LSU first-team All-SEC punter Patrick Fisher wrote a daily blog for LSUsports.net leading up to the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7. Fisher, a native of Kensington, Md., gave a unique, in-depth perspective that chronicled LSU’s preparations up to the showdown with Ohio State.
Editor's Note: LSUsports.net would like to thank Patrick for his contributions to the website during this amazing time to be a Tigers fan. Patrick is not only a great punter at LSU, but he's also a model student-athlete. His blog is just the latest example of his dedication to the school that he loves -- and the one that loves him. Thanks again for the memories, Patrick.
Day 20: Tuesday, January 8, 2008
We did it! We did it! I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am right now or how elated it feels to be the 2007 BCS National Champions. Everything we have worked towards the entire year has come true and we are sitting on top of the world. I don’t even think it has hit me yet and probably won’t for a couple weeks.
It is such an overwhelming feeling to end my career here at LSU with two National Championships, let alone all the memories that I will treasure for many many years once my playing days are well over. I couldn’t have written a better script for a career and am so thankful and blessed to have been given this opportunity to play this game.
It was just a rush last night as the clock wound down and I finally knew that won. The game moved pretty quickly last night from what I remember. I was really happy with how the team played and how everyone came out to do their part. We didn’t start off as well as we had hoped, but once we stopped their initial surge we got down to playing LSU football and went about things how only we know how.
Following the game, to hold that crystal ball on stage was something I will never forget. It truly was bliss. We carried on the party well into the night and had a great time with my teammates, family and friends.
I never could have done this alone and I owe thanks to the people in my life who have touched me and made a positive impact on my career here at LSU.
First, I would like to thank God for granting me the ability to play this game. Through him all things are possible. Thanks to my parents, Peter and Mary Fisher, for instilling good values and a great work ethic in me since birth, while pointing me in the right direction in life towards becoming the man I am today.
Next I would like to thank my brother and best friend James. You are my #1 fan and have been there for me through all the ups and downs. I can’t tell you how much your support has meant to me. Thanks to the rest of my family who have all played an integral role in my life. Without you all I would not be where I am today. I am so blessed to be so close with all of you and to have been able to form great relationships with the ones who mean the most to me.
Thanks to the administration at LSU for giving me the opportunity to attend such a great place. Thanks to Coach Saban and his coaching staff for bringing me into a program like LSU and Coach Miles and his coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to reach my full potential on the field.
To all of my former teammates, I love you all and you will all hold a special place in my heart. You are my brothers and I want to thank you all for bringing me into this family where we have accomplished so much on and off the field. I could never forget the great times we have shared in good and in bad, however through it all we leaned on each other and without us all this whole thing would not have been possible.
Thanks to the equipment, video, athletic training, and strength and conditioning staffs at LSU, as well as the workers upstairs. You all are the ones who make everything go in the football operations building. Thanks to Michael Bonnette and the LSU Sports Information staff for giving me the opportunity to work with you all over these past five years on the fifth floor. I love LSU and thank you for giving me the chance to see everything from the other side of the lens. In addition, I would like to thank everyone else who works in the athletic administration building, the office of the athletic director, business office, ticket office, compliance, facilities and game event management, LSU sports properties, marketing and promotions, and media publications.
We have all come together to do our part in bringing the title back to LSU. Thanks to the academic center and countless teachers at LSU who have had such a positive impact on my life from an academic standpoint. You have made me a well rounded student-athlete and ready to tackle business world once my playing days are over. Thanks to my fellow classmates and friends at LSU. You all have made my experience here in Baton Rouge better than I could have ever asked for. I won’t ever forget the good times we have shared.
Finally, I would like to thank you the fans of LSU. You all are the heartbeat of this program and take LSU football from just a game to a life changing experience. LSU football has become a culture in itself and I could not think of a better place to spend my college days than in Baton Rouge on a muggy Saturday night in the fall. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Words cannot begin to justify how special this place is to me and how much I will treasure what I have done in my time here for years and years to come.
Finally, I would like to thank you for joining me on this journey with the team through my BCS blog on our road to winning the 2007 BCS National Championship and becoming the kings of college football. May God bless you all. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 19: Monday, January 7, 2008
“Respect and honor, these two words are what we strive for as Tigers. These words bring us glory and redemption. We have earned the respect of everyone who has lined up across from us and gotten a taste of the way we play the game, the way we fight, the way we compete. Our work began exactly one year ago this night. One year ago we set our eyes on this prize. We have worked harder than anyone who plays football. And the opponents we are playing tonight have NO RESPECT for us. We will do what we do, which is work hard, determination, and an undying will to win to command respect and gain the ultimate honor of champions. The Eye of the Tiger is in us all, and tonight we let it loose. Tonight we win. Respect and honor for 60 minutes.”
As I woke up this morning and checked my phone while lying under the covers, I found these words in a text message from Robert Smith. He sent it to a bunch of my teammates and I and it has definitely set the tone for the day. This is one heck of a way to get people going at 9 a.m. I know it says a lot about who we are as a program here at LSU and what we are all about.
I slept alright last night compared to most guys. I think I only woke up three times in the middle of the night, constantly checking my clock and counting down the hours. It has been a lazy day consisting of mostly meetings and some last minute film work.
