Inside ASU Football

Aug. 22, 2002

It is less than 72 hours to game time and the start of another exciting college football season. Our players are fired up about taking the field Saturday night in the Black Coaches Association Classic. Every team gets to the point where they are tired of hitting each other and need that first game to get a feel of where they are at in live competition. Last winter, when the opportunity came for us to open against a great program like Nebraska, we knew it would be a great measuring stick for our program and everything we would like to become. The time is now at hand, and I think every coach in America would like a few more days to polish the game plan while every player in America wants only to get the games started.

Speaking of game plans, openers are always the hardest to prepare for. All either team has to go on is last season's game tapes. Both teams will be using new players that don't show up on film. Both teams will be breaking out various new and different schemes they have studied since the end of last season and implemented based on trying to shore up their weaknesses and highlight their strengths. This is a two-way street, but as a coach, you always want to feel like you have prepared for every possible situation, and scheme variation known to man. This is, of course, impossible, and the same for both teams. Stay tuned!

I thought our readers might like to know what happens on a typical ASU Football road trip. The players receive an itinerary that accounts for most of their time starting on Friday and continuing through our practice on Sunday evening. For this trip, we are allowed to take 75 players, as opposed to the 60 we can take for Pac-10 games. We like to leave on Friday afternoons so players can attend classes in the morning. Football probably misses less school time than any other sport. Because of the time change and because we want to do a walk-through at Memorial Stadium, we will have a team meeting at 8:20 AM on Friday to cover any last minute details. At 8:30, we bus to Sky Harbor and board our America West charter flight for the 2 � hour flight to Lincoln. With the time change, we arrive around 1:30 PM and will do an hour and fifteen minute walk-through at the stadium. Here, we cover some situational-type things on offense and defense as well as an approximate 30-play special team script that covers most every situation imaginable.

Our players wear ASU collared shirts and travel sweats made for us by Adidas. This allows our players to dress alike, be comfortable, and represent ASU. I think coat and ties look great, but they are not very practical for how often we change clothes, get on buses, go to meetings, etc. We always emphasize to everyone involved that this is a business trip in which we have only one mission: win the game, and represent ASU in the best possible fashion.

After practice and taking showers, we will travel by bus from Lincoln to Omaha to the team hotel. This should take from 45 minutes to an hour. We will eat a team dinner at 6:00 PM in the hotel. We try to select a mixture of foods that are healthy, but also things that the players like. After dinner, the players have a little time until returning for meetings at 8:00 PM. Offense and defense meet separately for 45 minutes. These meetings consist of watching video that reflects Saturday's game plan. Next is a 30-minute special teams meeting for the entire team. More video, followed by the various special teams captains giving reminders (Punt, Punt return, Kickoff, etc.) Following special teams is a short team meeting where I say a few words to the team about the weekly theme, or some other motivational-type message. The players pick up a light snack and head for their rooms at 10:15 PM. Bed check by the coaches is at 11:00 PM.

When we have an evening game, we allow the players to sleep in if they wish. All players will receive a wake-up call by 9:30 and can eat an informal breakfast at their leisure. The Offense/Defense walk-throughs begin at 10:30 AM. We walk through our script for the first 20 plays or so against the various defensive looks we expect to see. This is followed by a quick special teams substitution review. The players can attend voluntary chapel services after this meeting, if they wish.

The pre-game meal is served at 2:45 PM. We like to eat 4 hours prior to kickoff and we will plan our arrival at the stadium to be 2 hours before kickoff. This allows the players about an hour to get dressed and taped. Starting 1 hour before kickoff, the players will go to the field in different groups. QB's and kickers followed by centers, then return men, receivers and defensive backs, and culminating with the linemen and a team warm-up routine. We always finish with 1 punt and 1 field goal before leaving the field 18 minutes prior to kickoff.

After the game, we try to let players visit with family and friends before departing for the airport. The great thing about flying charter is you can get back home much more quickly. For this trip, we will return by approximately midnight on Saturday.

Due to time restraints, I will skip the Sunday schedule; however, we do believe in watching film, lifting weights, getting treatment and having a very light practice on Sunday, then giving the players a day off from football on Monday. We think this is best for the players physically, as well as allowing us to put the previous game to bed as soon as possible so that we can shift our focus to our next opponent.

WARNING! This article has been pretty boring so stop reading now. Keep sending questions and we will visit again next week.

See you next week!

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