Forth: 'One at a Time!'
Nov. 10, 2000
TEMPE, Ariz. - I've been contemplating whether or not I should write an article this week. The last few games have been emotionally draining for the Sun Devil football squad. I like to keep an upbeat attitude towards the season, but this has been hard to do. Last weekend's loss to USC, as the saying goes, may have been the straw that broke the camel's back. This team is now 20 points away from being an undefeated team and playing for the Pac-10 Championship, if not the national title. Many of the players are asking 'the would of, should of, could of' questions for the four losses this team has suffered. This is not how I envisioned my senior year going. Although ASU was never favored to win many games this season in all of the preseason publications, I felt that this team would be the darkhorse of the conference and surprise many people. Don't get me wrong, I am not giving up on this season. There is still life left in this program.
What may be the most difficult thing to swallow is how this team has lost games. On those four separate occasions, the loss is blamed on the Sun Devils inability to play four quarters of football. This last weekend's loss to USC was the first time in the 2000 season that ASU didn't show up at all until the third quarter of the football game. I have no answers as to why this team performed the way it did. There was a very odd feeling in the stadium as the Devils took the field for the last time this season. The whole evening felt like it wasn't happening. You would think the players would be excited to play in front of their home crowd for the final time of the season. You would expect the seniors to be very emotional as the play in Sun Devil Stadium for the final time of their careers. None of this happened though, and the Devils now find themselves wondering what needs to be done differently to get the program turned around and salvage the 2000 season.
The focus the entire week relates back to Coach Snyder's 'One at a Time' philosophy. The coaching staff decided to give the players Sunday evening off after watching the game film and beginning our tape study of Stanford University. The focus then turned to Tuesday's practice, where the Devils went back to the basics. We focused on the tiny details, like breaking the huddle as a unit and hustling to the line of scrimmage. We repeated each play until it was executed to perfection. After a good practice on Tuesday, the focus then shifted to Wednesday's practice, and the cycle continued in the same fashion until the end of the week. We are focused on our one game season - Stanford. Everything we have done this week is to beat Stanford.
If you are not familiar with the 'One at a Time' philosophy, it is actually a very effective motto to live by. It is comprised of four elements, the first being that you will hustle. Hustling is half the battle with football. It takes no athletic ability to go your hardest on each and every play. The second element is knowing what to do. All eleven players have to be on the same page in order for a play to be executed properly. When a player knows what he is supposed to do, he eliminates the confusion and hesitation in a game. The third aspect is displaying courage. Football is a contact sport and the equipment managers issue you pads for a reason. When you play passively, that is when you are prone to injuries. The final element to the 'One at a Time' philosophy is caring about your teammates. Football is not an individualistic sport. You are only as good as the players around you. You have to play with confidence in you teammates abilities and know that they will get their job done. As simple as this philosophy may sound, it is very effective when done properly. Play one snap at a time. Put all of your effort into that one snap. If the play is unsuccessful, let it go. You can't take that play back and should not let it affect the remainder of the game. Not only can this philosophy be effective on the football field, it can be used in life.
A quote from Martin Luther King was sent to me that I think best describes the situation here at ASU: 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but when he stands at times of challenge and controversy.' The 2000 Sun Devil football team has a serious challenge ahead of us this weekend when we travel to Palo Alto, CA to take on Stanford. Can this team bounce back from two consecutive heart breaking overtime losses and get this season back on track, or will we take the field and play another uninspired football game? I can only reassure you of one thing, this team will play four quarters of hard nose, physical football. If we're going down, we're going down swinging!