Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hawaii 9/30/09

Holy Hawaiian Haka! It is a middle of the week ESPN2 game. It is a Wednesday night all by your lonesome for the nation to see game. 10 days until the game and a couple of days off should help. I can't wait for this one. What the heck is a Haka anyway? They say it is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment. It sounds like to me that it is a wide variety of vigorous body actions such as slapping the hands against the body and stamping of the feet. Now that is funny right there! My week started out better with the business, but with a middle of the week game and travel on the bookends it will still take me several days to catch-up. I am trying to get ready for October 14th. In the travel business it is considered the World's Largest Cruise Night. Actually October is National Cruise Vacation Month. Enough of that! This is College Football Dad, not the travel wizard! I talked to Matt several times over the weekend. Since they have a Wednesday night game their Monday practice routine would start on Wednesday and they would duplicate Thursday twice. There must be a method to the madness. Matt's practice week went well. He went back to his normal steps and angle. They still worked on the 5 kick package. There are 5 kicks that can be used at any given time and being prepared for the unexpected is expected. The kickoff distance will fluctuate as they continue working on hang time. Yes we need the hang time, but we have to get our coverage down the field for it to be successful. I head to Dallas on Sunday to spend a few days with my wife (works in Big D full time) before I head over to Ruston on Tuesday. My Tuesday starts dark and early as I head out at 5:40AM. I don't sleep much the few days before the game. My brain tries to coach and run through possible play combinations. No I am not a coach, but my mind thinks it is. My parents (John & Carol) and their neighbors Pat & Gerri Piscitelli drove up the day before all the way from The Villages, FL. I think it was 13 hours. That is a long way to see a La Tech game. My parents (John & Carol) have not been to Ruston before and they were super excited. Matt met them for breakfast on Tuesday morning. He took them out on the field, showed the guys the locker room and took a few pictures out on the middle of the field with them. They could not believe how narrow the goal post were from the on the field view. They got to spend some time in the La Tech Hall of Fame and were amazed at how many athletes they knew had played at La Tech. I hit Ruston about 9:45AM and hooked up with Matt for a little while before they had to be at the field house. Looks like Matt had a few care packages brought to him from Carol and Gerri. There was food and more food. They brought tons of cookies, homemade biscotti, homemade cinnamon streusel, gum, peanut butter filled pretzels, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, peanut butter, jelly, pop tarts and a case of sun chips. I guess everyone wants Matt to gain a couple of pounds this year. With three other roommates I am sure that it will go quick once they get wind of more food in the apartment. Since this was a Red Out game we had to go to Mitchells Pharmacy to check out the gear from the Tech Team Shop. We bought a few things there and then off to the bookstore for more stuff. I think the local economy was supported on this trip. A quick lunch at the Dawg House and Matt was off to grab his suit and head to the field house. We headed to the TAC at 6:15PM for a pep rally before the team headed out for the team hotel for the night. Coach Dooley was intense and to the point. Since the game was being televised on ESPN2, there is always a possibility that the announcing crew could be staying at the same hotel and sure enough, Lou Holtz, Mark May and Reese Davis were all staying at the Fairfield Inn. It was pretty cool to be in the same vicinity as these guys. Reese and Lou even sat next to us at the Log Cabin during dinner. Reese had a huge steak and Lou had a burger and wine. We did introduce ourselves and let them enjoy their dinner. After a few night caps, game day had arrived. My stomach was churning. I don't think I was hungry so it must have been my pregame nerves. We headed to Monroe around 10AM to visit with Matt for about an hour. He was very calm in my book. I could not sit still. Maybe it was still the nerves or it could have been the adult beverages calling my name. He even had a button come off of his suit and had his grandmother sew on a new button. I don't think his ice water ever melts. I wished him luck and back to Ruston we go. My wife and her Uncle (David) would meet us at the hotel. The red is on and at 2:00 we head to the stadium. I am still trying to figure out the lay of the land so our tailgating would remain out the back of my suburban. The cooler was loaded with beer, wine and water. We had a few wine and cheese party like appetizers. My friends back in Dallas and San Antonio are going give me hell again. I am a grill/smoker/meat man and I will figure out where I can cook before the next home game. After a few beers my stomach had calmed down some, but it was still rolling. I don't think the whole