Tonight, the ASU Football team begins their season for 2014. The wait is over. For coach Todd Graham and his staff, the real work begins tonight, after the game. Coach Graham will never admit it, but games like these are often mentally categorized as a scrimmage or a tune-up, used solely to evaluate personnel and make adjustments before the “real season” starts.
Throughout the season, teams progress week to week and improve individually as well as collectively. But every coach knows that the biggest leap of improvement as a team occurs between game 1 and game 2. The first game establishes the tempo, the game rhythm, the rotations, the moods of players and coaches. It’s the first real sampling of a team’s personality.
While ASU shouldn’t truly be tested tonight from the standpoint of winning or losing the game, the players will be seeing new people, different schemes and finally playing at full speed and full contact. That fact elevates everyone’s attention and concentration, which allows for more realistic evaluation of personnel.
For the players, it’s a chance for the leaders of this team to establish the game day and pre-game rituals for the younger players. Even though it’s an FCS opponent, the young freshmen on this team will be wide-eyed and filled with nervous energy. They’ll need a calming presence. Not just in the huddle, but at breakfast, at class, the team meetings and during pre-game warm-ups.
The newcomers to this team were accomplished high school players, no doubt they know how to mentally prepare for a game. But it’s a new world here at the college level. They don’t really know what to expect. This Game One is a chance for all involved to take a breath, go through the mental checklist and hopefully take the field ready to execute.
They’ll need guidance from Taylor Kelly, Jamil Douglas, Jaxon Hood and company. These veterans should know how to control their emotions and excitement, take care of business and then let that emotion out at the right time.
Here’s to hoping that the freshmen are paying attention.
Tags: ASU Football