A typical game week starts straight after the previous game. For some reason, coaches don’t like to celebrate a win but, in the same breath, they don’t get hung up on losses either. Personally, I love to celebrate a win. That’s the reason I play sport. To win!
Plus, winning an FBS college football game is a pretty hard task and not everyone can say they have played on a winning team. But I digress, back to the game week.
As players, we pretty much have 12 hours to celebrate the win before we had to move onto the next game. Sundays would be a pretty chill affair, that is, if we had a normal Saturday game coming up. Some meetings, a lift, maybe a walk-through, and a great dinner with everyone (ice-cream included).
If we had a Thursday or Friday game coming up, we would skip straight to whatever day we needed to be at. We would mentally change each day to make the game land on a Saturday. So Sunday would magically turn into a normal Tuesday if we were playing on a Thursday. Try to understand that a few times each season or a lot of times at the start of 2019.
I felt sorry for the position players who played a shitload of snaps less than 24 hours earlier because now they have to suit up for a hard practice! In terms of coaches understanding players and their bodies, I would rate Coach Holgorsen and his strength staff, led by Coach Bauer, on top of that list. They knew when to push us and when to give us a break during the season.
The worst? Don’t get me started on the little bloke up in Austin.
Mondays would be pretty low key. Come in for a meeting, watch some film, do some punts during practice, finish up, shower, and then dinner. Some years we had Mondays as our NCAA-mandated off day and some years it was Sunday.
Tuesday was the toughest practice of the week. Old mate Tom Herman would make Tuesday practices full-pads (I saw a lot of injuries during those practices). Coach Applewhite tried to follow Tom’s Tuesday practice style but he realized it wasn’t actually beneficial to the players’ health nor the team’s success. Coach Holgorsen rarely used full padded practices at all during the season.
I would punt the most on Tuesday as we had punt-coverage practice. After that, I would go work on my craft, learning what punts would work against this week’s opponent, and practicing random difficult punts to hopefully bring into a game one day.
Wednesday would start with a lift in the morning then off to rehab or classes (I did both every day). Come back in the afternoon for a team meeting then gear up for practice. Not a lot for this old man to do at a Wednesday practice.
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For my first 3 seasons, Thursday would be the last practice we had before the game. Just a light practice with spider pads on while going through everything we needed to for the game. Then on Friday, it would be a walkthrough and resting.
But last year, Coach Holgorsen swapped those two days around. Thursdays became “no sweat Thursdays” and we actually had to practice on Friday, the day before the game. Apparently, he’s been doing that for years. At the start, I was against it because I didn’t want to punt on a Friday, even if it was only about 20 punts. But I ended up having my best and most consistent year so maybe I should have been doing that all along.
After everything on Friday, we would take a bus to the team hotel near the Galleria or head to the airport for a road trip.
We were pretty spoiled with charter flights and huge hotel buffets for each meal. But then again, we were making the University millions of dollars and not seeing much of it in return The walk-ons weren’t seeing a single penny of it! So, we made the most of it.
What did we eat? Pasta stations, steak and vegetables, thick shakes, and popcorn. Friday night was a time for eating! My long-snapper, Nick Wildberger, wasn’t on scholarship until his junior year. So every time we went to the hotel for a game, he would eat as much as he could as he didn’t have a lot of money for food during the week. This is a common occurrence in college football for walk-ons.
GAMEDAY! Saturday would roll around and, if we were lucky, we’d be playing a mid-afternoon game. For the 11 am games, we would be up for the first meeting at 6 am or some ungodly hour. Then it’s go-time from there. Meetings, breakfast, get changed, leave the hotel, and arrive at the stadium 2 hours before kickoff. This week’s Navy game is perfect for the players – 2:30 afternoon game which means you get home at a good hour, too.
If we had a later game, of course, we’d be able to sleep in for a bit, and then the same process would take place. The worst games are the really late ones. We’d get up for breakfast, then a meeting, then back to the room for a few hours, then down again for lunch. Then, back to the room to watch the games on TV, check the stats, and making sure all the Aussie punters were having great games.
Some game days, we’d spend the whole day in the hotel room. The absolute worst were midweek games – there are no games on during the day to entertain us.
Straight after the game, the coach would have a talk, our position coach would chat with us, then we’d have a shower, pack our bags, grab some food, and head to the bus so we could fly home. After home games, we’d just grab whatever food was provided (hopefully Pluckers’ Southwest Chicken Salad or some Frenchys) and walk home.