Tyler Warner's Saturday Bowl Diary|
Dec. 18, 2011
The morning started with a nice, 32 degree practice, at 8 a.m. Sounds great doesn't it? For some guys on the team, it may have been. There were 15 seniors, including myself, that had our last practice at "The Joan". The Joan has been a very special place to practice and play over the course of four years. Thanks to the help of our great fans, we have been able accumulate the best home record percentage in all of college football. Putting that aside, the practice was a very good one. One of the best things about practice was being able to anticipate where we were going once practice was over.
St. Petersburg, Florida has been the main focus on all our minds for the past two weeks. The entire team was hoping to get a shot at this bowl for many reasons. Reasons like family members being able to go, going home for Christmas, a solid opponent, and being able to play in a venue where it is indoor (especially for the kickers!).
The plane trip here was a great opportunity for a lot of my teammates and I to catch up on some sleep. Once the pilot came on the loud speaker to announce he was starting the descent, it seemed like everyone woke up and opened their window covers at the same time to look outside. I was able to take a couple of nice pictures of St. Petersburg from the airplane. Going from a morning of freezing cold weather, to an afternoon of sunny, 75 degree weather was a definite plus. Once we got to the hotel, I was in amazement of how nice it was. The coaches gave us about two and a half hours to get to the room, get settled in, and relax.
When those two and a half hours were up, the team had a meeting with Brett Dulaney, the executive director of the bowl, who, like me, happened to graduate from Parkersburg (WV) High School. I am looking forward to talking with him and thanking him for having us in his bowl.
A cruise ship was our destination for dinner this evening. It was three stories high and they placed us on the first floor with FIU on the second. The dinner consisted of filet mignon, grilled chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes, not to mention a great piece of chocolate cake for dessert. The dinner cruise was pretty cool because we were able to see city lights of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg at night.
After the cruise, Coach Holliday gave us some time to get out and see what all St. Petersburg has to offer so Kase Whitehead, Omar Brown, Evan McKelvey and I went out in search for some fresh seafood. Finally after asking about four or five different people, we found a restaurant by the name of "The Oyster Bar". It definitely did not disappoint. On the way back to the hotel, I noticed all of the Christmas lights in the parks of St. Petersburg. It seemed weird to me to see Christmas lights when the weather was a nice 70 degrees outside.
Sitting here in the hotel room and writing this blog makes me think about how blessed and fortunate we are as a team. This season has been a season of highs and lows. We have accomplished many things people didn't think we could do. We beat our first BCS school in Louisville in a long while, beat the conference champions (Southern Miss), are 5-0 in games that are decided by seven points or less, had a program-record five C-USA wins, and all this with the nation's 15th toughest schedule. The hard work that we put in during the offseason and every day in practice is showing on the field through all the adversity that we have been able to handle. Ending this season with a bowl victory is everyone's focus right now. We can't wait until the foot hits the ball at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.