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

*Logo covered under the Fair Use Doctrine*
     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

*Logo covered under the Fair Use Doctrine*
     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

*Logo use covered under Fair Use Doctrine*
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: