Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas


     The last game week of my career here at Texas Tech!  This week sneaked up on me while I have been busy with grad school and football.  I never thought this week would come and it is now here, and almost gone.  Looking back on how we got here... this has been a year of ups and downs.  We started out the way we wanted, making some big statements and huge wins.  But we struggled down the stretch for whatever reason and yet another coaching change has happened.  We set high expectations for ourselves and invested a lot this year.  Of course we are frustrated with the outcome, but we are in a bowl game and we have one last chance to go out and perform as a team.  With all of the distractions and how the season ended, some people are overlooking this game and focused on the future.  However, we must finish strong and go out with a win.

     We have been at Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston, Texas since Sunday the 23rd.  This week has been a relaxing one as they have not had many events for us during the week.  We have been practicing in the morning at Rice stadium and then have the night off when we get back around 2.  They have a nice game room set up for us with ping pong, Foosball  movies, and a lot of Xboxes to keep us entertained.  It didn't really feel like Christmas as we spent it here at the hotel by the Galleria.  But we were treated to a nice Christmas Dinner and even Santa came to visit us lol.  The main event of the week was the Rodeo Bowl which was a rodeo competition between the two teams.  My Stephenville background and our Texas heritage didn't help us out as Minnesota went on to win the competition.  But we made sure to let them know that we were ready for the game, as some "wait till Friday" and trash talking took place.  We just received our bowl gifts and our blessed to have earned them.  That's about it for the bowl events, and now we are focused and ready for the game.  Minnesota is a 6-6 Big 10 team with big bodies and a physical style offense.  They are different than the leaner speed we are used to seeing in the Big 12.  We must be physical and tackle well in order to shut down their running game.  Also, we must match up against their tall receivers and make them one dimensional.  This game is important to us seniors as we want to go out with a win and have a fun last experience as a Red Raider on the game field.  Thank God for this last opportunity!

-Student of the Game
#RideTogether

Videos from YouTube:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Going Through Changes


     Finally a post! Sorry I haven't updated in a while, it has been a hectic time lately to say the least.  I didn't expect to have to go through yet another change during my time here, but that's how this business is run and that how my career has been defined.  College football is a middle point between the pure business of the NFL and the mostly pure football nature of high school, at least from a players perspective.  Players in high school do not get anything but living out their childhood dreams and hope for a future in football.  The NFL is a business where you can build your own brand, but also get fired on any given day.  Then awkwardly in the middle is college football where you are able to earn scholarship, but are harshly restricted on business opportunities and things you can/can't do.  I think we are underpaid for everything we do and the health we sometimes sacrifice, but I won't get into that right now.  Nevertheless, we are penalized for transferring and switching schools by one whole year of our career.  That is a huge deal.  But coaches on the other hand can leave at their own will and literally wake up wearing one school's logo and go to bed wearing another school's logo.  Yes they are penalized, but being penalized financially hurts a lot less than being penalized with time like the players are.  Also, their leaving is a huge deal for everyone.  This leaves chaos for the assistant coaches, players, staff, and their families who don't know whether they have a job, where they are going to live, or their futures.  Nothing is guaranteed when a new staff comes in.  But whatever the case, the coach made a decision to leave and now the football program has had to deal with it.  And I think we have dealt with it really well!

     Changes is a part of life and football, but I never would have thought I would have so many.  Quantifying the changes in my 5 years gives me 3 head coaches, 2 interim head coaches, 4 defensive coordinators, 4 position coaches, and even 2 mascots as Midnight Matador was injured and retired this year!  Lol I had to throw that last one in there.  We have handled this change really well.  We have gone out and hired the up and coming Kliff Kingsbury.  I think this will bring the swagger back to the field and has already reunited the fan base.  Hopefully at the end of my career, all of these changes will have been for the better and Texas Tech will have a brighter future because of them.

-Student of the Game
#RideTogether

Monday, December 10, 2012

National Football Foundation Award Dinner


     This was one of the greatest honors of my career.  It was truly an honor to represent my family, Texas Tech, and Stephenville as a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award Recipient.  This Scholar-Athlete class had a great group of guys and it was a pleasure to meet them and get to know them.  Also, Congrats to Barrett Jones being the William V. Campbell trophy winner!  This is what being a student athlete is all about.  It's not just about how you perform on the field, but performing off the field as well and being a great role model.  All 15 players there represented that very well and I was honored to be a part of that.  It took a lot of hard work and help from a lot of people to get me to where I am today.  I thank God, my parents, my fiancee, my teachers, my coaches, family, and friends for all the help and support that helped me along the way.  I couldn't have done it without you!  Now a little about my experience in New York...

