Thursday, March 29, 2012

My First Last

     The first major last of my college football career has come and gone.  My last spring football is in the books, and I will never have one again.  Overall, I think this has been one of the most enjoyable springs I have had in a while and that has translated to the field.  Many of the coaches have noticed and commented that I have been playing with "more confidence."  I think this is a result of being more relaxed and trying to have fun, like most seniors do their last year.  But I think the whole defense has been playing with more of a swagger and hope that this carries over into summer workouts and into the season.

     The spring game is like any other scrimmage for me, but we get to have some fans there supporting us! I like seeing the fans and getting to interact with them after the game...but during the scrimmage it's all business, trying to earn your spot and beating the offense.  Business that day was taking place on scorching hot rubber field!  It was definitely the hottest day of the spring and after a while your cleats begin to feel like they are on fire.  The rubber on the field can get up to 160+ degrees.  We were definitely fighting the heat, but overall I think we had a good scrimmage.  The first drive was a wake up call for the defense as were driven down the field and scored on.  But from there, we woke up and stepped up to the plate as we fought the offense.  I was able to get some good tackles and give a big hit that got the crowd going.  A lot of people asked if i was talking smack to him as I was getting up, but honestly I never say anything to the opponent.  I let my actions do the talking, and talking smack doesn't do anything but get your opponent pumped up.  So I just like to be the silent and maybe push their head into the ground as I'm getting up for extra emphasis!  Many teammates and peers have told me that I need to celebrate more when I make plays, but I guess I'm just not that surprised when I do something good... Maybe I'll work on that.

     As I was walking off the field for the last time this spring, I had a weird foreshadowing type feeling of how it will feel when college football is all over.  I'm not ready for this to be over, so I better make every second count because there is not much time left.  I've been putting my blood, sweat, and tears into this for four years and I'm ready for it to pay off.  I have high hopes for this year, and this spring was a great start to what I have in mind...

-Student of the Game

Video Highlights of the Spring Game from YouTube:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ask An Athlete #2

Welcome to the second edition of "Ask An Athlete!" Myles Frakes a Sophomore football player from Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi, TX comes to me with this question...

Where was your hardest hit and on who?

My hardest hit...Hmmmmm. Well hopefully that is yet to come! I have had some hard hits my first three years, but have been slowed down by injuries.  Last year I hardly had any big hits and was very dissapointed with that fact.  This year I am looking to make big hits and put fear into the opponent.  As for my hardest hit so far, I would have to say it is a tie between two hits on Texas A&M.  (The above picture shows one of my runner up hits).  My red-shirt Freshman year I had a hit on Jamie McCoy #4 in Lubbock.  It was a huge collision but I put my head down too low, I'll never do that again!  I actually ended up hurting my back and fracturing a few vertebrae because I had my head down.  Lesson for all the young players out there!  My next hit was during my Sophomore year on Jeff Fuller #8 in College Station.  The ball was tipped up by the corner on the sideline and was still within reaching distance of Fuller, so I came in and made sure he was not going to catch it.  The referees made a bad call and said it was unsportsmanlike, but if you look at the film the ball still had a chance to be caught.  Check out the videos of these two hits below.  Anyway, I think those were two of my hardest hits when it comes to impact so far, but look for more to come this year!

Videos of both of these hits:
Videos from YouTube:
RS Freshman hit on Jamie McCoy #4

Sophomore hit on Jeff Fuller #8

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To God be the Glory

     I have been a Christian all of my life... I grew up in a family that went to church almost every Sunday and both of my grandparents were church goers. We attended First Christian Church in Stephenville and had chosen this location because of close family friends that also went there.  We were the average American family. We went to church because it was the right thing to do...but even as a kid i knew that was not enough. I would fight going to church sometimes because I knew we were not doing it for the right reasons. I believed in God and Jesus, but other than that I had very little knowledge. I knew the main concepts, but had read little of the bible and understood even less. When I was still young, me and two friends decided to get baptised. I remember thinking i would come out of the water and be magically feel like a new person with a different outlook on life! I failed to recognize the symbolic nature of baptism, but i knew i believed in Jesus and had a lot to learn.   I knew i was missing something, and not giving it my all. This type of passive religion was very frustrating, but yet I never did anything to change it... until now.