However, my family did come in town last night and I did get to spend a couple hours with them upstairs in the lobby. We sat on the couch and caught up on old times. It was so good to see them because they mean so much to me. Words can’t describe what it means to me to have the ones I love at such a monumental milestone in my life. Jim, Shannon and Reilly McGregor flew in from Marco Island, Florida. While my parents, Peter and Mary with my brother James flew in from Maryland. Even my cousin Tommy was able to get here, as well as my Uncle Bernie from Pennsylvania.
I need to get back to rocking out on my iPod and getting my mind right for what is about to take place, but before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog. Don’t forget to watch us tonight on Fox at 7 p.m. and cheer on LSU. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 18: Sunday, January 6, 2008
Hi Tiger Fans! The team is running on an adrenaline rush right now considering we just got done watching the epic movie 300 and with the game less than 24 hours away. We can all feel it building and can’t wait to hit the field tomorrow night. Everything we have been working towards these past 12 months is all about to come together in one 60 minute battle that will pit us vs. Ohio State for all the marbles.
We woke up this morning at about 10 a.m. and headed down to breakfast. It was nice to be able to sleep in a little bit and catch up on all the rest possible. I already know that some guys will probably have some trouble sleeping tonight so it’s important that we get the sleep in when possible.
Following our team meeting we headed off to the stadium where we had to change into our game uniform for a quick team picture on the field, only to be followed by individual position pictures and some senior portraits with coaches. This is always a good time because when we get to taking the end of year photos, I always know that the season is about to come to a close quicker than I would like. I think putting on your uniform and seeing that BCS bowl patch on your shoulder gives you just a sense of what you will feel when we come rushing out the tunnel tomorrow night. I can’t wait and the game can’t come soon enough.
I have never seen the team this excited to get in there and get after it. Everyone from the head man down to the redshirt freshmen are ready to go and handle business by bringing the title back to Baton Rouge and LSU in the process. I feel so confident and just want to carry it over all day tomorrow to lead me into the game. So much of this game is mental. Everyone on this level has the physical attributes to play this game, but I know that the mentally strong will far succeed those who are mentally incapable of handling what they have to do to elevate their game to the next level.
A quick change of clothes signaled the start of the team walk through. Everyday before the game the coaches make sure to get us off of our feet as much as possible. However, we can’t afford to lose that mental edge. This is where walking through the plays in just t-shirt and shorts are really good for the team. We don’t have footballs or even go half speed. Everyone knows what they have to do and this is just a mental run before the actual test. It starts with stretching then breaks up into special teams alignments. The offense and defense then get together and talk about some things on the field while lined up in different formations. After an hour the brief walk through ended up with us walking back on the bus for dinner.
Once we get about 48 hours from game time, things get to become pretty mundane around the team facilities. Most of the guys just hang around the hotel. Many of us often find ourselves lost in another world listening to our iPods for hours on end. Some read the paper or watch T.V., whatever it takes to get your mind zoned out for a little bit and give you some sense of normalcy with everything building up around you for the National Championship game.
I’m about to get to bed myself so I can visualize what I’m going to do in the game tomorrow to perform to the best of my abilities. Before I go I would like to thank-you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope you check back in soon as the team makes final preparations for our game tomorrow night. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 17: Saturday, January 5, 2008
The weekend is here and for most Tiger fans that means arriving to New Orleans for a good time leading up to the big game on Monday night. However, for the LSU football team, the fun is over and it’s time to clear out the distractions and really get to the task at hand.
We awoke to an early call to our rooms from the front desk and scampered downstairs to one of the ballrooms for breakfast. After a quick meal the meetings were off and running at 8:15 a.m. Instead of discussing a game plan or reviewing film, Coach Miles was instructing us about the media day that was about to ensue at the Louisiana Superdome.
As we arrived to the locker room everyone put on their game pants and jerseys and made their way to the field. As I came out of the tunnel I couldn’t help but noticed the throngs of media personal that were lining the sidelines in anticipation of our arrival. Nearly 1,000 media credentials were handed out for this event. Everyone from ESPN, USA Today, The New York Times to various local media outlets were all in attendance. You couldn’t help but instantly recognize people that you see on T.V. everyday, like Shelley Smith of ESPN, Lisa Salters of ESPN and Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe to senior writers who you read in the weekly edition of Sports Illustrated. Furthermore, I felt that everyone from the team did a great job of handling their media responsibilities this morning.
The LSU football team has been under a ton of media attention all year since people started talking about this season back in late spring. In addition, we as a team have not let it distract us and know that when it’s time to get down to business, we are able to block out distractions like the media or anything that would impede us from playing to our full potential and instead are able to bear down and focus on what’s important, playing for victory.
As a quick side note, former LSU quarterback Josh Booty of FoxSports.com and former LSU Head Coach Gerry Dinardo of the newly formed Big Ten Network were both in attendance. As much as the players and coaches on the current team took questions, so did these former Tigers. In fact, T-Bob Hebert, Will Arnold, Demetrius Byrd and I walked our way around and were asking questions to many of our current teammates and coaches. We were having fun causing some trouble and showing a lighter side of media day by getting some laughs from everyone in attendance with some off the wall questions.