     Being my first trip to New York, it was definitely a blast.  The timing was perfect as the Christmas decorations were up around the city.  Just seeing all the massive buildings and how compact everything is really was eye opening.  We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria which is such a amazing and historical building.  Rex Burkhead was my roommate and I really enjoyed meeting him and getting to know him.  With the rest of the scholar-athlete group we had a press conference and continued on to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and then to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular.  The Rockettes were pretty  impressive and it was a great show.  The next day the group got together for pictures then it was on to the award dinner.  What a star studded event!  I was around some football legends and could not believe the players I was getting to meet.  It was an honor to meet Gabe Rivera and great for both of us to be at the event to represent Texas Tech.  My dad was even more star stuck as he knew more of the older players in attendance than I did.  It was my first black tie event and truly a night to remember.  After the event we got the chance to explore the city and do the following sightseeing: central park, empire state building, wall street, NYSE, Rockefeller center, Macy's, Times Square, Grand Central Station, ride the subway, 9/11 memorial, and got to see Wicked on Broadway.  Pictures and video from the award dinner are shown below.  It was a trip of a lifetime and I am truly blessed to have received such an award. God Bless!

-Student of the Game
#Blessed

Video from YouTube:

Pictures taken by my parents:



















Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Football Stadiums I Have Played In


     As the end of the season and my college football career draws toward an end, I will be giving you some info graphics reflecting on my time here at Texas Tech.  If you don't know what an info graphic is... it is basically any information shown in a visually appealing format (charts, graphs, maps, etc...).  To view all of the info graphics I have done so far be sure to check out my page called "Infographics."  The following is a Google map I made showing all of the football stadiums I have played in since I have been here (2008-2012).  Definitely have played in some of the biggest, best, and most tradition rich stadiums in the country. Be sure to check out the "Earth" view in order to see some of the stadiums in 3d.  If you don't like the little window, click on the link below the map to see it full screen.  Hope you enjoy!

*Made using Google Maps*

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Monday, November 26, 2012

Moving on to the Bowl Game


     Sometimes all you can do is move on.  That was yet another tough loss and the hardest to swallow by far.  We came in ready to play and started out great, but kept Baylor in the game by our mistakes.  The defense played good except for the big plays and critical penalties that kept drives alive.  We still could not get a turnover and that might have changed the game.  Being our third overtime this year, like a game of Russian roulette, time finally ran out on us and our mistakes came back to haunt us.  But whatever the reason, the final outcome is that we lost my final Big 12 game.  Have to move on and figure out a way to win my last game as a Red Raider.  We are going to a bowl and we have to just wait and watch this final college football week to find out our destiny.  I've never been to a bowl game outside of Texas, so hopefully this is the year!

-Student of the Game
#GoingBowling

Friday, November 23, 2012

Game Week 12: Baylor

*Logo covered under the Fair Use Doctrine*
     The last regular season game for this senior class is here.  We have come a long way through ups and downs but this last regular season game is going to be the most important one...because it's the next one.  We just got done visiting the Cowboy's Stadium to let the guys and coaches who haven't played there before see it.  This is so during the game we are used to it and not ooooing and ahhhing.  I have played in Jerry World a couple of times and it still amazes me when I walk on the field.  It makes you feel like you are in the NFL.  It has been a blast to play in this stadium and I hope to finish it up on a high note tomorrow.  Baylor comes in having just beaten the number 1 team in the country and are now looking to become bowl eligible.  They bring a high flying offense with great speed and finess.  We have to come in and gain our confidence back early.  Defense has to not give up big plays and tackle in open space.  Both teams will be ready and fired up to play this game.  Baylor knocked us out of the bowl picture last year, and now we hope to return the favor...  Time to finish strong...

-Student of the Game
#FinishStrong

Monday, November 19, 2012

Everything That Could Go Wrong... Did


     Well everything that could go wrong did.  It was yet another embarrassing loss that turned into a blowout.  But the reasons that got us to the end result were nothing extraordinary.  I felt like we were ready to play and felt great after going through pre-game.  However, no matter how hard you try you can't get excited or gain momentum when there is nothing going your way.  We were out executed and gave up every big play possible.  As a defense we couldn't seem to stop the run or the deep pass.  I dropped an interception and gave up a flea flicker so I'm just as much to blame as anyone.  The effort was there but something was missing.  For the first time this year we were trying too hard to make something happen and trying to do our own thing or other people's assignment.  We have to look in the mirror as players and coaches in order to figure out what individually what we need to do in order for us to come out with a win this game.  We need to get back on track, trust the game plan, and get this win for the last regular season game.

