I think I am finally drying out and my fingers and toes are no longer looking like prunes. I was beginning to wonder if they would go back to their original shape. I know I am old, but I am not ready for permanent wrinkles! I'm still pretty disappointed that we lost that game. I guess I need to take Matt's advice and only dwell on it that night because the next morning we start preparing for the next game. Onto the Central Arkansas game we go. I don't know that much about Central Arkansas except they have a couple of D1 SEC transfers, they sport a nice purple color on their jersey and they have a honey bear on their helmet. Our journey started later than normal but that is okay. The most important thing is we get to go to the game and spend time with family and friends. I talked to Matt several times during the week after practice and he said everything is going really well. He said the teams emotions are running very high and the passing game seems to be really clicking!
He said he kicked the ball really well and spent part of the time with team working on some crazy kicks in case the situation presented itself. Is Coach Dooley back calling the special teams plays? I'm still not a huge fan of all this crazy stuff. I guess they want me to wear extra drawers all the time! He did say that he cannot wait to get on the field on game day and was ready to kick some butt. We met my parents at Matt's house Friday night to load up the rest of the tailgate stuff. Matt has a storage shed in his backyard and it sure makes it sweet not to have to haul all of the tailgate stuff back and forth. It was great seeing my parents. The last time we were together was Christmas. We loaded everything up and made our way to tailgate spot number 52. After we unloaded we realized that the tent weights were missing. This is not a good! Since the team had already left for the team hotel we are in a mess with no extra key to Matt’s car. Janet decided to go check his car and luckily his back door was open. We now have tent weights except there are chicken feathers all over them. I am sure Matt will have a wild story about the chicken feathers.
Now that the tents and tables are all set up I am in need of an adult beverage. It was pretty late so we hung out at Johnny's Pizza before heading to the hotel. We watched a little football and opened a nice bottle wine. We visited with my parents a bit and then it was lights out. 6 AM came really early, but what the heck. It was game day and you need to soak up every minute of it. We made an ice run at 7:45 AM and then it was off to tailgate spot number 52. After we unload of the rest of the stuff it was Bloody Mary time! This is awesome! Football season in Ruston is now here and I am stoked. I brought a new grill with me on this trip. I have always wanted to cook on old-school diner type flat top griddle. Hot sausage, hash browns and scrambled eggs would be on our breakfast menu.
Nothing goes better with Bloody Mary’s than the good ole breakfast taco. I must admit they were darn good. It is now time to kick back and visit with our tailgate neighbors. We had lot’s of great people come visit. Bradley Walker, Dusty McGehee John Hamm, Mr. Ross Harper, Ms. Tony, Mr. & Mrs Garland, Mr. Rust, Dan Matthiesen, J Ford and Ross Barclay just to name a few. Speaking of Dan Mathiesen I need to give a shout out to him and the rest of the equipment/training staff. They do not get enough credit for everything they do along with the long/late hours they put in. Many thanks for everything that you all do. Janet's mom/dad and aunt/uncle all made their way over for the game from Houston and Dallas. All the family support is awesome! Our lunch today was going to be green chili cheese burgers, dogs and jalapeno sausage all cooked on my new old-school flattop Grill.
My goal this year is to serve lunch between 2:00 PM and 2:30 PM for 6 PM games. This way we can get stuff cleaned up and spend time with family and friends before the game. I am stoked to cook burgers and dogs on the flattop. My tailgate neighbor Mr. Bobby Cockrell is grilling design your own shish kebabs. This is an awesome idea where each guest can make their own flavor. One of the guests is making fruit cobbler and a Dutch oven.
I have seen this process on TV but not in real life. The canned fruit goes in and the cake mix goes on the top of that with lots of pats of butter. Nine hot coals go underneath the Dutch oven and 17 hot coals go on top. I'm not sure what this concept of 9 and 17 hot coals is, but after 45 minutes you have a perfect cobbler. Most of our family has already gone in to watch Matt warm-up. Mr. Rust and I talk strategy over a few adult beverages before we head into the stadium. It’s a beautiful afternoon for a football game. I am not sure what to expect of the team after the Southern Miss game, but I hope to see the same intensity by our defense and some new schemes on offense since we are not playing on a pond!
It’s game time baby! In the first quarter NI and QP hook up for 2 scores on a couple of long bombs and CA puts up 10 points. The second quarter we exchange TD’s and go into half with a score of 21 – 17. I am not sure of what to think so far except our defense is not the same I witnessed at the SM game. I was glad they were letting Matt kick deep on his kickoffs. No funny stuff please! We kickoff to start the 3rd quarter and CA comes away with a FG. Then we march down the field with 2 quick TD’s and are up 35 to 20. I like what I am seeing. Let’s keep this going! We give up a bomb to CA to end the 3rd quarter. Tech is up 35 – 27. The 4th quarter starts off with another bomb by CA and the make the 2 point conversion.
I do not believe what I am seeing. These honey bears have tied the game at 35 -35. At the 5:15 mark in the 4th quarter Matt goes out for a 46 yard FG to take the lead and he pushes it slightly right. Man, I know he is going to beat himself up with this one. There is still plenty of time. CA gets the ball back and we intercept a pass and we are now in control. As we march down the field for a possible game winning FG we fumble the ball at the CA 27 and they run it back for a TD. This is really not happening! Is this a dream? We get the ball back at the 2:08 mark and march down the field for a 7 yard rush TD by RH. The PAT is good and this will be my first OT game to witness. I don’t know how to explain my emotions right now. This roller coaster is not good for me and the bottled water is not helping either. Oh adult beverage where are you? CA starts overtime and we stop them on 3 straight plays and they try a 39 yard FG and our defense penetrates and we block the FG. Are you kidding me? Someone please pinch me. Ok guys we have 4 plays to either get the ball across the line or through the goal post.
We run 3 straight running plays and LC rams her home. Can you believe? Oh my! Thank goodness for the extra drawers as they came in real handy for this game. I am lost for words and I am better off to keep my mouth shut and celebrate the win. The only thing I will say is that our play calling on both sides of the ball needs to get with the program! We went up to see Matt after the game. He hugged everyone’s neck and did not say too much. He was very happy with the win, but felt that he let the team down when he missed the FG to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. We went back to the tailgate area and Matt came over for a few minutes. We said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel. We met Matt, Ben and Will (Matt’s roommates) for breakfast at the Waffle House for breakfast. Matt seemed to be in better sprits! He said after he left the tailgate area Saturday night he went up to watch film. CT saw him and asked him what the hell he was doing. Matt said “Coach I want to watch film of all of my kicks. CT told him to get his ass out of the film room and go enjoy the win.
Matt amazes me more every day. He is such a perfectionist at his craft. His mental toughness and approach to a game still amazes me every week as he prepares for a game. He will grow from this and be ready for the next kick. His goal is to always go 1 for 1 and that approach will take him far. We finished breakfast and headed back to North Dallas. I will leave the CA game here. I could go on and on with my thoughts, but a win is a win and we move forward. I want to give a special shout out to special teams this week. The kickoff team, punt team, the return team and the FG team. Also a special shout out to JC, RA and TB. The deep snaps, punts and the holds have been awesome so far this year. Oh my, next week does not get any easier as the high potent offense of the U of H Pussycats come to town. CK is a 6th year senior and has some amazing passing stats during his career. I spent a lot of my younger life following the pussycats during the run & shoot days. That was some exciting offense during that time. It should be a great game! I am very excited about our U of H tailgate. My Aunt’s & Uncles are coming down from Kansas City. They follow Matt and La Tech every Saturday from the Show Me State!
My parents will be back, Janet’s parents along with her Aunt & Uncle will be back and my brother-in-law, sister-n-law and my niece will be making their first game of the season. It will be a true family affair. 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 J Ford at Bleed Tech Blue on ESPN 97.7 FM every Tuesday night. 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!