One thing that sticks out is when I asked Coach Miles if I could get any snaps under center after that pass completion in the SEC Championship Game. When he said he didn’t think so I petitioned for some play at the wide receiver play in goal line situations since I was a “big time threat.” Overall it was a fun experience and something that everyone enjoyed, even the guys who despise doing interviews.
After 60 minutes, the clock wound down and we were off the field changing back into street clothes. As we walked to load up the buses, we saw Ohio State making their way to the field and having their stab at media day.
After a quick 30 minute nap in our rooms, it was back to business and the real meetings began. Thereafter we bused back to the Superdome for our last practice in pads. This was the one I was looking forward to the most, thanks in large part to a special tradition that takes place.
Everyday before practice starts, after we get some quick calisthenics and stretch in, someone is chosen to come to the front of the team and break it down with Tiger jacks, which are an LSU take on jumping jacks. Nevertheless, each Thursday this season I was given the opportunity to break it down this season. Instead of just calling it up, I give a quick speech to fire up the team and get them going. Yet on this day, I think everyone agreed it was one of the best breakdowns ever. We would go onto have one of our best practices all year long.
Another tradition that took place today was trading jerseys. Every year on the last day of practice, the players will all trade jerseys and wear someone else’s number. This has been going on for many years that preceded my time at LSU as I understand it and is just something fun that everyone takes part in. My snapper Jacob O'Hair and I swapped jerseys for the day, but the funniest was probably seeing Herman Johnson in a small Trindon Holliday top and vice versa. I don’t even think that No. 8 covered up past his belly button.
The quick go on the field was here and gone before everyone knew it and I then realized it was my last practice ever as an LSU Tiger. I didn’t seem to mind though because all I can think about is the game which is now less than 48 hours away. We are ready to go out and do the necessary things it will take to bring the title back to Baton Rouge.
As I showered back at the Marriott and changed clothes for dinner with my family, I recalled some of the great times I’ve had here as a Tiger these past five years. I came down the escalator to my family and countless friends. I couldn’t move 10 yards without running into great people who have supported this program for many years. I wanted to stay and talk with all them all night, but my family and I headed over to Serio’s Deli where we ran into many of the coaches and some fellow teammates for a small little get together. It was a great time in which I got to spend time with the people I really care about.
I’m back at the hotel now typing up my blog and I hear bed check calls are in 10 minutes. I’m going to get out of here and get a great night sleep. We don’t have to wake up till 10 a.m. tomorrow and I can’t stop thinking about how excited I am about sleeping in for my first time all week. Before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will check back in tomorrow to see how our final day of preparation went. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 16: Friday, January 4, 2008
Home Sweet Dome. Words cannot justify how great of a bowl experience we are having here in New Orleans in preparation for our game on Monday night. Everything is going really well from the practices to the planned team activities. This city has taken us in and truly made us feel at home. I cannot say enough about how great it feels to be back in the Crescent City and how excited everyone is for the game to finally get here. It can’t come soon enough.
As we awoke early this morning and loaded up on the team buses outside the team hotel, everyone was looking forward to heading over to the Hilton Riverside. Awaiting us inside one of the ballrooms was a crowd of well over 1,000 people for the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast. Also in attendance was our opponent Ohio State, however instead of sizing our opponents up, everyone was looking forward to sharing in the life changing experiences that the FCA has brought to many players on both teams. This organization is something all athletes in college and professionals have as a part of their organization to give praise to God, who makes all things possible through him.
The featured guest speaker at the event was Bobby Bowden, Head Football Coach of Florida State University, the all-time leader in wins in college football. Bowden is a great coach and has gone though so much in his life. Everyone listened intently to his words about how we need more role models in the world today. He would go on to say that we as college football players can fill that role and have a positive influence on youngsters who look up to many of us.
I agree whole heartedly that we can fill that purpose and act as a positive role model in our communities. Coaches are always stressing how we need to use our status in the area as a platform towards reaching little kids in a positive light. I have seen many guys on my team reach out to kids at local elementary schools in Baton Rouge these past five years and show them the necessary steps it will take to become successful in life.
Furthermore, Bowden would go onto say how a man’s character is much more important than his reputation. It takes seconds to garner a good reputation in a few quick acts, but years for good character. Character is something that is built up over time. Throughout Bowden’s speech I couldn’t help but think back to an old quote my uncle and high school coach Bill McGregor of DeMatha Catholic High School often referred to when addressing the team. “Class gets you to the top, but it’s your character that keeps you at the top.”
Before I knew it we were back in a team meeting at the hotel before heading off to practice. The New Orleans Police Department has been very helpful and provided us with a police escort all week wherever we go as to make sure we keep on our tight knit schedule. Practice went really well and I know everyone can’t wait until the game.
Upon returning to the hotel my parents, Peter and Mary Fisher, were there to greet me as I walked off the bus. They came in town for the game and I was excited to be able to spend the afternoon with them. We went down to the Riverwalk to go to the shops and get some fresh air. It was good to catch up with them and I could instantly tell how excited they were looking forward to having a good time in New Orleans. We reminisced about the past bowl games, but came to a consensus that there is no better site to play a game in than here in New Orleans.
