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...
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...
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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...
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.
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
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...
The best possible start is one that ends in a victory. We are now 1-0 and looking forward to our next game. The first game of the season is always hectic... First time players' nerves are off the charts and the returning players are not far behind them, the atmosphere and crowd noise affect communication and emotions, and all the mistakes are bound to happen the first time out. This makes you have to focus that much harder. I remember my first ever game I played at Texas Tech. My nerves were going crazy and I knew I wanted to make a great first impression. I was so excited and juiced up that on the first play I was running to the ball and I just wanted to hit something, so I hit a receiver on the ground about the time someone else made the tackle. I got a 15 yard penalty for unnecessary roughness! Lol, great first impression. Anyway, so I understand what the new players were going through. It takes this first game to control your adrenaline and calm down enough to focus on assignment, alignment, and technique. However, this was one of the best first games I have been a part of in a while.
The stadium atmosphere is the first thing you notice when you are about to play a game. Your adrenaline is going and you want the fans to match it... and the Jones delivered! The fans were out in force and the crowd involvement was great. Also, the fireworks was a great addition to the Jones and I hope to set them off this year. We were ready to make a statement, and that's what we did. The defense was focused and had an excitement on the field I haven't seen in two years. Everyone was swarming the ball, making plays, and having fun doing it. I was fortunate enough to receive the "Player of the Week" on defense, but there were a lot of other players that could have gotten it. The focus coming into the game was on us, and doing the best we could do. After game 1, we are the number 2 ranked defense in the country. This is a great start, but we still have a long way to go. We must learn from our mistakes, forget this game, and continue to improve. Once all said and done we got what we wanted from this game... a W. Now on to the next one.
The first game... This is the week everything comes together. After the long hard camp, it is almost surprising that game week is finally here. The blur of camp brings upon this week and you try and turn your focus into game preparation and get your legs back under you. This is what we have been working for since November 26th after our season was ended without a bowl game. All the preparation, work outs, film study, blood, sweat, and tears is all for us to do one thing... WIN. The first game is always gut wrenching. I have gone through in my head a million times how the game will go. Me making the big hit, interception, and forced fumble. I imagine the atmosphere, the fans, the excitement but nothing can prepare you for it. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I want to make a great first impression and not make a mistake. Making a mistake or much more to lose a game is like eight months of hard work down the drain. I have put in a lot of work and effort into making this team and myself succeed. When you have that much invested, it makes game day that much more critical. But when it comes down to it, that's the way football is. A whole year of work and preparation for thirteen tests of your team's ability. I'm not going to let one go to waste this year. I'm going to go out there and give everything I have... be a fearless champion... and let the chips fall where they may.