     Steve Grant is our team chaplain and he gave us a message one night before a game and a quote that has really stuck with me. "To God be the Glory!" he said, and as simple a message as it was it really inspired me to start truly living for God. Steve Grant and Bobby Dagnel, the team pastor, have really helped myself and the whole team along this journey. Having them around the team helping, praying, and giving devotionals has given us players a sense of direction and a resource for those who wants to partake. With this support, I have started to consistently attend Bobby's church at First Baptist in Lubbock. Ashley, my fiancee, and I are also going to a engaged/newlywed bible study. This church support has given me help with a better understanding of the bible and my expectations as an active Christian. I also have set a goal to read the New Testament by the end of the year as shown in my post "New Years Resolutions." I am inspired to do everything I can to be a better Christian in all aspects of my life including football. In this way I hope to be a good role model for future athletes and to show that you can do the right thing and still be successful. I am on the right path of Faith and can't wait to see what God has in store for me next! My testimony is not extreme and i am not perfect... I still have a lot to learn, questions to face, and tribulations to overcome... I'm just a student of this game they call life!

-"To God be the Glory!"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Headed into the Break

     Scrimmage #2 was a bend but not break performance.  Overall, the defense did not give up a touchdown unless the drive started in the red-zone.  However, we did give up a ton of yardage on long drives and our tackling was not as crisp as the first scrimmage.  This has a little to do with fatigue and more to do with a lack of focus.  There was definitely a fatigue difference between having one or two days of practice off before a scrimmage.  In either case, there was better competition between offense and defense resulting in a back and forth battle.  Coach Kaufman was pleased with effort and holding the offense to minimal points, but dissapointed with the long drives and run tackling.  I personally didn't feel too great about my performance.  But, there is only one truth in this game...Film.  Film is the eye in the sky and always tells the truth about how you performed.  When you go back and look at practice on film it is always never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems.  My performance was the latter.  I improved on my last scrimmage score and turned in a 90%, and DBs all around improved having 4 or 5 guys receiving an A.  A breakdown of assignment, technique, and production of every single play results in this final percentage score.  This gives you exactly what you messed up on and what needs to be improved.  And trust me we go through every single play on film!

     Practices are now into the fine tuning and weeding out stage.  The players and coaches are now familiar with each other.  The defensive signals and calls are now known.  As the defense gets down to the specifics and fine tuning, the players that are not meeting expectations are getting left behind.  Players must stay on top of the daily defensive installs, know the calls, and play with the proper technique that the coaches have been teaching us.  The coaches are like our bosses, and we have to do what they want us to do and HOW they want us to do it.  Some players don't understand this concept.  With this being said, the two deep are starting to be solidified and coaches are no longer letting stuff slide that was happening in the first half of spring ball.  Players are also being moved around to find the best fit and get the best players on the field.

     We are now 2/3 of the way done with spring ball! Scrimmage #2 is in the books and we are 10 practices down.  It is flying by and the spring game will be here before you know it.  Headed into spring break, we get a much needed rest period.  All the players are excited to get back home and enjoy a few days off.  This break will allow us a break from the daily grind to refresh our bodies, get our mind off football, and come back energized and ready to finish strong!

-Student of the Game  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ask An Athlete #1

     The first installment of "Ask An Athlete" is here!  These posts will be solely based off of questions asked by you.  Head on over to Ask An Athlete to contact me with any questions you would like answered and they might be featured on my blog!