As I got back to the hotel around 6 p.m., we said our good-bye’s and I went up the escalator to meet up with the team for our team dinner at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, just a few blocks from where we were staying. The food was awesome and mostly everyone got the 24 oz. prime rib with potato’s and creamed spinach after the shrimp cocktail appetizer and followed by the bananas foster bread pudding for dessert. Everyone was raving about how full they were on the walk back to the Marriott and how that meal ranked right up there with the best of them.
That has brought me to here, sitting in the players’ hospitality suite typing up my blog. I think everyone is staying in tonight to get the necessary rest it will take to play to our full potential and beat a quality opponent like Ohio State. I can’t stress how important it is to get off your feet and get a good sleep at night to let your body recover from all the stress that our muscles endure.
I’m going to head off to bed before it gets to late and find a movie to fall asleep to, but before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will check back in tomorrow to see how our last practice went before the big game. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 15: Thursday, January 3, 2008
Welcome back Tiger fans! It was another great day for the LSU football team. We have done so much already in this great city that I am almost in disbelief we have been here for less than 36 hours.
An early morning wake-up call to the players’ rooms at 6:50 a.m. signaled the start of our first full day here at the bowl site in New Orleans. After sleeping in for another 20 minutes after a fun time out on the town last night, I threw some clothes on and raced downstairs for breakfast followed by the team meeting at 7:45 a.m.
The New Orleans Marriott has done a fantastic job taking care of us and our needs as a team. From the great hospitality to the great southern cooking, we couldn’t ask for much more to feel like we are at home. In addition, to many of my fellow teammates growing up in New Orleans and the surrounding community, we all feel as if this city is our second home and the Louisiana Superdome is our second stadium. The locals always come out to support us like we were back in Baton Rouge at LSU.
As we loaded up the team buses in front of the hotel for practice, fans cheered us on downstairs in the hotel lobby. Practice went good as players flew around with more energy than I have ever witnessed before. The offense and defense constantly were going at it with great intensity, each pushing the other through all 24 periods. After watching today I am not at all nervous about any drop off in our play, even after not being in real game time action since the Southeastern Conference Championship in Atlanta, Ga.
Practice went rather smoothly in our transition to a new locker room thanks to our awesome equipment staff headed up by Greg Stringfellow. The managers are just as much a part of this program as the players who play on Saturday. They do so much behind the scenes that no one ever sees, but this organization would never be what it is if it was not for them. I have developed great relationships with many of them over the years like Kevin Nanney, Ben Bergeson, Nate Ledford and Stephen Starr. We are always striking up a conversation on the sideline during practice talking anything from football to life. They are some of my good friends and people who I always think about for years to come when referring to LSU football right along side of my fellow teammates and coaches.
We came back to the hotel after practice to pizza for lunch before heading up to our rooms to get cleaned up. After a quick change of clothes, some friends and I headed out to walk around the French Quarter to get out and take in some of the local culture. However, it didn’t last long as everyone quickly grew tired and headed back for a well deserved afternoon nap in our rooms. The team has definitely enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city, but we all know that we are here for one thing and one thing only, which is to beat Ohio State and win the National Championship. This is a business trip and as the game draws nearer distractions will lessen so we can focus on the task at hand.
“Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.” I suddenly awoke to the alarm clock going off. After trying to stay in bed till the very last minute, I realized I couldn’t procrastinate any longer and needed to head down to the hotel lobby to catch the bus with the team for dinner. It was definitely worth it after our delicious meal at Zea’s Rotisserie and Grill. Players dove into ribs, chicken, pasta, duck and red beans with rice. After about 20 minutes of gorging ourselves, we got some cheesecake dessert before heading back to our rooms.
As I sit here and write my daily blog I can’t help but keep closing my eyes after our first full day in New Orleans. I can definitely say it will be an early bed for many of the players with movies and the Orange Bowl on many people’s agendas. Curfew check is at midnight with another early wake up call at 7 a.m. when it’s back to practice at the Superdome in preparation for our game on Monday night.
A couple of the coaches will walk around with a list of players names each night that they are responsible for checking in. Then they turn it over to the policemen of this city who will stand at the elevators and doorways on each floor to make sure no one bothers us throughout the night. I can definitely tell a heightened level of security when the officer on my floor was holding onto the leash of his 70 pound German Sheppard. I feel confident that no one will bother us and we will all get the necessary rest it will take to beat a quality opponent like Ohio State.
I am falling over and am about to head to bed, but before I go I would like to encourage you to check out my BCS video blog here, on LSUsports.net so you can feel like a part of the action with the team through this exciting moment in LSU sports history. Thanks for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will check back in with me tomorrow. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 14: Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Hi Tiger Fans! I’m coming to you from the players hospitality suite at the Marriott on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. We have finally arrived to the “Big Easy.” It has been a very eventful day traveling from Baton Rouge this afternoon following practice.
It started off with an early morning wake up from my apartment when I then proceeded to make my way over to the complex. When I arrived a few minutes before our team meeting at 8 a.m., I quickly loaded all of my bags onto the truck that was hauling the players’ luggage to the team hotel.