-Student of the Game
#FinishStrong

Friday, November 16, 2012

Game Week 11: OSU

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     The Oklahoma State Cowboys. Last year they embarrassed us in our own stadium on wounded warrior day and senior day. But this is a new year. This game has huge Big 12 implications and we must win this game to put ourselves ahead of the cowboys in conference. We have a big challenge with another road game. I think we play better on the road because the atmosphere doesn't allow us to relax. We must come out fast and continue to finish strong. On defense we must be able to line up and get adjusted. If we are on the same page and don't get out of wack we will be fine. This will be a balanced attack and be tested both in the air and on the ground. We must keep pushing ourselves and come out with a win. The season is wearing on both players and coaches this time of year. Bodies are getting worn out and the grind is definitely taking it's tole. Mentally and physically we must push through fatigue and focus on the task at hand. One day... one game... one play at a time.

-Student of the Game
#WreckOSU

Monday, November 12, 2012

Senior Day Victory!

Me and my fiancee, dad, and aunt. Mom was taking picture.

     Phew!  That was too close for comfort, but all that counts is that we got the W.  It was my last game in Jones AT&T Stadium and I can't believe it came and went so fast.  I will have great memories of my games here and will be back many times in the future, but I will only be a fan from now on.  It was great to be a part of senior day and be recognized for all of my hard work.  My mom, dad, aunt, and fiancee got to meet me out on the field and received flowers and a customized game ball.  I was proud of them for not crying... but I guess they are saving that for after the bowl game.  I wondered if we were gonna get trampled by the new horse running out, but thankfully that didn't happen.  They said they controlled the new horse and didn't let it run full speed, so I think it did pretty good!  I guess I can add that I have been through a mascot change as well in my time here... Anyway back to the game.  We came out strong the first quarter and just as we were starting to put them away, we turned the ball over and from then on it was a dog fight.  We couldn't force a turnover and again we couldn't make adjustments when we needed to.  I was proud that we continued to scrap and claw every play and ended up on top of an ugly win but a win none the less.  I was happy to end with a win for my last home game, but we have to improve and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.  We have a huge road game with big bowl game implications this week.  We have to come ready to play!  Only six practices left in the regular season... Let's finish strong... 

-Student of the Game
#FarewellToTheJones

Friday, November 09, 2012

Game Week 10: Kansas

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     My final game in Jones AT&T Stadium is here! It is senior day and we will be recognized for all of the blood, sweat, and tears we have given Texas Tech during our time here.  After watching four years worth of seniors go before me it is hard to believe it is now my turn.  It will definitely be surreal when I run out onto the field and hear my name announced.  As our lasts start to become reality, the feelings of things coming to an end start to creep in... However, now is not the time to reflect and we have a season to finish.  I want to go out with a bang!  Kansas comes in with a losing streak, but they have played a lot of teams really close and should have won many of them.  They come in with a strong running attack and mix in some deep passes.  We have to shut down the run and not give up big plays.  The Jayhawks are a physical team and will try and hit us in the mouth early.  We must come out strong, fast, and hard... get our confidence back... and come out with the W! Shout out to all the seniors. Let's rock the Jones for the last time!

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Monday, November 05, 2012

Too Little... Too Late...


     That was a tough loss to swallow... not just because it was my last chance to play them, but because we are so close to meeting our true potential.  We came out ready to play but we didn't have any big plays early to get us going and excited.  Our defense was prepared to stop the run and left our pass vulnerable, which the longhorns took advantage of.  We just gave up too many big plays and that's why we lost.  We made some adjustments on defense in the second half and shut them down for only one touchdown, and that was because of bad alignment and bad communication that entire drive.  But the adjustments and the offensive comeback was too little, too late.  That was one of those games where you just hate to watch the film.  We just gave them too much early and couldn't recover.  The ball just didn't bounce our way, but that's how life is sometimes.  That one is going to sting as well it should...but like every week we must learn from it, forget about it, and move on... The college football cycle.

-Student of the Game
#RaiderNation

Friday, November 02, 2012

Game Week 9: UT

*Logo covered under the Fair Use Doctrine*
     The last time I get to play the University of Texas!  You know it's funny how things change.  I was once a UT fan like many kids are growing up in the state of Texas.  I actually had a small stuffed bevo mascot like the one above that I had with me at all times as a youngster.  The influence was my parents.  My mom graduated from UT and my dad graduated from Tarleton State.  Well our family was based in Stephenville, TX where Tarleton State was and my family used to be longhorns fans based on my mom's past... Having not known any better and having no affiliations with other colleges, I had no choice.  But now things have changed.  We have been saved and transformed by the Texas Tech family!  Lol I just had to say that, but really Texas Tech was the perfect opportunity for me with a great community, great school, and a chance to play on a great team.  We have a new root in Lubbock, TX and are now red and black forever.  Now as I come up to the UT game for my last time I cannot waste this last opportunity to get the better of the longhorns.  As a freshman red shirting, I watched from the sideline Crabtree made the winning play against UT and later rushed the field.  Well we haven't beaten Texas since then and we have another great opportunity ahead of us this week.  The longhorns are very talented as always and try and beat you with speed and confusion.  They motion and give a ton of different formations to try to distract and trick you.  We must line up, get adjusted, and stop the run.  The fans are behind us and it is now time to take a run at these last four games one at a time.  Time to go to work and rock the Jones!

