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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Last Game: Bowl Victory

My last game. I'm not sure where to start. I had the same problem this time last year, writing a blog wrap up. I surmised that writing after the bowl in Charlotte was tough because we had lost, and ending such a great season on a loss left a bitter taste in my mouth. This time it's a little different.
It's the same feeling that every kid gets on the last day of school, with the entire summer sprawled out before him. Excitement about all the summer fun, but you know you won't be keeping up with all your friends in homeroom, there won't be teachers hounding you or homework to do. In a strange way all that impending freedom is scary.
Well, my last day of school was a bowl game in Canada. My school years was 5 years as a UConn football player, my teachers were some of the best coaches the country has to offer, and their homework assignments were simple: watch film, practice hard, execute and win.
My summer however, this time, is a lot more scary. I don't know how to do my taxes (this was the rallying cry for me and a few other seniors after some celebratory beers in downtown Toronto.) It's the first time I'm no longer a college football player. I am now a responsible (well semi-responsible) member of society. Degree in hand. But before I delve too far into all the this sentimentality, let me break down the game:

Donny Brown. Wow.
Over 250 yards rushing. What a great guy. He is the most dominating running back in the nation. All we do is run. We telegraph the run. We smoke signal the run. Everyone knows "power" is coming...and one can stop Downtown Donny Brown.
It really was a story of two teams, the first half we looked like some sort of slap-stick comedy act. Fumbling and bumbling the football (and cramming in to a Volkswagon know...for the kids). Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.
The defense held fast. I'd like to say it was our athletic prowess and roster full of future-NFL talent (some of it was), but it was also the air-tight game plan put together by our defensive coaching staff. Led by Hank Hughes and Todd Orlando. Having Todd Orlando as your defensive coordinator is almost not fair. Not to mention he had 4 weeks to comb over every play Buffalo had ever run. I think he even filed a freedom of information petition (the hippies finally got something right!) with Turner Gill's parents. Those home movies were invaluable. Seriously, he's like Rainman (just replace that juice box with a can of Kodiak).

There was also some extra motivation going into the game. Every interview and story was about about Buffalo. The 50 year anniversary of what that 1958 team did. While I commend the team of 1958, it was as if the media and everyone else forgot we were going to be on the field on Saturday.

That and we heard a Buffalo player give an interview and tell some Canadian TV station, "Predict the score? Sure. 37-7. Buffalo wins..." (apparently his career as the future Nostradamus has been cut short).

The second half was pure domination, quintessential UConn football (and of course, UConn defense). Capped, of course, by the longest interception return for a touchdown in UConn history: 100 yards later the win was sealed, the Gatorade was flowing, and Coach Edsall needed a new pair of pants (he changed at half-time too, but you know...for different reasons).

So the celebrations were long and hardy. The FWG got go conduct the band (wish granted!), and for a few moments all was right with the world.
I did not I wanted to leave that locker room. Leave such a special group of guys. My "summer" was (is) just beginning.

So whats next for the FWG?....I'll explain that in...


I am off to play professional football. Nope not in the NFL. Not the CFL. Not your local arena league. I am hopping the pond, landing in Austria on March 1st.
This opportunity presented itself and I jumped at the chance. I think it will be a good way to say goodbye to the game (and see Europe at the same time).

Want to learn more about this, I suggest you read the book:
Seriously. Get it. Read it. It helped sell me on this whole thing.

So here's the deal with the whole "BLOG THING".
This blog took on a life on of its own. I am going to keep it, and comment on UConn Football from my perspective (as a former player).
I will also be writing exclusive content for NESN.COM and

So come here for updates on my life, happenings in UConn Football, and some insight on training and competing at the next level. It will be sure to get more interesting when I touch down in Austria.

Back for more soon...


JBurd said...

Thanks for everything you and the seniors have done Rob. The defense was effing amazing all game long and us Boneyarders were so impressed with the performance of the D even with the offense throwing you under the bus that first half.

And goodluck with your future endeavors, this May '08 grad is still job hunting. So you have a good jump on the career side of life!

CanadianMonti said...

As an American who has lived in Toronto for 21 years, I have found reading your take on the International Bowl experience a great read. I attended the game and thoroughly enjoyed it. I will bookmark your blog to track your experiences overseas. Glad it sounds like you enjoyed your Toronto experience (when not prepping for the bowl game itself). Good luck.

Katherine Francesca said...

Congratulations on a great 5 years! I'm glad to hear you'll be keeping the blog up too. Can't wait to hear stories from Austria!

Frats_Frosh said...

and be sure to toss another shrimp on the barbie, ay!

Thanks Rob, this has been a great perspective, and great fun. Best of luck, and keep penning the humor.