Practice went rather quickly as everyone couldn’t stop talking about heading down to the bowl site later in the day. As we came off the field we were informed that Nike had given each player and coach a new black wind suit with a hint of yellow. Everyone decided that we should wear them as our team dress today to look sharp when we rolled up in the team buses, which are painted up with the BCS logo and tiger stripes in purple and gold on the side.
Before we could load up and head out from LSU, we had to review the film from the morning practice quickly with our position coaches. LSU also provided us with a bag lunch that included chicken sandwiches and a brownie for dessert.
When Coach Miles broke the team meeting after an inspirational video, everyone quickly scampered to the four team buses. I was not two feet out the door before I noticed that nearly 100 tiger fans had showed up, along with local media to wish the team off well on our journey. Times like these make you truly appreciate what it means to be apart of this program.
Everyone is assigned a different bus to load up with the travel squad offense on the first, the travel squad defense on the second, non-travel and redshirts on number three and the coaches’ families on number four. It didn’t take long for us to arrive in New Orleans thanks in large part to the police escort provided by the Louisiana State Troopers. The 12 troopers on motorcycles cut through traffic and cleared a path for smooth sailing down Interstate 10.
As I looked around the bus I couldn’t help but notice how many of my fellow teammates were passed out sleeping with the rest listening to music on their iPod’s. Almost every time we travel on the buses during game weekends, players have their usual seat that they like to occupy. This isn’t mandatory, but rather just a comfort thing that players don’t like to change to keep every thing consistent.
Furthermore, when we arrived outside the hotel and exited the team buses, the crowd had quadrupled into over 400 fans cheering us on and welcoming us to what we refer to as our second home, New Orleans. As I came up the escalator it didn’t take long for a local band to strike up a song and members of the Sugar Bowl Committee to shake our hands and tell us how happy they were that we had come to take part in this once in a lifetime experience.
Coach Miles addressed the team real quick and instructed players where to pick up our bags and room keys. As I entered my hotel room with my roommate and one of my best friends Colt David, we soon realized we had to quickly drop off our belongings and head to the top floor for a dinner reception. More music accompanied the awesome food and a few guys, including myself took part in karaoke onstage.
The time flew by and before we knew it, we were back downstairs in one of the ballrooms for a team meeting with coach and the New Orleans Police Department. They gave us some general guidelines to follow, while we visited the city and told us to stay out of trouble. However, everyone knows that this isn’t a vacation, but a business trip. We are here for one thing and one thing only, to win this game and be the 2007 National Champions of College Football.
I just got done changing clothes and am currently surrounded by teammates watching football games on T.V., playing Nintendo Wii as well as other video games that the Bowl Committee has provided for our entertainment.
I am about to head out and take in the town for a little bit with some friends. It won’t be long though with our curfew at 1 a.m. tonight and a 6:50 a.m. wake up call for practice early tomorrow morning. Before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog. Check back in tomorrow to see how our first practice in the Superdome went. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 13: Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Happy New Year’s Tiger Fans! I hope everyone had a great time last night bringing in 2008 with a bang. I know that everyone on the team sure did. The party was a huge success. It was my first time up in the suites on the West Side and they are really impressive. I can only imagine how much fun it must be to watch a game from up there.
Now for the details that I’m sure everyone is waiting is. As we arrived a little past 10 p.m., the DJ was already cranking out the beats in the stadium suites overlooking the field. It didn’t take long to start up dancing. About 30 players, including myself, got into the act. I saw some pretty good moves like a Michael Jackson moonwalk and some interesting ones as well, which will just go down as noble attempts.
Even Coach Miles got into the act when they played his song “Walk it Out” by DJ Unk. This isn’t the first time coach has broken it down before, I think I can recall last year’s Sugar Bowl as his coming out party. He’s a really good dancer and was teaching us younger guys how to get down on the dance floor.
Another highlight of the night included live entertainment from local group Black Venom. In addition to playing football for LSU, Marlon Favorite is an active member of the group and one of the lead singers. They just released another one of their albums recently and are already big on the underground circuit in Louisiana. Favorite is a good singer and performer, which is rare amongst most athletes. Most of us can’t sing worth a lick and would never think about pursuing an actual career out of it. Rather the rest of us just keep singing to inside the shower or at a local karaoke night around town. You can tell how much time and effort all those members of the band put into it and how deserving they are for whatever future successes they have yet to come their way.
Our fun night flew by before we knew it and everyone got on the bus afterwards to head over to the Lod Cook Hotel on campus, where everyone resided for the night. The coaches check each player in every time we stay at a hotel for curfew to make sure everyone is there and accounted for. They also hire local police to sit at all the entrances and keep a firm lockdown to make sure no one leaves or bothers us during our stay. When we woke up with our early morning wake up call, we took a shuttle back to get our car before heading home for a quick change. Workouts on the weights started as early as 10 a.m. Everyone assumed we would have practice following our 2 p.m. team meeting, but instead the coaches decided that we should get a well deserved day off to get off of our feet at home by sitting and watching the other games on T.V.