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot


     That was a tough and disappointing loss to Kansas State.  We came out playing good the first half but everything fell apart the second half.  We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot... they made adjustments and we didn't respond, we put ourselves in bad situations, and overall they just out executed us.  On defense we have to find a way to create turnovers and know are assignments inside and out.  I had one of the worst games when it comes to tackling than I have had in a long time.  I was overrunning a lot of tackles and maybe just trying to do to much.  The story of the game was that they didn't make mistakes and when we did, they capitalized on them.  All credit goes to Kansas State and I wish them the best of luck on the road ahead.  We have to learn from this game and then forget about it.  This is still a promising team and we have a lot to play for.  The final stretch of games is here.  All we can do is continue to push hard.  We have worked too hard and long to let another game slip.  The leaders on this team must step up and help this team respond to a loss just like we did last time... and win another big game in the Jones!

-Student of the Game
#blessed

Friday, October 26, 2012

Game Week 8: Kansas State

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     The biggest game because it's the next one.  Another road test awaits as we head to Kansas State to take on another Heisman hopeful.  After TCU, me must redeem ourselves as a defense and come into this game with a better understanding of the game plan.  We have to get the call, get lined up, and ready to play.  They are a blue collar kind of team and it shows in their offense.  The wildcats bring a great running attack and force you to play the run and then try and catch you off guard with the play action.  This will be a physical game and I am excited to take on another ranked team in the national spotlight.  "You have to want to be successful as much as you want air when you can't breath."  Whoever wants it more will win this game... Time to go to work.

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Monday, October 22, 2012

Surviving to become Bowl Eligible


     The game lived up to the hype!  The atmosphere was great, the smack talk was present, and it ended up being a triple overtime thriller.  A little too thrilling!  This was one of the most emotionally and physically exhausting games I have been a part of.  All credit goes to TCU, whom showed up ready to play and were a step ahead of us most of the game.  We were focused and ready to play, but something about us was flat for most of the first half.  I don't know what it was but adversity sure did hit us hard and fast.  All three sides of the ball were struggling.  On defense, we had too much confusion and weren't ready for some of the formations they were giving us.  I was very impressed with Boykin as he seemed to have improved each game he has started.  He definitely didn't give us defensive backs much time to break on the ball as it would get to the wide receiver immediately after they cut.  The game was back and fourth wearing on for what seemed like forever.  Nevertheless, we just kept fighting and never gave up... when it came down to it we made plays when we needed to and came out with the victory.  This might not have been our best game, but you really find out what your team is made of when stuff starts going bad and you hit adversity.  We stuck together, nobody pointed fingers or got down, and we just kept grinding.

     Now the monkey is off our back and we are now bowl eligible.  That being said we have bigger goals in mind.  Now we don't have to worry about that and we can really pin our ears back and go after this final stretch of our schedule and leave it all out on the field.  We have another huge game this week on the road traveling to Kansas State for another new stadium for me to play in.  We must pull together, refresh our mind, and come ready to work.  On to the next one...

-Student of the Game
#ToGodBeTheGlory

Friday, October 19, 2012

Game Week 7: TCU

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     The TCU game is here and there are a lot of people who have been waiting for this game a long time.  We are excited to play TCU on their home turf for the first time as a Big 12 opponent.  This is supposed to be a new in state rivalry... and the buzz around the game certainly makes it feel like one.  There has already been plenty of trash talking, fan arguments, and a mutual hatred for the other team.  Also there are some hard feelings between opposing coaches and players which just adds to the environment.  A sold out stadium is the final piece that will make this a big time game.  But as always when it comes down to it the team that will win is the one that is ready to play, giving great effort, and executing technique.  We can't let emotions and the atmosphere get to us.  TCU is playing a quarterback which will be a dual threat both throwing and scrambling.  We must contain him and force him to be one dimensional.  They are very fast at their skilled positions and tackling in the open field will be another key to winning.  We have to take it one game, one series, and one play at a time.  Something will go bad on Saturday, but it is how we react that will make the difference in the game.  I'm excited, focused, and ready.  All the preparations have been put in... Now it's time to play...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ask An Athlete #4: Balancing School and Football


     The fourth segment of Ask An Athlete is finally here!  Laura Weiss, student at Texas Tech University, comes to me with this question... "how do you (and have) balance school and football? What are your secrets to be successful in both? My nephew is a freshman at a large university in the Big 12. I'd like to be able to give him some pointers on how to balance his academics, and involvement in the baseball team."  Great question Laura.

