Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sugar by the Spoonful | by Jay

One of the interesting things about Charlie is his willingness to adjust his approach to game preparation based on what's worked and hasn't worked in the past. The Michigan State game in '05 comes immediately to mind. CW fully admitted he goofed on downplaying the off-field hoopla surrounding the first home game of the season, and as a result the team came out flat and distracted. He completely changed his tune this year, fully embracing the homefield pageantry, even going so far as to try and fly the band out for the Southern Cal game for the first time in a long time (as it turns out, only the seniors were able to go.)

For LSU he's singing a completely different tune than he did in the lead-up to the Fiesta Bowl last year. Charlie talked about it a little bit in his presser a couple of weeks ago, and here's a good followup piece in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel describing Charlie's more gradual approach to prepping the team.

Weis insists he’s learned his bowl-preparation lesson. He will not seek advice from other coaches as he did last year (“It didn’t work,” he says). He will not cram too much information into too short a period of time, and he will not have long, grueling practices.

“I’m not sure if (the team was) stale or flat or what,” Weis says, “but we have a whole different schedule and approach. We had a whole year to try to right that wrong. We’re doing a bunch of things different.”

The No. 1 difference: Short and sweet is a top priority.

“I want to be flying around at the start of the game,” Weis says, “and the only way you do that is by practicing to fly around, and the only way you can fly around is if you’re not going for a long period of time.”

Thus the emphasis on shorter, brisker practices. Players will get small snippets of the game plan each practice, then work to hone them.

“Spread it out and give it in little pieces,” Weis says. “You work into those phases so that nothing gets stale.”

Staleness can be an issue when you have five and a half weeks off before the Sugar Bowl. That’s why the No. 1 offense will practice against the No. 1 defense.

“We’ll spend the next few weeks with the good guys against the good guys,” Weis says.

Last year, Weis was concerned about revealing the game plan too soon. This year, revelation already has started.

“I thought the way we did it last year was too drastic,” Weis says. “There’s a more logical way to do it. We’re trying to use logic this year.”

Logic includes academics. This is finals week, and the only football-related activities are two conditioning sessions with strength coach Ruben Mendoza. The Irish will resume bowl preparations this weekend.

“We’re trying to keep them sharp and crisp and not stale,” Weis says. “We don’t want to burn them out. With exam week, you’ve got to let the kids be students.”

After that, it’s full focus on a strong LSU team that is strong on speed and athleticism.
We'll see if the new approach works.

LSU also went back to work this afternoon prepping for ND. Les Miles pointed out something about the Irish that, well, I've never seen pointed out before:
“Notre Dame is very good,” Miles said. “We are concerned with a number of things they do. They are very talented. They have been Notre Dame for a long time.
I'm just completely baffled. Was that intentional? Was that some kind of Jedi Mind Trick meant to confuse and befuddle the Irish? If so, it's working. I'm all messed up.