   Greg F. from Dallas, TX is a Texas Tech alumni and runs the sports website  He comes to me with the following questions:

1. What's your favorite stadium to play in, besides the Jones?

My favorite away stadium to play in is the Dallas Cowboys stadium.  I have played there twice now and the sheer size and quality of the place is so over the top, it impresses you every time.  On the field, the stadium looks massive and you almost have to look straight up to see the screen.  The turf is kind of slippery, but the experience is something you can't match.  Running out of the tunnel the first time we played there it felt like we were in the NFL! The cameras were flashing and the sight is something I will never forget.

2. What's the loudest stadium you've ever played in?

The loudest stadium I have played in would have to be Nebraska.  That stadium and atmosphere was awesome.  The stadium seemed very close to you and went straight up.  Those first few drives, my ears were ringing because of how loud the crowd was!  They weren't loud for too long though.  That game was one of the overall best games I have been apart of.  Going into a hostile environment, having fun, and winning!  I say "hostile" but those fans were as nice as can be.  They were congratulating us as we were leaving the field...that was something I didn't expect.

3. What do you want to see/hear from the Texas Tech student section?

I would love to see the student section chanting and jumping around during songs.  I wish the 3rd quarter song would have worked out with something like "Jump Around" or a chant style song like "Kernkraft 400 (Sports Chant Stadium Remix)" where the students can interact.  The band plays the latter of the two, and it would be awesome if the whole crowd would chant along with it, and even jump with it! But overall, I just love for the crowd to get involved in the game and show their support.

4. How much does crowd noise and atmosphere actually affect the game play?

Crowd noise and atmosphere drastically effect adrenaline as a player.  And with adrenaline comes better play, effort, and excitement on the field!  The crowd really effects your mental state in this way and there is a major contrast from a packed house to an empty stadium.  If nobody is at raider walk and in the stadium, then you don't get the same sort of excitement and adrenaline level that gets you ready.  As a player, you can still be focused and ready to play...but the adrenaline fuel of the crowd cannot be duplicated.

-Student of the Game

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Through Scrimmage 1

         The first scrimmage of the spring is done and 1/3 of spring ball is already over.  The first couple of practices are always a little hectic with new coaches.  We have already met them and know a little about them off the field, in offices, and in the meeting rooms but when practice starts it's a whole different story!  On the field is where you show your true colors for both coaches and players.  For both sides, there is a feeling out of each other and getting to know how the other acts and performs on the field.  Players get to know how coaches act in a game situation, their coaching style, and their expectations for practice and a game.  Coaches get to know players' style, attitude, physicality, and basically if they can produce.  With that said, the first four practices went by very smooth and productive.  Instead of hearing a screaming coach 24/7 when you did good or bad, there were coaches who set high expectations that corrected you when you did something wrong but also praised you when you did good.  Don't get me wrong there was still yelling, but less yelling and more teaching.  This made for a less stressful experience than some previous springs.  We had steadily learned new defensive packages and coverage calls as the first practices progressed and had gotten in the grove of how things were going to be run.

       Then the scrimmage was here, and all of the techniques and skills we have been practicing would be put to the test.  Nerves begin to come into play and also it was the first time we were allowed to tackle.  This would be the first true test of how we would react in a game.  I was excited to show the coaches what I could do and prove I was a worthy candidate to earn a starting role.  The scrimmage was a success and the defense had overall won the day.  The swarm was in effect as everyone was running to the ball and gang tackling the offense.  Kaufman afterward said overall we did good at flying around to the ball and communication, and we need to work on more technique.  I didn't get a big hit or interception that I had wanted, but came out with 8.5 tackles and a grade of almost 80%.  This was the second highest of the DBs, with Tre Porter coming out with the best score.  With my score, I have plenty of room for improvement in technique, alignment, and running my feet through tackles.  I still managed to impress the coaches, and now they had a good idea of the players they had and who could step into starting roles.  Now that the firsts are out of the way, and now the coaches are wanting to find leaders to step up and take control.  I have always tried to lead by example, but that might not be good enough... Leadership might have to be the next lesson I learn as the Student of the Game.

    The following YouTube videos showcase some of the action from Scrimmage 1: