T-Bob: Planning will go out the window when LSU meets Wisconsin
by T-Bob Hebert,posted Aug 27 2014 11:18AM
It is finally LSU game week, which means that Tiger fans everywhere have entered a time-slow as they watch the final hours leading up to kick-off slowly crawl by. During these seventy minute hours, one might find his or herself more pensive than usual as they attempt to pass the time. It just so happened that one of my favorite ways to pass the time is listening to podcasts, and there is one that stands above the rest.
The podcast I speak of is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Hardcore History is a show that is hard to describe. Often, when trying to tell people about it, I don't do the show justice with my explanation, but I will try. Hardcore History is like listening to a book on tape about all the most fascinating things you can imagine before remembering that everything you just heard is actual proven history… that’s when you end up just plain shocked.
These are some of the most horrifyingly fascinating stories I have ever heard. The most recent Hardcore History has chronicled WWI and the insanity on display during that time. You need to drop what you are doing in order to go listen and marvel at what humans can accomplish, both moral and immoral. One of the main themes of WWI was the clashing of two different eras and the chaos created as a result. There are all kinds of new insane military technology at this time (early 20th century) and no one quite knows what will happen when the new tech is actually put into live combat.
What the military leaders seem to find time and time again was that theories didn’t always hold up on the actual battlefield, and the resulting loss of human life is astounding. Prussian General Helmuth Von Mulka The Elder (Whose son was in control of the German army at the outbreak of WWI) has a quote that the generals could have learned from - “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” This quote is appropriate as LSU prepares to have their own theories and plans put to the test come Saturday.
Obviously, I am in no way comparing a game as trivial as football to the rigors of a real life war. This quote is merely the inspiration behind this other thought about LSU.
Football is such an odd game because 99.9% of the time, it is simply not that much fun. Players and coaches essentially spend around 350 days working for 12 or 13 days of incredible emotion and competition. The reason you run twenty-six 110 yard sprints in 100+ degree weather is for the payoff that you experience on gameday. Schools have entire states full of millions of people who NEED their school to win. Because of the college football ranking system, just one or two losses can be enough to derail any hopes you have of accomplishing your goals. All these different factors add up to create some very high stakes that can bring you to the highest of emotional peaks or plunge you to the lowest of valleys.
The hundreds of hours practicing, watching film, and working out are funneled into just 60 minutes that could potentially decide the fate of your entire season. The first game of the season is one of the most intense if you have a quality opponent. That opening matchup is the one in which you will have the least amount of information on the opponent. There will be many new players, strategies, and sometimes coaches that were not at the program the previous year.
To counter that, you watch as much film as you can and attempt to predict what the opponent will do, and where you can take advantage of their weakness. The only problem is that sometimes these weaknesses may not be weaknesses at all, and suddenly the advantage you predicted you would have is gone and you find yourself on the defensive. Therefore, the ability to make and install changes quickly is one of the main keys to victory.
Whether or not LSU wins the game Saturday, it won't be because their initial plans succeed - instead it's about how they identify, comprehend, and counter adversity. There is a reason behind players coming off the sideline and, instead of watching the game, meeting with their coach while furiously scribbling on a white board. That is because they are trying to figure out exactly what the other team is doing and what adjustments need to be made.
There could be a call or a situation that you have drilled into your head for months, yet suddenly, something completely different is required of you in that same situation. One other interesting wrinkle to think about is the fact that this whole opening game experience is intensified if it is your first game ever starting. There is a big difference between getting it done on the practice field and being able to perform when the game is on the line. The speed at which players move and the quickness with which decisions are made increase on game day and when all these factors swirl together to become a cacophonous maelstrom of noise and violence some players wilt… yet some players thrive.
LSU head coach Les Miles figures to play four to six freshmen in Saturday’s game… how these young players respond could mean the difference between a win and a loss.