     Being a student-athlete is becoming more and more like a full time job in these days.  You get paid (through scholarship) and are expected to perform both on the field and in the class room.  You also have more responsibility and are held to higher expectations than regular students.  Regardless of sport, being a student-athlete is a year round commitment   Some people are surprised when I tell them that we have spring football and have to workout during the summer.  I guess some people actually think we just show up for football for two a days and are done at the end of the season.  We are always doing something... football season in the fall, into off-season and spring football, then into summer workouts, and the cycle continues.  We get Christmas break depending on the bowl game and May break when school is out, but other than that we are preparing for another season!  I'm sure other sports are the same way.  The reason I can balance my school and football is simply hard work and time management.  My parents were always strict on me about school and sports, so they taught me early on to manage my time and be great at both.  My mom was also a teacher at my high school, so I had no choice but to keep my grades high!  So I guess I have it ingrained into me a little bit.  But, I have taken that with me into college.  The main factor to success in the classroom is effort.  You have to discipline yourself to go to class, be active in discussions, meet the teacher, study, and work just as hard in the classroom as you do on the field.  This is sometimes hard with the time constraints we have and being physically and mentally tired from football.  This is why we have more support than most students.  Student-athletes have a lot of resources they can use such as advisors, tutors, and athlete academic centers.  So if I could give your nephew a few pointers, I would tell him to work hard and take control of his academics.  Don't expect the advisors of thousands of kids make the best decision for you.  I have heard and seen too many students say the advisor messed up and made them take a class they didn't need.  Well you should know what classes you need to graduate.  So research what you want to do, take control of your schedule/plan, and keep focused.  Then just keep up with your studies and don't let it fall behind.  Manage your time and please get your degree!

     In order to get an idea of the time constraints on a Student-Athlete I collected some data on my time spent during the New Mexico game week.  I kept track of all the time spent doing football, class, homework, leisure, and other activities each day out of the entire 24 hours.  "Mandatory Football" includes the NCAA regulated 20 hours of mandatory practice, meetings, and weight room workouts.  I kept track of the duration of these activities and recorded the data.  "Voluntary Football" is the time spent by myself doing extras like watching film, treatment, being in the locker-room (ping pong Lol), and eating at the dining hall.  Basically I started the timer when I parked at the football facility and stopped it when I left the dining hall (we eat right after practice) and then subtracted the mandatory time.  Our coaches and staff do a great job of keeping time within the NCAA regulations.  But as competitive players being from a Big 12 program and wanting to excel on the field, we know we need to put in extra time on our own in order to be great.  "Class" is time spent up at the school in class.  I am currently a grad school student with only 6 hours of classroom time and taking a 3 hour self study course.  Therefore my classroom time will probably be less than most student-athletes, but with more time spent doing homework.  "Homework" and "leisure" are self explanatory.  "Other" is anything like church, eating, chores, or traveling time.  Here are my findings...Enjoy:

Charts made with Microsoft Excel:



-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bringing the Mountaineers Back Down to Earth


     Shock and awe! Well that's how everybody outside of the locker room felt.  We on the other hand had confidence in our ability and were excited for this game.  A top 5 team, new to the Big 12, and a player who is a Heisman hopeful... we were ready to play.  West Virginia maybe came in a little over confident.  I usually don't say anything bad about opponents, but this was by far the most cocky and arrogant team (ON THE FIELD) I have ever faced both watching film and in person.  I'm not talking about off the field or their character, but how they play the game.  I have played a lot of football too, so I think that says something.  I might be wrong, but that's how I saw it.  Everyone has an attitude playing football, but it seemed to be more than that.  From Eugene Smith not shaking hands at the coin toss and waving us off to Tavon Austin doing his strut after every single catch he made, they were all about Me, Myself, and I... but the best TEAM won the game.  We came in with a great game plan and executed well on all sides of the ball.  Offense, defense, special teams, and sideline were all into the game and contributed to the victory.  The media has informed me of some accomplishments and they love these kind of the stats, but the reason behind these are nothing special and credit goes to many people other than me.  I have surpassed 300 tackles, but I think that's because I have been here too long!  The coaches have also made a big emphasis on tackling in practice.  I also have received the Big 12 Player of the Week, and I have to give all the credit to God, the coaching staff, and the rest of the Chain Gang.  Overall, this was a much needed great win at home.