During the meeting, every player was handed a small booklet of about 20 pages describing in detail everything we would need to know before heading to New Orleans tomorrow. Clothes to pack, our daily schedule, team rules and information about the team hotel, which included a map of where each position would meet, were all included in the manual. Coach also named Demetrius Byrd the MVD or Most Valuable Dancer from last night, followed by some loud cheers.
Before we could leave to go home for the night, Coach Miles brought us out to the indoor facility. After a few brief words to the team, the permanent team captains for the year, as voted on by this year’s players and coaches, dropped two new banners on the wall. 2007 SEC West Champions and 2007 SEC Champions now adorn the wall near the south end zone. Glenn Dorsey, Craig Steltz, Matt Flynn, Jacob Hester and I were all very honored to represent the team and pull the ropes down releasing the banners in the small informal team ceremony.
It didn’t take long though for everyone to realize about how we could still drop one more before this season is over with a win next Monday night in the Superdome. Every time we have practice or I pass though the indoor, I look up at those championships and realize how fortunate I am to be able to play at a place like LSU.
I need to run home now and make sure I pack everything for the trip. We are having practice in the morning then heading down in the early afternoon. Before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will check back in with me tomorrow to see how everything is. Hope to see you all in New Orleans in the coming week. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 12: Monday, December 31, 2007
The countdown is on with only one week left until the biggest game in college football this season. Everyone in the program can definitely feel the excitement levels rising as the game draws nearer. The team is currently making its final preparations in Baton Rouge before heading down to New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon.
As with any big time college football program like here at LSU, there is a huge responsibility when hitting the road for a game, making sure that we bring everything that we will need as a team to operate for the entire week. The equipment managers have the responsibility of making a list and accounting for everything. This includes the helmets, jerseys, cleats and enough backups in case something happens. In addition, they pack up a small part of the weight room for workouts at the team hotel, anything the training staff would need from a medical standpoint and the video staffs cameras and projectors for film study throughout the week.
We are very fortunate to have the support of the Tiger Athletic Foundation who purchased a big 18 wheeler truck and trailer for us to carry everything in. It’s awesome to see this big rig parked outside the stadium with LSU Football painted all over the side in purple and gold. It makes you feel like you have really arrived and it is finally time to play the big game.
It was a short practice today in helmets only. Regardless, the team still brought the same intensity and focus when we hit the field. We know how important the little things are and how much attention to detail you must take to really separate yourself from other great football teams. Every team in the Southeastern Conference has a great deal of talent, but the teams who are willing to take the extra necessary steps and do the little things are the ones who win a majority of games.
After practice we got cleaned up, showered and dressed to come back out onto the indoor practice field. However, this time it wasn’t for a meeting or practice. The coaches brought in T.J. Ribs to cater dinner to everyone. Whenever football gets a local restaurant to cater, they always pull out all the stops and do a great job and provide a wonderful meal where everyone can break bread together. Just earlier this week we had Drusilla’s for lunch. Some other favorites include Sammy’s and Mike Andersons.
Between the ribs, chicken and beans everyone got filled up with most of the guys running through about two good sized plates. Then it was off to Don Carter’s Bowling Alley as the team took over to see who the best bowler was. Coach Miles led everyone in a great time where we were able to have a relaxing night.
Since it was New Year’s Eve and the coaches know that a majority of the players are from out of town, they decided to organize an entire night of team functions for us to enjoy. This is a great reward for a team that comes to work exceptionally hard everyday. It is also good to see everyone in a social environment while doing some fun activities together. It also helps build team chemistry that plays into our success on the field.
To cap off the evening and watch the ball drop on T.V., we are all headed to Tiger Stadium for a get together in the suites. There is also supposed to be some live entertainment for tonight, in addition to the DJ. I already know how long everyone has been looking forward to this, since coach informed us about a week ago. There has been a lot of talk about who the best dancer is as everyone is ready to throw it down on the dance floor and show off their best moves. The coaches are bringing their families and players are allowed to bring a guest as well.
I have to hurry home to take a shower and get changed myself, but before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you have a safe and fun time tonight. Check back in with me tomorrow to see who won the MVD, as Coach Miles says, for Most Valuable Dancer. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 11: Sunday, December 30, 2007
“Finally, we need to make a difference, men, in the outcome of this game with our special teams play.” I can still hear the final words from Special Teams Coach Bradley Dale Peveto every time we would break our final game plan meeting on Friday nights in the hotel ballroom before our game the following day.
“Make a Difference” are the words that best describe the motto of what LSU’s special teams have come to stand for these past few seasons. It is the one-third of the game that serves as a middle ground where both the offense and defense come together and really mesh into one unit. To most outsiders they think special teams are all about the kicker or punter.
While both of these positions do have a lot of responsibility and play a major factor in the outcome of a kicking down, it stretches far beyond that. It’s your starting running back going down on kickoff to a back up tight end trying to make a name for himself on the field goal unit. Here at LSU we take a ton of pride in our teams play because we know how important it is to the overall success of our team.
Great teams don’t just look at fourth down, a kickoff or an extra point as just another play, but rather try and take advantage and really put teams away on these downs. Statistically speaking more yards are exchanged on a punt than any other down in football. Furthermore, if a team starts its drive across the 50, they will give up at least a field goal every time. First downs are hard enough to come by in an offensive series, but what if a kickoff return unit could gain just 10 more yards from their return man or force opponents to sky kick it high and short so a dangerous return man could not get his hands on the ball?
I can think about the Auburn game this past season when they wanted no part of Trindon Holliday, one of the fastest men in the college game today. So instead they elected to use a sky kick to one of the up field blockers and let us start on our own 42 yard line with just about 3 minutes left to play. That was such a huge advantage to us in winning the game to only have to drive 25 yards for a field goal try instead of the length of the field. It killed their entire morale when they realized how much of a disadvantage they were at and probably played a small part in us scoring a touchdown with :01 second left to seal the SEC West.
The coaches are always stressing how important teams play is and as a result we practice it everyday, well more than most other college football teams out there. Everyone knows that we may need anyone to jump out there at any moment and get it done.
A couple things that automatically come to mind are when both the starter and backup went down on the kickoff team late in the Alabama game. Without hesitation Jacob Hester volunteered himself to go one more down after being exhausted from playing most of the game. Hester goes in without taking a repetition all week at practice and goes down to make the tackle.
The best example of just all out effort I can think about is two years ago when we played Auburn at home. Skyler Green ran a punt return back for a touchdown to throw us over the top and take home the victory. However, what was over looked on that play was Jonathan Zenon staying on his man for the entire play and driving him back 30 yards off the line of scrimmage. I think he put his man in the end zone before the punt returner got there for the score. Zenon exemplified what it meant to give everything you have for the team and very often the highlight clip is replayed as an example of what making a difference for your team is all about.
Very often the average spectator easily overlooks these. It doesn’t go down in any stat page in the next day’s paper or make a highlight reel in that nights local broadcast, but it is never lost amongst teammates or coaches. It forever sticks with you and defines how much character you have for the team. How you are willing to truly do whatever’s asked of you for victory.
Today’s practice was a light workout which consisted of running though all the special teams and each and every play that might get called during the game. You have to make sure everyone is on the same page and can’t afford to not have everyone working together. The tough games come down to a few key plays and we can’t afford to give up a touchdown because someone didn’t know their assignment. We constantly are running the plays over in our head as well in the meeting rooms or in our off time to get those mental repititions of who you are blocking or which way to run.
To help lessen the confusion during games, each different aspect of special teams has its own name. They include the punt unit which is called “Pride,” punt return unit called “Bandits,” the kickoff team aptly named “Attack” considering they run down the field to open the game and finally the kickoff return or “SKOR” unit. These names are called out on 3rd down during the game, at which time everyone who is on those units makes their way to the 50 yard line where a mat is placed with 10 dots on it. Everyone has their specific place to stand and this way it is easy to identify who is missing for the ensuing play.
For example, if the offense is on a drive deep in our own territory and third down comes up, everyone will start yelling “Pride in the pit!!! Pride in the pit!!!” Everyone quickly assembles to the mat and gets where they need to be with the punter or kicker always standing in the front next to Coach Peveto as the 11th man. It can look like mad chaos when you are attempting to find the three missing guys and then realize that they are still on the field from the previous play. From here the unit either gets the play call and runs onto the field or the offense gets a first down and everyone quickly disassembles until few more plays where the same drill takes place one more time. In any game this can happen as much as 20 times for just the punt unit.
I know this all sounds like a lot to take in and therefore is exactly the reason as to why we continue to do constant repetitions over and over again for good measure. Once everyone gets it down though it runs rather smoothly and very rarely goes off without a hitch.
I need to get some rest for tomorrow’s practice and New Year’s party tomorrow night with the team, but before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will stop in tomorrow to see how our big bash went. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 10: Saturday, December 29, 2007
Practice was significantly louder today as the Ohio State fight songs reverberated out the loud speakers, flooding the offensive players’ ears during drills this afternoon. One thing that many people outside of the program are not aware of is that when LSU goes to play an away game on the road, the coaches have the opposing team’s songs, in addition to crowd noise, blaring from a few huge speakers on the sidelines during practice the entire week leading up to the game. This is to emulate the game like atmosphere that impairs both players and coaches from verbally communicating effectively, especially during critical situations.
Furthermore, when it does come game time, the offensive has already adapted to how loud it will be and can communicate more effectively using a variety of hand signals. The Louisiana Superdome like any indoor facility will be especially loud as noise tends to echo off of the walls and make the building shake.
I have been to many loud games both in Tiger Stadium and on the road, but a few I can distinctly recall are when Georgia came to town in 2003 and playing on the road at Alabama in 2005. The noise conditions were so loud it was almost overbearing from letting you think straight. The only way to talk with fellow teammates on the sideline was to literally scream at the top of your lungs at someone who was less than two feet away.
However, this is when I as a player love football the most. To really have the fans get in to the game and dictate how teams go about conversing amongst themselves is something that you can’t explain, but rather just have to experience. It definitely is one of the best feelings in the world. To look around in Tiger Stadium at the 92,000 best fans in college football is something like no other. It is where legends are made and handed down for generations to come.
I would hate to have to be an opposing team coming to play us in our stadium because of how intimidating it must be. The great Bear Bryant, former head coach at the University of Alabama, once compared playing in Tiger Stadium to being on the inside of a drum.
