Thursday, July 30, 2009

Away Games

Preparation for away games is not much different than for home games, but the experience is unique. The only thing we do is practice with recorded crowd noise on the huge sound system spread around the field and silent snap counts. But in all reality, nothing can replicate the actual sound of a roaring Coliseum or Autzen stadium.

In 2007 when we played at Autzen stadium for College Game Day, the noise was so loud that when I was in the huddle I could not hear the play being called and had to actually read Nate Longshore's lips to get the call. If I didn't understand what he was saying I had to ask, Guard, Noris Malele to relay it to me, which required him to be about 2 inches from my ear and scream as loud as he can. Can you imagine being in a sea of green and yellow, essentially deaf to all sound?

As we approached the line of scrimmage I could do nothing but take a quick glance at the location of the defense and after that, my eyes were glued to the ball. For almost all of the play prior to the snap, I was blind of what was going on around me and had to use the Center and Guard as my eyes and ears. As a Tackle, you are so far down the line that seeing the ball is extremely difficult. A flinching defensive player could appear out of your peripheral as the Center snapping the ball, which could lead to a false start. My eyes had to be glued to that ball! At Guard, the ball is easily accessible in your view and you don't need to stare it down. The Guards become the eyes for the Center, who is looking under at the QB's signals, as well as eyes for Tackles who cant see the defense to well. They assist in making points for protections and run plays for the whole Offensive Line. The Guard's role is pivotal in our success.

As soon as the ball is snapped my eyes snap back to their proper location and I begin executing the assignment given in the huddle. The Battle begins. This is when team unity and functionality as a unit is huge. Not being able to hear each other requires us to know what we are going to do as a unit without conversing. I can honestly say that Noris and I didn't speak one word to each other outside of the huddle calls. Everything we did was through knowledge and understanding of each other due to a bond that was established through continuous repetitions at practice. We didn't need to talk because I already knew what he was going to say and do.

(Side note, I remember hearing that the Cal Vs. Oregon game in Autzen for College Game Day in 2007 broke or tied an NCAA record for loudest game. I have no idea the decibels [dB] we hit...)


  1. Chills! Thanks Mike for the insight. I remember watching ... and wanting to throw up the whole time. PHENOMENAL GAME! GO BEARS!!!

  2. How is the bond among the OL this year? We need you guys to have a good year.

  3. Wow, definitely getting chills, I can't wait for the season to start!!! Mike your intensity is firing me up for sure. Let's GO BEARS! I always knew the noise was disruptive but I had no idea it was this bad, I'm DEFINITELY going to be yelling a little louder this year @ Memorial.

  4. Mike, your blog is outstanding. Thanks for doing this. I'm getting very excited for this season.

  5. you're a gifted writer/communicator, mike. it makes me proud to be a bear. wishing you guys the best. i have tickets to UCLA and USC this year and will make the trek up to the bay from socal. hope practice is going well. you have a whole contingent of people cheering for you and team.

  6. Great post, as always. I defintely second the compliments on the excellent blog posting. It is REALLY helping to ease my instatiable hunger for Cal Football.

    Regarding the noise, have you guys ever thought about using something like ear plugs? I wonder if there is a special kind that would help your particular situation. I've noticed that even at really loud concerts with ear plugs I can still hear people talking near me and it actually helps a little bit because it just cuts down the noise ever so slightly (like maybe 10-15 dB). Don't know if there would be specific ear plugs to help with Autzen. Sounds like its going to be NUTS this year. And yeah I remember that game...I think I was on my knees in tears until Marcus Ezeff popped that ball out at the one milimeter line. Awesome game! Go BEARS!!

  7. Someone else mentioned ear plugs to mask background noise. I'm wondering whether the team has considered using earplugs during practice to acclimate to using non-aural cues to work together.
    Have you guys used earplugs in practice?