ESPN; only game on the tube thing has sunk in yet. About 4:45PM we head over to the field house so we can see the team get off the bus. They must be coached how to get off the bus and walk. Their eyes are looking forward and their game face is on. It is very cool to see your son before the big game. I know Matt to well. Before I can walk back to the suburban, drink another beer and get into the stadium, he will already be on the field. His work ethic just amazes me. During his pregame workout he looked pretty good. I have about got this all figured out. After Matt goes through his routine Coach Tommerdahl will check with Matt to get his range. They chat for about three minutes and Coach Tommerdahl takes torn pieces of paper, throws them in the air and charts the wind direction. I am sure the information is given to Coach Dooley. After watching Matt's warm-ups I had figured his range to be 49 towards the Bulldog and 51 towards the Jumbotron. I would find out later I was pretty close. Game time is here! The crowd is incredible. There is red everywhere. I am very impressed with how many fans and students have come out on a Wednesday night. If you have not been to a game at Joe Aillet Stadium you are in for a treat. They even have guards guarding the Bulldog! This is great! Are you ready for some football? Hawaii kicks off and the game is on. Hawaii marched down the field and threw up a quick field goal. We came back with a running game and a touchdown. Where had that been? Matt would kick a 28 yard field goal in the second quarter. We are looking good. It was almost half time and as I got up to head upstairs to the men's room I see them sending Matt out for a 58 yard field goal. Are you kidding me? Nooooo! Good, they call time out and they were just trying to play with Hawaii. Wrong! They were playing with me. All they wanted to do was remind everyone that there was a return guy in the end zone! They sent him back out there. Why? What are we doing? By the way I no longer need the men's room. That is why I wear two pairs of drawers. The ball is snapped, the kick is on the way and it ended up a tad short. I could not figure out the reasoning behind this. The half ended and my mind is coaching again. The kick was not that bad as it would end up about 3 yards short. I was very proud of Matt's efforts, but still very confused. I guess I will have to wait until after the game to find out. My oldest son called me at the half and said that after Matt kicked, the camera was on Coach Dooley and he had a grin on his face. I guess it could of been a look at what we have for the next four years fist pump grin. I know Matt too well. If the band would not of been on the field, he would of gone back to the same spot and kicked that 58 yarder again during half. La Tech would come out and dominate Hawaii on both sides of the ball. Matt would kick another short field goal of 26 yards and the offense would rack up 2 more touchdowns for a 27 - 6 victory over Hawaii. What a game! This was just the jump start that we needed as we head into conference play. We got to go over by the locker room and talk to Matt for a little bit. He was ok with everything and the 58 yarder did not faze him. I told him that it fazed me and he just laughed. He said he had good contact and height on the ball. He was disappointed that he missed, but if you have to miss, it is better for it to be a 58 yarder. We snapped a few family photos and head over to Chili's for our after game meal. I don't think Chili's was prepared for all of the people wanting to eat after the game. The manager was accommodating and asked us to be patient and they would get everyone fed. They did and good football conversation was had by all. When Matt was asked why Coach Dooley would kick a 58 yard field goal, he said that the time was right. Did Matt expect it to happen right then? I am not sure. My explanation is that Coach Dooley not only wants to teach these guys how to play football, but he also wants to teach them about life. I call it always be ready for the unexpected in life. He wanted to push Matt into something he was not expecting and see how he would react. Was Matt ready? No! I call that lesson learned. Matt will grow from that experience. I asked Matt what his range was for the game and I hit the 49 yards toward the Bulldog on the nose, but his range to the Jumbotron was 53. I was off by 2 yards in that direction. What a game and victory for La Tech. Our goodbyes are said and our lives head in different directions for another week. As I am driving back to Dallas for a couple of days before I head back to San Antonio, I reflect on how lucky I am to get to live college football with his eyes. I talked to Matt around noon on Thursday and he was in Coach Dooley’s office watching film. It never stops! Nevada is up next. I am not making this trip so I will be stuck to the TV. I feel like this is also a must win game. If we play the same way on both sides of the ball like we did against Hawaii, we will win this game. I just wanted to thank all of the family and friends for making the trip to Ruston along with all of the supporters watching the game on the tube. We truly appreciate all of the support. Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!