Thursday, September 8, 2011

Southern Miss - 9/3/11

My heartbeat has increased and the anticipation is racing every left hand turn I can find! Do you know what this week is football fans? It is opening weekend of the greatest game on earth! College football is right here, right now! I think they should come up with a deodorant scent for game day. That would be very cool! I wonder what the flavor should be. Leather? Grass? Sweat? I guess it really would not matter. Anything that said game day on it I would wear. This is going to be an amazing week! I start a new job on the 6th (Drytac) and I am heading to Hattiesburg to watch the Dawgs play! Can I say Happy Dance! The weather report does not look too friendly. I am ok with that because I think all real sports should be played outdoors in the elements. I talked to Matt several times during the week. Practices have gone very well. Everyone is very upbeat and focused. Matt said he has kicked well during practice and was ready to move the clock forward to Saturday night. CT has him working on several different directional kicks and all of the funny kicks. I understand that if the situation presents itself they have to be prepared. That is the part I hate, but understand. With the unfriendly weather about a 150 % possibility Matt, Taylor and Josh decjded to practice in the water late Thursday. CT would put the ball in water for several seconds and give it to Josh. They would pour water on Josh's hands before he snapped.
Taylor had his hands soaking wet and they poured water on the spot where Matt's plant foot would be during the kick. Originally I thought this was pretty funny, but when I thought about it the reason behind it, it was pretty genius. Matt said he went 6 for 6 at different distances. The team would depart Ruston at 2:00PM and head to Hattiesburg. My adventure would begin by departing Dallas at 7:30AM with David (Janet's Uncle) from North Dallas. After a couple of stops we made our way to Ruston around 11:45AM. Matt met us at Johnny's Pizza for some lunch before he had to be at the field house. He was in good spirits, but was pretty quiet. I know to just ask a few questions since he was in game mode. After Johnny’s we made our way over to the Super One for some La Tech peanuts. It was a brand new display and I took the first 2 cans. Onward to Hattiesburg we go! We made our way to the Comfort Inn at 5:15PM and we needed a drink. Right on queue at 6:00PM the sirens blared as the team drove by the hotel on the way to the field for a walk through. That was really cool! I now know it is game on! I knew that Matt had a team dinner at 7:00PM so we made our way over to the team hotel shortly after and met Matt in the lobby to watch the Baylor/TCU game. This is a crazy game! Where did Baylor come from or where did TCU go? It was good spending time with Matt! They were going to a movie at 9:30PM so we headed out to grab some grub and watch the 2nd half of the game. All I am going to say is WOW! RG3 is a beast!
The big day is here and the rain and wind are upon us. Most games I go to I need extra drawers and this game was no exception. While getting ready for the day I realized that I had no extra drawers and a special run to Wal-Mart was needed. I made my way to Hattiesburg with everything else except my drawers. Go figure! After breakfast and my special Wal-Mart trip we made our way to the team hotel to visit Matt one more time before it was time to get my mind right. Matt had breakfast at 10:00AM and special teams walk through at 10:45AM in the parking lot. If you’re going to play in the rain you do your walk through in the rain. Matt had a window to visit between 11:15AM and 1:00PM. We sat in the lobby and watched Utah St and Auburn. Utah St has a freshman stud at QB. They are giving Auburn a good run. We left Matt and wished him luck. He was very focused and ready! I have waited long enough! It is time to jump head first in the adult beverages. David  I made our way back to the hotel to watch as many games as our remote would take us to. Beer, peanuts and single malt whiskey was on the menu. Midway through the afternoon food started to enter our minds and someone on the BBB had mentioned the Po Boy Express. That is where we headed. It was located on 4th street on the east side of 49 very close to the stadium. The Po Boy Express did not disappoint! It was fantastic. We had the steak bomb! As they say, if you are constipated the steak bomb will clear all problems. You take a normal cheese steak and you pile it full with fried shrimp. Need I say more except it came with homemade onion rings! After not eating any bread products over the last 45 days, the last 24 hours has been bread abuse!
While we were there we chatted with the owner and he told us we could park behind the restaurant for the game. That was very cool! It will only take us 10 minutes to get to the gate. As the rain and wind was everywhere we drove around the campus. Not very many people are out and about except the parking attendants sitting in the rain with no one trying to park. We felt sorry for them as some of them we saw out there on our special Wal-Mart run. We made our way back to the hotel for our final consumption of adult beverages. We hit the road at 7:00 and parked at the Po Boy Express. Game time was at 9:00PM central time. I had a rain suit top and David had a rain suit top and bottom. It did not take very long and my bottom portion was completely soaked. Football games = elements so I am ok with it. We made our way into the stadium and I saw my very first football lake. Wow! This is going to be very interesting! I saw Matt and he was kicking a few kicks and he looked like a drowned rat. I am not sure how all of this is going to work, but maybe they will squeegee off the kicking area before they kick.
