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From the Bird’s Nest: Avoiding the Ambush

Chris Graythen/Getty Images Sport

Can this UL football team handle success?

That’s the biggest question in my mind this week as Louisiana gets ready to take on the Florida Atlantic Owls tomorrow night at Cajun Field (5:35 airtime on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Radio Network.)

The Cajuns are 3-1 on the year and have won three straight.  They’re looking to go 2-0 in league play.

And this game scares me to death.

If you follow college football, you know there are games like this.  The Cajuns beat one of the defending conference champions last week.  And, they play the other next week.

And here, right smack dab in the middle, is a team that’s 0-3 and has scored exactly one touchdown in three games.

We call these trap games.  Or ambush games.

And, it happens all the time in college football.  It happens to good teams.  You go out and play a big game, expend lots of energy and emotion and know you have another one coming up and you just can’t get yourself ready to play that game in the middle.

Coaches will say and do all the right things.  But coaches can only motivate so much.  And, they only have these players for a couple of hours a day.

The rest of the time, the student body is congratulating them, telling them that they’re good.  They’re reading message boards where fans have already chalked up another win and are talking about (honest to God,) running the table.  Their friends are lauding their accomplishments on Facebook and Twitter.

And, at the end of the day, it’s up to the players to get themselves prepared.  As I said, the coaches can only do so much.

It’s why I shake my head when I hear fans say “Coach so and so will make sure they’re ready.”

Nope.

The players have to get themselves ready.  Bottom line.

So, this one makes me a little nervous.

On the field the Cajuns need to do some things if they’re going to win the game.  And, many of those things will be directly affected by their mental preparation for this game.

We can all break this down from an analytical standpoint.  Win the field position battle, slow down the Owls’ running game, don’t turn it over, execute the offense, yada yada yada.

But this game will come down to the most important piece of preparation of all.

And, that’s the exercising the muscle between the ears.

If you do that, you avoid the ambush.

Prediction:  Cajuns -9

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