Thursday, June 28, 2012

Faces of Football

QT Preston
The first time I saw QT I liked her because of that smile.  She was smiling then, she's smiling now.  One of these days, if okay with her, I'll profile her in this blog. 

This was her rookie year in football and she did good.  It will be fun to get to know her and tell her story to you.

Today's post is just a collection of photos of Outlaws, up close.  Photos I like.  I hope you like them, too.

This is Tiffany, another happy player.  She's been with the Outlaws a long time, which is why I know her name.  I'm not going to name all the players below.  I'm terrible with names and player numbers don't show up in many of these photos.  Tiffany and QT are happy Outlaws.  I think the rest of the Outlaws in this post are also happy but you'll see that some are a little more serious.  At least they were when I snapped the photo.

I hope you can see the photo above the way I see it on my computer.  I love the serious expression.  This young Outlaw is fully engaged just about an hour before kickoff.  And I like is the quality of the focus, the clarity of the image.  I shoot action and candid shots.  Often the exposure is imperfect, the focus slightly off.  This photo is sharp and clear, about as good as I get.  So I like her expression and I like my perfect picture.

Football is serious.  Fun, sometimes funny, but it involves hitting and hitting is serious.  Many of my candid shots involve various forms of serious.  Such as the three below.

Smiling Outlaws.  Serious Outlaws. Silly Outlaws?  Well, normally I'm the silly one but sometimes...

In my previous post I acknowledged something you've already noticed - I'm kind of silly.  Silly thoughts, silly photos.  Football is serious but I'm not playing or coaching, I'm a (wannabe) photographer looking for pictures to post on my blog. 

Ereka Howard has become one of my favorite photo subjects.  She represents the range from serious to silly to interesting.  Here are two photos of Ereka.  The first is silly.  She saw my camera pointed her way during a game and knew I needed help getting a fun photo.  Silly?  Thanks Ereka.

Ereka Howard, clowning for the photographer.  I don't like the black mouthpieces.  When I played
I don't think we used mouthpieces.  Now players use a variety of colors.  Who would think the moutpiece
would become a fashion statement.  "I matches your uniform,,,"

Ereka also gave me one of my all time favorite photos.  This was accidental  led to an interesting shot that fits the faces of football theme.  Ereka's facial expressions are always interesting.  Always expressive

She was running a pass pattern with her usual exuberance.  The ball was sailing toward her and her facial expression says it was going to be a difficult catch.  Unnoticed by her and by me one of the coaches stepped in front of my camera appearing as a ghostly apparition in the right side of the frame.  Everything came together for a perfect picture. Ereka's eyes appear to be on the ghost.  Her expression shocked, frightened, appropriate to the situation.  I don't know if this really fits the theme of "faces of football" although it truly is just that.

Finally another accidental faces-of-football photo.  My last post was a playful look at the biggest Outlaw, Maile, and the smallest Outlaw, Rubi.  I had asked them if "they'd join me in a little fun project."  They agreed and we spent a little time at the park shooting dozens of photos intended to playfully illustrate the size differential.  Most of the photos didn't get used.  There's only so much space in the blog and, sadly, many of the shots didn't do what I was trying to do. 

As I looked for photos for this post, I revisited the Rubi/Maile photo shoot and I found the picture below.  In fact, it is part of a larger photo we didn't us.  Remembering when I was a kid (a loooong time ago) I recalled parents having sons, daughters, cousins, stand back-to-back to see who was growing fastest (a contest I often won).  I figured if it worked for kids it would work for Outlaws and I had had the players stand back-to-back.  I was wrong.  I didn't work with Rubi and Maile.   

But the theme of this post is faces and when I revisited the back-to-back I zoomed in to faces.  And I like the result.  Not silly, not serious, not eerie.  Just two Outlaws, a quarterback and linewoman, enjoying teaming up, this time not to win a game but to help me with my blog.

Rubi and Maile


Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Long and the short...

A woman  writer lamented that there are support groups for just about everybody.  Whatever it is that makes you different from some socital norm, there's a support group to help you cope.  Too tall?  Check Google for support groups for tall people.  You'll get millions of hits.  Too short?  Too thin?  Same.  Too fat? I'm hitting close to home; there are some who suggest I fit this category and would enroll me in one of the weight-loss groups identified in 148,000,000 Yahoo hits for fat people support.