     I was personally not surprised at the outcome.  I know what this team is made of and the potential that we have.  I'm more confident in my team than I have been since I have been here.  However, potential is a big word and never has anything to do with results.  We have a long way to go and a lot of improvement still to make.  We have to learn from last year (OU win) and not let this big win be our last.  The Big 12 is tougher than ever, and we must take it week by week. Just another day on the job... On to the next game.

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Friday, October 12, 2012

Game Week 6: West Virginia

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Game week number 6! West Virginia comes in with a bunch of hype and it will be another first for them in the Big 12 as they make the long trip to Lubbock, Texas. We have another big challenge and another big opportunity. The media always asks how we feel coming into a game with a high ranked team with a heisman hopeful... and they act surprised when we say we are excited! If you are a true competitor, you want to face these kind of teams and players. I'm ready to see how our defense responds to the rough game last week and another challenge this week. We must bounce back and take one play at a time. West Virginia brings a balanced attack and bases their offense off speed. They have a bunch of Jakeem Grant's running around and we will have to limit yards after catch. Defense has to swarm to the ball and get off the field. The Jones will be rocking, but we have to give the fans something to cheer about. Time to play a great game in front of the home crowd...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Having a Short Memory


     One thing you have to have in this game is a short memory.  This was a tough loss to OU... Our hopes were high and we were confident that we were going to make a statement in this game with a big win.  But things don't always go as planned.  We got out played, out coached, and out executed.  I don't know all the reasons why, but watching the film I think everyone felt like that was not our true team out there.  We weren't as excited and didn't run to the ball as good on defense.  But when you play college football, in the Big 12, and play defense in general you must have a short memory.  Someone will make a big play against you if your in this league long enough.  Saturday, I lunged for a tackle instead of running my feet through and it resulted in a missed tackle for a big play.  These types of plays have happened to me before and they will probably happen again... but the important thing is what you are going to do the next play.  I just had to put that behind me and try and make up for it in the upcoming plays.  That is what we are going to do with this game also.  We have to learn from our mistakes, put it behind us, and keep moving forward.

     Fortunately in football, both glory and shame are short lived.  Whether it is the biggest win in school history or the worst defeat, the result only lasts until the next day.  The sun will rise and the game is somewhere in history, but it is only the here and now that matters.  It is all about what you are going to do next year, next game, next play.  Always looking to the future.  We are back to work this week and face West Virginia back on our home turf.  We are still confident in our team and look forward to the challenge that comes this week! On to the next one...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Friday, October 05, 2012

Game Week 5: OU

*Logo use covered under Fair Use Doctrine*
     Everywhere you look there are statistics of this game... The offensive, defensive, overall rankings... The last time OU has won here... How many Big 12 games we have lost at home...As a player you can't help but hear them as the media and fans bombard you with this information.  We hear all this, but we are smart enough not to listen!  Statistics are never right, preseason rankings go down the drain and predictions often fail.  The only statistics I am ever interested in is the ones at the end of the year.  All the rankings and hype are for entertainment.  We must come out every week focused and ready to play because it is all about us.  If we play great we can beat any team in the country, and when we play bad any team can beat us.  When it comes down to it, there is going to be a football game on Saturday October 6th in Jones AT&T Stadium... as simple as that.

     This game week will bring another great test for team.  The environment is going to be off the charts!  The Jones will be blacked out and the biggest crowd in the history of Texas Tech football is set to be there.  The young players will have to calm down and get used to the excitement in order for it not to affect their play negatively.  Some players think they have to play above themselves for a big game, but all you have to do is execute your job.  The fans help us to gain momentum in the game and also provide an intimidating environment.  We are getting into the meat of our schedule but this next game is the only one that matters.  As our opponents improve, so must we.  The passing defense will face it's greatest test yet but the main focus like always will be to stop the run.  I am excited to see where we are as a team and defense, now it's time to take the test!

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fighting Adversity for a Big Win


     Adversity is inevitable in the Big 12 conference and in football in general.  I have been talking about facing it in my blogs and it finally reared its ugly head.  We came into a hostile environment and faced a team looking to make a statement and continue to build on their program.  Talk about a rough game, we didn't play great as a team to say the least and it felt like we were fighting from behind the entire game.  This was the first true test to see how our team would react in this situation.  There was frustration, as to be expected, but I was impressed at how our team kept pressing forward and didn't get discouraged.  We didn't worry about all the bad stuff that was happening, instead we just went out there series after series and focused on our job.  If you do that, the results will take care of itself... and they did.  We came out with the hard road win and started off Big 12 1-0!