One of the main reasons that we as players have been so successful at home all these years is thanks to our great fan base that come rain or shine to support the Tigers. The team is forever grateful to you for your undying support in both good times and in bad. You eat, sleep, breathe and drink LSU football and truly are the best anyone could ever ask for.
I occasionally talk to friends from other schools and they try and tell me how much fun it is when they play a home game due to how dedicated and great their fan base is. I usually let them say their peace and then go on to tell them how LSU football has its own culture in Louisiana. Very often I find myself at a loss for words because no matter what I say I know that it still will not give proper due justice to just how great Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium are. Rather I often invite them down for a game and it’s only a matter of time before my friends come to realize on just what they have been missing out on their entire lives and what football in the south is all about.
When I see them after the game or the next day I can’t stop hearing them rant about how much fun they had tailgating, watching the pre-game festivities and watching the game. Then they will usually go on to ask me when they can come down next because they want to do it all over again. The whole time I absolutely love it because deep down I know that they are now hooked and will become LSU fans for life.
I have so much pride in this place, I want to share it with everyone and let them in on how great this ride has been since I first stepped foot on this campus five years ago. Everything has happened so fast I often wonder where the time has gone, especially this past season.
Going into my senior year I knew it would be a special time in my life, but to have the opportunity to play for a second National Championship makes me shake inside. I still think about senior day a few weeks ago and running out of that tunnel. Every time you pass through those doors and take the field it’s like breaking out into the world as you suddenly feel invincible, as if nothing could stop you. No obstacle too big to smash right through. I guarantee that my teammates and I never forget that feeling for years to come.
I have to run off to a team meeting, but before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will check back in with me tomorrow as the team has a light quick practice scheduled in which we will run through all the special teams and some situational work. I hope you have a great weekend. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!
Day 9: Friday, December 28, 2007
Campus has become rather quiet with most of the LSU students enjoying their time off at home this winter break, except for the football operations building which is in full swing with whistles blowing and film rolling as the team continues to prepare for its game on January 7. With the coaches well aware that we don’t have class in the morning or studying at night, they have decided to arrange a team activity to help pass the time.
Coach Miles announced to the team last night at the conclusion of practice that we would all be able to go to a team movie tonight at the local theater. With this extra motivation to get through today’s practice, guys were rather excited to be able to enjoy each others company outside the complex in a social setting.
Going to the movies is a team ritual of sorts. Every game weekend, both at home and on the road, we either take a trip to the movie theater on Friday nights or rent a movie in our room depending on the time of the game the following day. This gives everyone a chance to kick up their feet and take their mind off football for a few hours. Coming to a consensus pick on what to see isn’t hard, with everyone favoring comedy and action flicks, but staying awake seems to be a rather difficult task for a few of the guys. Somewhere between the comfy seats and low lighting, guys are led to dozing off and snoring before they even know it, especially after all the running at practice during the week.
Keeping busy in our free time these past couple weeks hasn’t proven to be too difficult, mostly due to the fact that the team has gotten different electronics from LSU and Allstate, the game sponsor. Since practice started last week, each player has been given one bowl gift each day for our personal entertainment.
Things ranging from an Apple iTouch to the new Nintendo Wii have filled our lockers at the end of each practice. It was only a matter of time before everyone raced home to test out their new gifts. Yet it was the brothers, sisters, moms, dads and cousins who laid final claim to many of the players’ presents.
Furthermore, one gift that I always look forward to doesn’t arrive until late spring. This is when we pick up our rings, having just arrived from the jeweler. This is by far my favorite gift. It doesn’t have to do with how big it is or how much bling they managed to pack on top, but the stories and memories that encapsulated that season all squeezed down into less than a few ounces on my finger. I still go back and look at my rings from years past to recall the ups and downs of a particular season. They also always seem to strike up a conversation in public amongst LSU fans.
In years past we have received different bowl gifts that were generally the hottest items to hit the market at that given time. Some personal favorites included a full stereo system, a digital camera, video iPod, video camera and clothes galore. Many of my fellow teammates and I usually end up giving away a lot of the clothes we get to family members and friends, who go on to wear them proudly in support of the program here at LSU.
Like any large group, not everyone always gets what they want. Nevertheless, everyone is very thankful for what they do obtain from the school and bowl game. We all know how fortunate we are just to have been given the opportunity to play football at a place like LSU. The gifts will go on to collect dust or be lost over the years, but it’s the memories that everyone carries with them and the stories that carry over through the decades to come. I myself have forgotten the little things over the years from the bowl games, such as where we ate dinner or team activities we did for fun at night. Though I can still clearly recall the teams we played and what went on during the 60 minutes of game time.
I could never forget us beating storied programs like Oklahoma, Miami and Notre Dame. Being a part of that has been special and something that I always cherish well past my playing days.
I can hear the coaches yelling down the hall for everyone to load up on the buses for the theater and don’t want to miss the movie tonight, but before I go I would like to thank you for joining me for this installment of my daily BCS blog and hope that you will check back in with me tomorrow to see how practice went. As always, GEAUX TIGERS!