Not many would enroll me Mensa, a group for people with high IQs. 

I searched for support for silly people which describes me.  There were lots of hits but most offered support for you, people who have to put up with us silly people.

There are lots of groups with "anonymous" in their names, inspired by alcoholics anonymous.  Debtors anonymous, gamblers anonymous, messies anonymous (for messy people - they should be playing defense in football, which you know if you've read a recent blog post), social phobics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, overeaters anonymous... you get the idea.

The woman writer who inspired this web search complained that there are no support groups for "normal" people.  Of which she claims to be one.  A normal person.  She is neither tall nor short, fat nor thin. not super smart nor dumb.  She isn't given to any of the habits that inspire groups anonymous.  She is neat but not obscessive. 

Why, she lamented, aren't there support groups for normal people?

And I got to thinking.  Are there enough normal people to form a group? 

Nope.  And that's good.  This world is an interesting place because of the differences in people.  Don't you think?  I'm glad we aren't all "normal," whatever that means.  I tire of people trying to make us all the same by forming groups to help change us, conform us.  Viva la difference.

Rubi extending arm so Maile
can walk under.
This long introduction is a lead in to what I hope is a fun blog post.  One reason I love football is that it accepts people who are different.  If you're bigger than average, the team needs you.  If you're smaller, there's a place for you.  Tall or short, come on.  If you can play, we'll find a place for you.  I've posted on this general subject before - I think I used the label "Bein' big."  If I were a good blogger I'd put the link here.  This post is inspired by two of my favorite Outlaws, both of whom will be profiled one day soon.  I noticed something about them and asked them if they'd join me in a little fun project.
One is Maile Capers-Cristobal.  The other is Rubi Reyna.  I noticed that one of them is the tallest Outlaw, the other the least tall.  And I suggested we do a blog post visually depicting the difference.

One visual way to represent tallerness is to hold your arm out to the side and have the shorter person walk under you.  As in the photo above, Rubi is extending her arm and Maile fits nicely under.  It helps if you cheat just a little and raise arm above a strict horizontal position. 

See how we pulled off the
first photo - we cheated.
Call it photetic license.
It helps even more if you stand on a park bench.  In fact, Rubi is 5'2" and Maile 6'1".  Almost a foot taller.  There's a weight differential, too.  Maile's weight has her well suited for line play, Rubi's for scooting through small gaps in the line for large yardage gains.  The point is that football has players both large and small and the difference is sometimes substantial.  We met at a park and spent a little time trying to create visual images to illustrate.

Really Maile is the one whose
outstretched arm about clears
Rubi's head.
Getting a little more serious we reversed roles in the walk-under-my-arm visual and put Maile in the true perspective.  If you are an astitute observer you'll notice we had to put Maile on a slightly higher elevation.  She says it was because Rubi has her hair combed in a style that exaggerated her true height.  You be the judge.  I'm not going to quibble over an inch or two.

Perspective gained by having Rubi
stand in front of Maile.
I like this shot (above) because it gives a perspective.  Maile's eleven inch height advantage isn't quite enough to have Rubi stand directly in front of her, which was my original vision for the shot.  Still, imagine Rubi carrying the football and looking up over her left shoulder and seeing Maile.  And being so happy they are on the same team.

You generally don't see quarterbacks or running backs in a three point stance facing off agains a linewoman.  And you can see why in the photo below.  Notice my models are having fun.  I asked Rubi to turn to the camera and look afraid.  She tried but she and Maile are friends and she just couldn't generate fear.

Rubi is happy she's not a linewoman.  Though I've seen her in games throw blocks at
defenders who were much larger than she. 

It can be fun having strong
friends.  Rubi riding on
Maile's shoulders.

There's a smart aleck question often directed by average size people to tall people:  "How's the weather up there?"  To which one of my tall cousins returned a smart comment about it being fine, how is it down there around my...  Rubi didn't ask such a question of Maile but did get an opportunity to check both the weather and the view from 6'1" above the ground.  Maile is strong.  Very strong.  Carrying Rubi was no test for her.  Not at all.

This post is getting a little long.  I'll be making future posts on the subject of people being different from socital "norms" and the world being a better place because of it.  I've focused in the past on being big because I've experienced that.  Maybe I'll expand the discussion to include being small. Or average? 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nice People

When the action on the field slows down, I aim my camera at the fans.  And get some really cool photos.  Proving good photography isn't the photographer, isn't the camera, it is the subject(s).  Today I'm just posting some of my favorite shots of fans from the Houston game, Saturday, June 16.

I usually don't do well if my subject knows I'm taking the photo.  Other times it works out okay.  In the photo above, the folks knew I was shooting them, and happily hammed it up for me when they saw the camera pointed their way.  This post is in the category "nice people."  They're all nice people.  

The couple in the following photo are also aware of the camera.  Well, she is.  She's trying to get him to notice me.  And I think she's failing.  His eyes seem focused just over my left shoulder.  Her's are right on target.  I haven't met them but I like them. 

Sometimes I know the subject of my photo.  The one above, in the red shirt, is Jo-Anne Capers.  She has two daughters playing on the Outlaws, Malia and Maile.  The daughter's share a hyphenated last name, Capers-Cristobal.  This is the first time I've noticed mom has a hypnenate first name, Jo-Anne.  One of these days I'm going to do a posting on the fascinating subject of hyphenated names.  And I'll start with the Capers-Cristobal family. 

They're from Hawaii.  I think I'd rather be to-Hawaii than from-Hawaii but Austin is a pretty good substitute for Waikiki.  I think Jo-Anne is attempting to do a hook-em horns sign but she hasn't mastered the art yet.  Close but no cigar. 

The photo below is of three of my long time favorite people.  And I'm happy to announce to you that, for the first time ever, I can give you the names of man behind the binoculars and the woman in pink.  I've posted photos of them many times but never knew their names.  I consider them friends.  They always wave at me.  They come to all Outlaws games and I have often chatted with them, but being me, I've never asked their names.  At Saturday's game, I learned their names.  And I'm proud to report the way I learned.  The other person in the photo is KJ Scheib, former Outlaw.  KJ has been reading my blog.  KJ noticed I didn't know the names of these important fans.  KJ called me over and introduced me. 

 The nice lady in pink is Beatrice and the gentleman is Ellis.


I don't know most of the people I photograph.  If you know any of them please give them a link to my blog so they'll see I'm making them famous.  The ones I don't know capture my attention because... well, I don't really know.  Certainly one reason is because I think they look good.  I'll never post an image if I don't find the subject attractive.  Sometimes handsome or beautiful.  More often "nice" looking.  They look like people I'd enjoy meeting.  Like the couple in the following photo.  They just look like nice folks, don't they.

Or the young lady below.  I didn't notice until I posted her picture that she is wearing a label, "Bad Girl."  I wonder if that's "bad" in the good sense of the term.  Like a "bad" car meaning  a really cool good car.  I had two photos of this bad girl.  The first was candid, the second is the one I've posted where she knew I was pointing my camera in her direction.  Once again, I posted this because she looks nice. 

Then there are the kids.  I love getting pictures of kids at the games.  I've said the good photograph isn't about the camera or photograrpher but the subject.  Somehow kids make wonderful subjects.  The young man in the photo to the left is interested in something out there.  There must be a break in the action on the field so whatever is interesting him, it isn't football.  I just like his expression, the Cheetos in his hand.  One of these posts soon, I'll feature lots of kid photos. 

The photo below, the last in today's post, I like a lot.  At half time the Outlaws gathered on the field and invited young fans to come and get photographed with the players.  I have several photos of this event - MaryLou did a better job covering it.  My photos are candids.  Taken from off center.  I'll post others from the event someday. 

The one I've posted here features one my most favorite people.

That is Lily Messina.  She is one of the founders of the Outlaws.  She is the key person behind the remarkable success of this organization.  I have many photos of Lily.  I've posted her profile elsewhere in this blog.  She has often shown up in action shots, as offensive guard or center. 

This photos captures for me just how special Lily is. 

