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Thursday, November 21, 2013

WHAT IS YOUR TEAM'S ROAD MENTALITY? IT STARTS WITH YOU!

Teams that have long-term success over the course of a season, and certainly over extended seasons do a lot of things well.  There is a culture they have created that permeates that success.  Part of that formula has to be the attitude you take on the road.  How are you going to treat road games and road trips? 

Of course, this all begins with the head coach and then the assistant coaches.  Players can feel when the staff is comfortable and confident on the road.  To me the thing the road represents is the unknown.  At home, you can control so many more things.  On the road, you are often at the mercy of bus companies, hotels, restaurants, weather, etc.  How do you respond?  Coach Dale Brown always talk about this with our staff.  He told us to never let our team see us sweat on the road.  We were to laugh off problems and give the team the feeling that anytime of little setback has nothing to do with our preparation and performance.  When we got back, we would work to see how we could correct a problem -- but the team was to stay focused.

A big road success story the past few years have been the Texas A&M football team.  Being in Aggieland I can tell you that this team takes on the attitude of their leader -- Coach Kevin Sumlin.  He has done a great job of keeping them focused in light of a lot of distractions -- and that includes road games.  Here is a little insight via some excerpts of an article written by Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com:

While Kyle Field has always stood as one of the best college football environments -- and a tough venue for its visitors -- the Aggies have had much better success in big games away from home since the Manziel-Kevin Sumlin era began last season. In the past two seasons, Texas A&M has gone 9-0 in road and neutral site games, compared to 10-4 (the only four losses under Sumlin) at home. While the Aggies have averaged five more points (48.3-43.8) and have an average points per game margin of 22.4 at home, Texas A&M has averaged 34 more yards (587.7-553.7) and is 4-0 in games decided by seven points or less on the road, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
I feel like when we go on the road, it's us against the world," senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr said. "We go into the stadium with a mindset that we have to come out here on top. Coach Sumlin has instilled in us that we have to focus and keep the same mindset, just like we're playing at home, but we're away."
"You go on the road, you try to create your own energy," Sumlin said. "We don't make a big deal about road trips. That's part of it. As a competitor, the same type of enthusiasm you get from the home crowd, from an electricity standpoint, you ought to be able to utilize that on the road, and I think our team does a good job of that."

Saturday presents a unique experience/challenge for the Aggies. Tiger Stadium is no walk in the park; it's a trek through a savage jungle. LSU is 55-7 at home under coach Les Miles, including 27-7 in SEC play. The Tigers have also lost just one home game since 2009.

One does not simply walk into Tiger Stadium, but the Aggies don't seem fazed by raucous environment they're strolling into.

"It'll be a tough challenge, but it's an exciting one, one that we're all looking forward to," senior receiver Travis Labhart said.

"It's a good feeling to know that when you go on the road that it's just you and your teammates -- band of brothers -- and we go out and play our hardest and luckily we've prevailed so far with Coach Sumlin [on the road]."

For junior receiver Malcome Kennedy, playing on the road is intoxicating. Instead of battling the crowd, he chooses to admire them, and inhales their energy.

"You just look around and you see the crowd and, a lot of the times, I don't know if other players get the feeling but I get the feeling that they're cheering for me," Kennedy said. "It's something weird. Different players have different methods of approaching it but it's a very awesome experience."

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