     The Chain Gang came up with one of the biggest contributions to a Texas Tech win since I have been here.  Almost every drive seemed critical when it is that close of a game, and we felt the pressure to stop the cyclones each and every time.  We finally met our goal for turnovers per game and held the offense to only six points.  We always say that if we don't let them score we will win, and this is the closest we have been to that. It was already unacceptable to lose to Iowa State twice in a row, much less three time...but that was averted and we got the monkey off our backs.  It was a great feeling to finally come out of Ames with a victory and it was definitely a hard fought win.  We upheld our number 1 ranking on defense, but the teams keep getting better as the year goes on.  Up next, Oklahoma... Time to bring the party back to the Jones!

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

PS. Check out Corn Dog charming the reporter... lol.
Video from YouTube:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Game Week 4: Iowa State

*Logo use covered under Fair Use Doctrine*
     Big 12 opener is here! We open up conference play at Iowa State, and a game we have been looking forward to for a long time. The past two years we have been beaten and embarrased by the cyclones. This is unacceptable. But the past is history and this is a new year. We are where we want to be headed into this game... Winning how we are supposed to win, improving each week, and taking one game at a time. Now its time for the next one. Iowa State is the best opponent we have seen so far. They will challenge us more bringing the most passes so far, a faster tempo, and more like the offenses we will see from here on out. This road game will bring a hostile crowd and a strong resolve for the home team. This will be a true test for how we will handle adversity and where we are as a team. Time to see where we are...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Off week... Here and Gone


     The off week for the whole year is here and now gone.  A lot of people wonder what happens during the off week and how it affects the team and players.  Off week is what you make of it.  We can either come in focused on getting better each day and compete or come in unfocused and not get anything done.  It is up to the seniors and upperclassmen to lead by example and to have the right mind set on off week.  With it being so early this year, it is bitter sweet.  We are not as fatigued and beat up at this time of year, so the practices are harder than they would be on a later off week.  Harder when it comes to length, physicality, and extra conditioning.  We also get less time off comparatively speaking.  I wonder what statistics say about having an off week earlier or later, whether records show a correlation... Random thought, but if I had to guess I would say it doesn't matter.  The season is going to be a long hard journey either way.  You just have to adjust how you use the off week and it is always what you make of it.  But as student-athletes on a nonstop schedule and to do list, we will take a break any way we can get it!

     Practices were good and we focused on fundamentals, went against the offense more than a usual game week, and briefly introduced Iowa State.  It is good to get to go against the offense more and get a better feel of the true game speed we will face.  When going against scout team, it is easy to go through the motions and let your technique and fundamentals get rusty.  Also, this brings more competition and makes the practices more fun.  We are playing football for fun...right?!  Lol.  It was great to have a day or two off and spend time by ourselves and getting caught up in school.  Now that we are into another game week, we are headed into a nine week grind of Big 12 Conference play.  Everybody in this league is good, and as shown in these first few weeks there is little that separates us.  This means that it will come down to the details and the will to win if you want to conquer this schedule.  But, the only focus we have now is one game at a time... and our challenge for this week is Iowa State.  Both teams are rested and hungry.  We are looking to right the wrongs, and they are looking to make a statement.  Time to get to work...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang


-What do you want to see a post about? 
Get inside my mind and ask the tough questions over on the Ask An Athlete section of my blog.  If it is a good question, I will answer it in a blog post and give you a shout out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TTU Chain Gang


     CHAIN GANG!  As the Texas Tech Defense for 2012, coming off the worst year one could ever imagine, we wanted to be something special and we wanted to come up with something that we could unify around and draw strength from.  A name that could symbolize a new year and a different mindset.  We came up with "Chain Gang".  A chain gang is a group of people linked together in order to accomplish a physically and mentally challenging goal.  This represents us as a defense this year.  We are all in this connected together and we must work as one if we want to accomplish our goal.  Every link in the chain and every person on this defense is important.  My teammates, like in a chain gang, are diverse... from different backgrounds, ethnicity, experiences, and culture.  However, we must put our egos and pride aside in order to have respect for the man playing next to you.  All players must accept their role in the defense while still competing with each other for playing time.  This long and hard football season will challenge us mentally and physically to the point of breaking, but we must hold each other together.  The red chain will be rewarded to the player of the week to keep and take care.  He will take it with him until he gives it to the defensive captain for the game which is announced on Friday.  The red chain will go with us everywhere and will be a constant reminder of the goal and expectations we have set for ourselves.  The goal is the Big 12 championship and the motto we will live by is, "Separate we achieve nothing... Together we conquer all!"

