers that I put on backwards (TMI) and I found a pair of my wife’s red socks and there I was. All ready for the game. I know I am crazy, but I need some combination of clothing to work. My adult beverage was going to be red wine and my wangs were marinating in my Louisiana hot sauce mixture. Besides wearing red shorts I was about of red as I could get. Game time was here and I was already into a couple of glasses of red wine. I would start watching the game on ESPN 360 and at 4:30 the game would be on Altitude 2 on DIRECTV. The first kickoff is on the way and oh no, they run it back for a touchdown. This is not the start that I expected. Looks like I am going to have to move to the kitchen and watch from there. The first quarter comes to an end and we are up 21 - 7. It looks like the kitchen is where I will stay, plus I am close to my refills of red wine. Where has this team been? Idaho scored early in the 2nd and we would score at the 6:19 mark in the 2nd quarter making it a 28 - 14 lead. I am feeling really good right now. Idaho scored in the 3rd making it 28 - 21 La Tech. We came back early in the 4th and scored and then something happened that has not happened all season. Matt missed a PAT. I wonder what happened. How can I fix this? Out of 141 PAT's from high school until now, this is only the 3rd PAT he has ever missed. Calm down and breathe. I am ok because the way we are playing and feel our defense will rise to the top. I was a nervous wreck during the rest of the 4th quarter. What have I done that I should not have done? I was red across the board. After I had steamed my wangs before they would go in the oven and I had put them in the fridge during the 3rd quarter. This must have been it so I took them back out of the fridge and placed them exactly where they were in the first half. My pacing was wearing a new path in the kitchen as Idaho took the lead with 52 seconds to go in the game. I need more red wine! We drive down to the 39 yard line with 1 second on the clock. Wow, this is an opportunity to kick a game winning field goal, but oh no, this is a long ways. A 56 yard field goal? I am not sure I can watch. After about 5 minutes of time out icing from Idaho, the snap was made, the hold was down and the kick was on the way. Oh no it sailed left of the upright. I watched for a few minutes as Coach Dooley came up and hugged Matt and the cameras followed Matt for another minute or so. Since it was Halloween night and with no candy, I did not have any lights on and I sat on the kitchen floor for what seemed like hours. How can I take this pain away from Matt? How we he handle the critics? How will Janet be? How can I make things better? Why did the red out not work? All of this is going through my head. The next thing I know Matt is calling me. I was not sure what to say or ask. I asked him how he was doing. He said he was ok, but disappointed with the missed PAT and field goal. He felt like he let the team and especially the seniors down. I told him I was proud of him and I loved him and he said "Dad, while it hurts right now, this is another one of life’s lessons. I have to pick my head up and move forward. The only thing that matters right now is my next kick. My goal is to always be 1 for 1. Dad I need to call mom because I know she is going to be a wreck." We said our goodbye’s and I sat in the dark for a while. I did ask Matt what did Coach Dooley tell you after the kick and he said "that was a heck of a kick and don't hang your head down." I had many family members call an voice their encouragement and it was greatly appreciated. I know this could be tough on Matt this upcoming week. I think he is about as mentally tough as they come, but I always worry. I got a text from Matt about 2:05 AM and they had arrived into Monroe. He hit his apartment around 3:30 AM. I spoke to Matt later Sunday evening. He was already in Boise St mode. Stretch & Stride had gone well and he broke down film with Coach Dooley. They looked at the missed PAT from several different angles and the snap was the same, the hold was the same and the ball was on the same part of the foot as all others. The ball just drifted right. I thought it had to be a slight movement in the angle approach. I just don't know. The film showed that the field goal had enough distance to make it. Matt said that Coach Dooley visited with him on the flight home. He wanted to know how he was doing and Matt said I have been better Coach and Coach Dooley told him that all good place kickers go through these feelings. It is up to you what you do next. Matt also received a call from Coach Russell Sunday night. He said his sister had gone to the game and to keep his head high. Everyone knows what type of kicker/person you are and if Coach Dooley did not have the confidence in you he would not keep sending you out there for 55 plus yarders. Wow, what an emotional roller coaster weekend. I am so proud of Matt and I know that this will help him in the long run. I am not sure where the rest of our season will go, but I like our chances finishing the season strong. I know Matt will be glad to see Chris Boniol as he will be in attendance for the game. I hope they get to spend a little time together before the game. I will defiantly have to adhere to a different dress code for the upcoming games. I can’t wait for Friday to get here. I will be making the trip over on Thursday and will be at the stadium bright and early Friday morning. I will be in tailgate spot #52 and will have many family and friends in attendance. I know Matt and the team will be ready for some Bronco Butt kickin' I want to give a special thanks to Tom Morris for letting me use some of his photos again. If you ever need any pictures of your favorite kicker please visit LaTechSportsPix. I can't wait to hear my friends at BleedTechBlue on Tuesday. Good luck this coming Friday night against Boise St. Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!