As head coach Jeremy Reed and his staff gathered the Bulldogs together on the practice field at the end of practice Wednesday, he issued a few reminders. He begins with, “Well men…. the hay is in the barn.” I looked around the faces of the modern generation circled around their leader wondering how many even understood what Reed was referencing.
Although I never put any hay in any barn, I understood it. It means the work has been done. All the game plans have been implemented. Specific adjustments to Vernon’s attack have been accounted for. Awareness of Vernon’s impact personnel and coaching tendencies is instilled. The grind of the summertime conditioning is over.
Wednesday practices, especially the Wednesday before the opening game, mark the end of self inflicted carnage. Finally, the team can now focus its efforts and angst toward an unknown opponent instead of each other. Until now, players have competed hard against their teammates in an attempt to catch the eye of the coaches hoping to add much sought after playing time.
Today will be short and sweet. Bulldogs will walk through various game situations. In a mock game scenario, all the special/rare/extras that are a beautiful part of football will be covered. Typically, coaches don’t like surprises. They don’t want their team to confront any issue that might rattle their nerves. Issues of onside kicks, interceptions, safeties, and fake field goals can be addressed.
Thursday walk-throughs need to be sharp, focused and smooth. It helps to instill confidence. Game day schedules and expectations will go out to the Bulldogs. Everything from game jerseys to taped ankles to nutritional concerns are covered. Strange as it may seem, perhaps the most anticipated signal of the end of the pre-season, the official, earned helmet stickers are applied onto newly cleaned helmets. Nutrient levels are strictly monitored so as to avoid September cramps as best as they can be.
We are one day away from a coin toss, marching band and a bunch of blue hay spewing out of a huge inflated Bulldog head.
For now, the hay is still in the barn. Come Friday evening, that hay will be unleashed as Bulldogs ready for some Vernon Lions.