     We are off to a great start and are only looking ahead.  New Mexico brought us some challenges when it came to assignments, and we gave up one long drive which ended in a touchdown.  You can tell when they stretch out a defense and make them play assignments by the end stats... three players tied for top tackler and only had 5 a piece.  However, we were able to make some adjustments and finish strong on our non conference schedule.  Now 3-0, we are the second ranked defense in the country.  I want to keep it that way!  We now have an off week to brush up on our technique and get everyone healthy.  Now it is on to conference and a true test of where we stand.  Iowa State has beaten us the last two years and that does not sit well with us.  But regardless of the situation the game is about us and where we are as a team.  I think we are ready to step up to the occasion and take another step towards our goal...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang


Friday, September 14, 2012

Game Week 3 : New Mexico

*Logo use covered under Fair Use Doctrine*
Game week number 3, back in the Jones! This is our last test before we start our conference play. New Mexico brings the huddle and possession style offense. 27 passes in two games tells the whole story. They will run the option which spreads out the defense and make us play assignment style football. They will just try to get first downs and keep our offense off the field. Against Texas last week, New Mexico had twice as much time of possession in the first half. We will have to get off the field and continue to improve on turnovers. Overall, I think we have had another great week of preparation and we are ready to go out and play our best game of the year. My focus for this game is to continue to improve on my technique and get to the ball in a bad mood. I will try and force another turnover and get some big hits. But like every game the number one focus and goal is to win, personal stats have no meaning if you lose. Play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. That is hard for some because of their competitive side and desire to be the best. However, a true TEAM is what it is going to take to accomplish our goal. "Separate we achieve nothing... Together we conquer all!"

Also, be on the lookout for the red chain... More on that in next week's blog.

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Monday, September 10, 2012

Breaking in the New Bobcat Stadium


     We broke in the newly renovated stadium and brought the Bobcats back down to earth with our W for week 2.  After a week of trash talking and blowing smoke, we made Texas State eat their words pretty fast.  Like any other road game, there will be adversity come against us.  This adversity came early on in the game.  After a couple of bad plays by the offense, which ended in a turnover, the momentum was with Texas State and the crowd was going crazy.  The Bobcats had the ball with a short field and the crowd behind them.  I knew we had to stop them from scoring and at least hold them to a field goal.  This is always our mindset heading out after a sudden change of possession.  I read the offensive line, dropped back in coverage, and boom... jumped the route and was off to the races.  My first touchdown of my college career!  Many asked me how it felt, or what was going through my mind as I ran.  Honestly, I couldn't tell you.  It was just a blur and all I thought about was getting to the end zone.  That was the craziest feeling of my career... I was dead tired, nerves off the wall, and was ecstatic about the big play.  I actually threw up due to all the fluids in my stomach and the adrenaline of such a game changing interception.  All credit goes to my defensive teammates out blocking in front and running.  If you watch the video below, everyone blocks and is in the end zone within a couple of seconds of me scoring.  But I was more than happy to be the first to score in their newly renovated stadium.  After this initial surge was avoided, the rest of the game flowed smoothly.  

     Overall, we were fired up and ready for this game.  We were going to be ready to play either way, but all the disrespectful talking just added fuel to the fire.  All sides of the ball were doing great: offense, defense, special teams, and sideline.  I feel like I didn't tackle very good this game and made a critical mistake on a missed tackle on a third down play.  But I graded out good, earned player of the week again, and most of all got the win!  We are now 2-0.  Looking forward to the next game and hungry to improve...  God Bless

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang

Videos from YouTube:



Friday, September 07, 2012

Game Week 2 : Texas State

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     A new Texas rivalry is born? Hmm.  Well I don't know if I agree with that comment, but I do know this... it is game week 2 and we have another business trip on our hands.  All the hype and smoke blowing done within the media and in newspapers doesn't change the fact it is a football game.  Heck the media will probably try and quote this to stir up some more fire, but the reality is that both teams are ready to play regardless.  We are headed to our first road game and with that it presents new challenges.  New players getting used to the travel, plane, hotel, and staying focused through it all.  Also, the momentum of play is always harder to maintain at an away stadium.  Personally though, I love the away game atmosphere... all the "boo"s, fans talking trash, and even throwing stuff at you.  The more the better!  There is nothing like the silence of the away stadium when you make a big play.  Momentum has to come from your teammates and the excitement on the sideline.  This is four times as important at away games than at the Jones.  But other than that we have prepared and are headed into this game like any other.

     Texas State brings another different style offense than we are used to in the Big 12.  They will be more aggressive and throw the ball more than we saw last week, but still be anchored in the run and big personnel.  Another test for our defense and we will have to play assignment style football in order to make the right fits against the option.  We have had a good week of preparation, and as the captain for this weeks game I am ready to lead my team out on to the field.  Time to go to work...

-Student of the Game
#TTUChainGang