T-Bob: The importance of LSU spring ball, part two
In the first part of my blog about LSU spring ball, I focused on the practices and the environment in which they are held. This time I’ll focus on the spring game itself and what it means to players and coaches.
READ MORE: The importance of spring ball, part one
If you grew up an LSU fan, as many of us did, you know many a young fan dreams about playing in Tiger Stadium. For some this Spring Game will be their first experience actually getting to play in Death Valley. Before I competed in my first Spring, I remember taking the field as a true freshman in the Fall of ‘07 and being awed by the incredible nature of the stadium. The energy emitted from the stands is something that players can directly tap into and use to their advantage. This said, I still had no nervousness entering the games freshman year. I was redshirted and knew I wasn’t going to play, and at times I felt like a fan with the best seat in the house. (In fact, a couple of buddies and I actually sneaked sunflower seeds onto the field in our gloves).
Now compare that to my first LSU Spring Game…my first chance to actually take the field in a game-like situation. I was more nervous about that scrimmage than just about any football activity I had competed in up to that point. Although the atmosphere doesn’t rival a normal game, there were still thousands of Purple & Gold fans in the stands. Replays were still being shown on the big screen exposing who made plays and who got beat. Perhaps most importantly your family and friends are all there and you desperately want to show them how much you’ve improved in your redshirt time.
One of my favorite memories to this day is being on the purple team (the backup team basically) in Spring ’08. We were supposed to get dominated by the white team. Regardless, we were fired up. We took over on our own 15 yard line, and I remember a young Jarrett Lee and me running out to the huddle preparing to take our first snaps in Death Valley. 12 plays later Jarret had thrown a touchdown to the corner of the end zone to take an early lead. You would have thought we’d won something! Although we ended up losing somewhere along the lines of 42-7, I will never forget that initial drive. The feeling of success, when we scored, was unmatched in my experiences up to that point and was a huge confidence booster. I felt it showed that, yes, I can play on this level and I can play well. A year of redshirting can make a player question his worth and whether or not he belongs. An experience like this helps reassure a young player he made the right decision.
I tell this story for two reasons. First, I wanted to slap myself with some nostalgia. Second, I want you to see the game behind the game that will take place Saturday. Although the defense and offense will not run complicated plays (in fact the spring game play chart on both sides is pretty bare) there is still a ton at stake. Young men are trying to establish themselves as future LSU stars and prove to both the fans and coaches that they not only can handle the pressures of Tiger Stadium, but they can thrive in such an environment.
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