Football and a hurricane
Currently, I sit on a couch on the far west side of Madison, watching Baker Mayfield plant the Oklahoma flag on the Ohio State “O” (#Savage).
It’s been a long week between my day career and covering the game, but I’m thankful. I’m fortunate, and I know at the moment that within 12 hours I won’t have a Category 3 or 4 hurricane bearing down on my home, my community, my state.
I haven’t always been a Wisconsinite, and as much as I’m forever grateful for my grandma reeling my sister and I up here for a summer that kickstarted our exodus back to this wonderful state, my heart always holds a special place for southwest Florida.
As a teenager, I lived for four years in Cape Coral, Fla., and despite my family losing much financially during that time, I was forever shaped by my experiences, my education (both academic and social), and my friends who became family.
I still keep in touch with many of my friends back “home,” though not as much as I want to. Now, they’re nearly directly in the path of a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. There have been some who have evacuated ahead of the storm, but a lot who haven’t due to work obligations or other circumstances. My cousin’s also in law enforcement up in northeastern Florida, who will be working to ensure the citizens he watches over are taken care of.
Many Florida football teams had their games canceled or rescheduled this week, but Florida Atlantic made a trip up to Madison to take on Wisconsin on Saturday.
Now, according to a report from ESPN’s Myron Medcalf, head coach Lane Kiffin and his team will stay in Madison indefinitely. You can only imagine what the program has gone through with the varying forecasts, which now have the eye of the storm hitting the Gulf Coast-side of the state.
This post-game quote from Kiffin about preparing for the game with the hurricane coming, which will affect the entire state with rain, winds, and storm surge due to its size, was telling:
“Obviously, there’s a lot going on. We didn’t know if we were coming. At one point, I thought we weren’t coming. Our players didn’t want to come because there’s a lot of players not wanting to their leave their families. You’ve got kids coming into the office saying, ‘Coach, I know it’s a football game but I’m really the only one to take care of my grandma. We don’t know what’s coming.’ But there was a decision made to come play so with all of those distractions, I thought the guys stayed together in a difficult situation.”
It’s not just the Owls who had their sights on the weather. The Badgers have Florida natives like free safety Natrell Jamerson (Ocala) and cornerbacks Derrick Tindal (Fort Lauderdale) and Dontye Carriere-Williams (Miami).
Tindal, who said he has gone through a couple of hurricanes before, admitted he caught himself thinking about his family and the situation.
“All the concerns I had to just push to the side for today,” Tindal said. “My dad and them were still able to watch the game with the power still on.”
When asked again later, the senior defensive back elaborated further on the past couple of days.
“I’ve been nervous a lot, but I know my family is a strong family and they’ll stick together,” Tindal said. “My dad, he’s a strong person and he’s like the leader of the family, so he’ll take care of them.”
These situations make you realize football is just a game, and kudos to Wisconsin for assisting Florida Atlantic’s football team. To everyone in Florida who has been and will be affected by this disastrous storm, be safe and prepared, and know we’ll be there for you.
Play of the game
Wanna start with a spark? Seems like true freshman Jonathan Taylor has a knack for that. Last week, his 41-yard run to start the third quarter jump-started an offense that rolled over Utah State and generated 49 points in the second half.
Against FAU on Saturday, Taylor’s 64-yard touchdown run on the second series showed the explosiveness the young back brings to this offense. His 29-yard touchdown on the following drive was also a play of beauty as he made a handful of defenders look foolish.
That game-breaking run five minutes into the game got UW on the board quickly, and the Badgers never trailed despite failing to capitalize on a couple of opportunities.
Jonathan Taylor: See above, and see here for more on his 223-yard, three-touchdown performance. Also see below, where Taylor recaps his breakout game.
Chris James: With his first 100-yard game (101 yards on 16 carries), the Pitt transfer ran hard and joined Taylor in making up for Bradrick Shaw’s absence.
Chris Orr: Leading the team in tackles (eight) while recording a sack and a tackle for loss, the redshirt sophomore inside linebacker is playing well early on during the 2017 season.
The outside linebackers: Leon Jacobs, Garret Dooley, and Andrew Van Ginkel each had a sack (three of the team’s five sacks) and altogether five of the team’s 10 tackles for loss. Jacobs has shown he can make plays in the backfield.
Zach Hintze: Taking over for P.J. Rosowski due to injury (Hintze said after the game that Rosowski suffered a quad injury on Thursday), he booted four of his six kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. The kickoff unit didn’t miss a beat, and it’s due to the walk-on.