HaHa! The team went in and Matt came back out with full pads on. He kicked a few from different areas of the field. There were not too many areas that were not ponding. I saw some of his kicks they spotted the ball in the ponds and it looked like he was hitting an explosion shot out of a sand trap. Let the games begin! Matt will kick the opening kickoff! I was not sure how his plant foot would hold up, but he got a good kick off in the conditions. Southern Miss runs 7 plays and scores a TD. Oh no! That looked pretty easy. On our 2nd possession we get down to the Southern Miss 14 and go for it on 4th down and 1. I bet you wonder what happened next. We gave the ball back to them on their 14 yard line. I am not the coach so I guess I need to hush and not speak my mind, but I would call that a missed opportunity! Not! Back and forth both teams go giving the ball back to each other.
At the 3:30 mark we are on the Southern Miss 34 yard line with a 4th and 18. With 7 seconds left on the play clock we send the kicking team out for a 51 yard FG. 7 seconds is not long enough to get the play off so we get a delay of the game penalty. Who on the sidelines is in charge of clock management? When you are playing in a weather game every point is so critical. We are now at a 56 yard FG and CD sends in the punting team. I understand the chance of a block so the punt was the right thing, but why did the decision to kick the FG take so long in the first place? The half comes to an end with Southern Miss up 7 - 0 and another missed opportunity. The 2nd half starts and both teams go back in forth punting the ball to each other. The defense is jacked up! At the 7:50 mark Matt goes out for a 28 yard FG and connects! Great snap, great hold and blocking by the O line ensures the opportunity is there. The score is now 7 - 3. Southern Miss connects on a FG and then it is the Show me your Fitte show as Lyle takes it to the house and we have a ball game as the score is now tied 10 - 10.
Southern Miss adds another FG and we recover a bobbled punt by Ryan Allen. A few plays later and LC pounds the ball in for a TD. Matt connects on the PAT and we are rolling at 17 - 13. We allow Southern Miss 2 more FG's and we end up on the wrong end of a 19 - 17 score. I am upset with the loss. I personally hate to lose! We were so close! (Wind and 10 inches of rain did not help, but both teams played on the same field) We had so chances and so many positives! While there were some negatives they are not something we cannot fix! Our kids played with so much heart. I am very proud of this team! I will never understand coaching mentality as they beat the drum to a different beat than I do. We talked to Mr. Rust as we waited for Matt to come out of the locker room. I think we were pretty spot on with our observation on the game. You will have to ask Mr. Rust about his frog suit. He was completely dry after the game! When Matt made his way out of the locker room the first words out of his mouth were “I hate to lose”! “I am pissed”! “This team is too good to go down like this”.
“We had this game won”! All I can do is give him a hug and say great game! I know that is not what he wants to hear when you lose, but what else do you say? We talked about the game and the experience on the field. It is now 1:25AM and Matt heads to the bus and we head to the hotel. After a few adult beverages and David and I going over the game, 3:00AM has dawned its ugly head on us. We still have an 8 hour drive home to North Dallas tomorrow. The morning would come early and I am sure with a headache. As I lay in bed I reflect on the game. The QB play was good, the receivers had a hard time with a wet ball, the O line played better in the 2nd half, there was not much of a running game, the defense was amazing, special teams were WOW, missed scoring opportunities and the specialist came through when they were called upon. I am not sure if that captures it in a nutshell or not, but those are my observations.
Until this offense becomes a wrecking force you have to take the points when they are within your kickers range. Points are very important to this team. Don't get me wrong when an offense is clicking, try going for a 4th down at times, but in the meantime take the points! This is my opinion only! I am going to leave the Southern Miss game alone. It was a hard fought battle with some extreme elements. I am very proud of this team and what the future holds. Central Arkansas is next. I don't know much about them except they are called the Honey Bears and have a couple of D1 transfers on the team. On 2nd thought any male team called the Honey Bears deserves to have their ass kicked! I see a bulldawg butt whipping happening Saturday night. I appreciate all of those who are following my journey. It is such a blast to follow Matt Nelson through his eye and the Bulldog team! I might not say the right things, but I write from the bottom of my heart and what my feelings are during the week and during the game.
I don’t intend to hurt anyone, but I am very passionate about La Tech Football! My opinions on the coaches and their decisions are only mine and no one else’s. Don’t forget to listen to my friends at Tech Nation Radio every Tuesday night. Some of the photos are courtesy of Mr. Tom Morris. He is such an amazing photographer. May your Football Season be filled with many Football Victories, Sunny Smiles, Sandy Dreams and Travel Your Way! Until our paths cross again, have a blessed week! College Football Dad!