I feel sick.
Not because I am physically infected, but because my teammates and I seem to have a disease that we haven’t found a cure for after 62 years.
We needed to win that bowl game, and now we have to work even harder to get another shot when we return to the postseason a year from now.
While I will probably get another chance, there are plenty of others who won’t. For my teammates Corbin Bryant and Andrew Struckmeyer, the TicketCity Bowl was the last game of their collegiate (and potentially entire) football careers. Later in life, they will remember their last three bowl games and try to think of anything they could have done differently in order to win.
On the other hand, I consider myself fortunate enough to have at least two years of eligibility left to help this team win a bowl game. But in this world of instant gratification, I want to win as soon as possible. The best way for my teammates and me to get started is by working as hard as we can in the off season so we can go into spring practice in the best mental and physical shape of our lives.
One person who is constantly training is Dan Persa. All the praise he gets about his work ethic is true. Even with a surgically-repaired Achilles tendon, Persa has been working relentlessly to get every healthy muscle in his body stronger in the weight room. With him as our leader, we won’t rest until we sing our fight song in the locker room after we win a bowl game.
Even though Persa injured himself before the end of the regular season, his absence is not to blame for our loss against Texas Tech. Our offense played a great game, scoring the most points in any game since Persa’s injury. Our defense, however, could not find a way to stop Taylor Potts in time for our offense to secure the victory. Even though our defense stepped it up in the fourth quarter, it was too little too late, and we ran out of time in a contest that we could have won.
I don’t know what it is about our luck, but I try to avoid thinking about superstitions and other crap like that. I prepared for Texas Tech as if I were playing in the game, and when I get my chance, I’m going to do everything in my power to help our team win football games. I can only control how well I prepare for my next opponent, and right now, my next opponent is whoever decides to line up in front of me during spring ball. As Coach Fitzgerald said in a recent Chicago Tribune article, there will be competition for playing time among defensive players, and I know I can work hard enough to hopefully get on the field and actually sack the opposing quarterback before he steals another bowl win from us.
If I could speak for the entire team, I would apologize for failing to win the bowl game. I can promise you, however, that we are all training as hard as we can for as long as we can — with our goal to win a bowl game in mind. When the start of the 2011-2012 college football season arrives in the fall, look for the Cardiac ‘Cats to be breaking opponents’ hearts everywhere with a high-powered offense led by Dan Persa and a rejuvenated defense. On my calendar, 2011 is the year of the Wildcat.