You'll appreciate it a little more if you notice she's in uniform. A couple years ago Lily had a serious injury to her foot.  She played a season in spite of the injury and then retired.  And came out of retirement because they needed her on the field; it is always difficult to keep enough players healthy and active, especially enough to play in the offensive line. Lily came out of retirement becuaes the team needed her.  Lily retired again and this season devoted her time to coaching the line.  Until the center hurt her leg and was doubtful about playing in the final game.  Lily once again responded coming out of retirement for one game, for the good of the team. 

In this photo you can see Lily's love of the game, love of the people who come to the games.  She's letting a young fan try out her helmet.  And delighting in the moment. Delighting as she shares some of the experience of being an Austin Outlaw.  For twelve years Lily has been enabling dozens or hundreds of women to experience being an Austin Outlaw.   

This blog post is about nice people. 

 I know none nicer than Lily Messina. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Future Outlaw QB; Answers to Some Questions

I have too much to do with today's post.  Don't even know where to start.  

In the last post and one before that, I raised some questions.  This because I'm naturally shy and quiet.  I'll be wondering something but then I won't ask.  So I had three questions unasked and ergo unanswered.  But I did ask them in my blog and now I have the answers you've been waiting for.  And I'm going to share them with you below.

But first I want you to meet a future Outlaw's quarterback.  I don't know her name - I was too shy to ask.  Maybe I'll have her name by my next post. 

Before the game she was out tossing the ball around with some friends.  And I got to watching.  She was throwing a good long distance.  Nice spiral.  So I got some photos of her. 

Later I saw her helping some guy - I think this is her dad because he acts kind of proud of her the way a dad will - helping with the chains.  She's learning about the game up close and personal. 
Okay, now about those unanswered questions. 

First is about Deidra Holland.  I was intrigued at the way she was jumping just as the ball was snapped.  I notice this was only on plays where she was going to get the hand off and I wondered if this might be a mistake, tipping off the defense about who they'd have to block.  Or maybe - forgive me Deidra for this silly suggestion - all the abuse running backs receive had her jumpy.  She told me, nicely, "I am not worried about the hit.  It comes with the game."  
Then she explained the hop.  If you study football you know things happen fast.  Quarterback takes the ball from center and tucks it into the arms of a runner who is already running.  Runners tend to be fast, which is how they get the job.  What if the runner is too fast?  What if she runs so fast she gets to the quarterback before the quarterback is ready to make the hand off?  Fumble! 

Timing is something teams work at in practice.  It takes total awareness on both quarterback and running back of just how long - we're talking fractions of a second - it takes for the quarterback to get the ball from center, turn, transfer the ball to her right hand, and put it where the runner can wrap her arms around it; and long it takes the runner to move from her set position to where the quarterback will have the ball. 

Impressively Deidra has worked on the timing and has it down to a fine science.  Her little hop, her jump, is a timing adjustment.  It delays her launch toward the line just long enough to allow Cookie to turn with the ball. 

Impressive just how much goes into playing a violent game like football. 

The second question had to do with a funny photo of my friend Ereka Howard high in the air and also in the arms of a tackler.  It struck me as an odd position to occur in a football game and I wondered in my blog post what was happening.  Ereka caught up with me Saturday and said she was jumping.  Not the way Deidra was jumping to fix the timing.  Ereka had a theory.  Caught by a tackler, she thought that if she jumped on the tackler, her weight would be sufficient to knock the tackler down and she, Ereka, could land on her feet and run a few yards more.  That was her theory when she jumped.
I asked, "Did it work?"  She answered, "Nope."

A third question came from that amazing tackle by Charmeine Jackson in Saturday's game against Houston. 

I won't re-post that photo here.  You can just scroll down to the previous post to see it and the attending shots.  What struck me was the after-tackle photo, the one I am re-posting here.  I was intrigued by the expression on Maine's face.  She looked serious, almost angry.  I wondered what she was thinking right then. 
So I asked her, by facebook message if she was angry.  And she replied.  I like her answer enough to just post it here in her words: 

I think angry is a good word to use.  I've just learned to bottle all of my pain and frustration and release it during our games.  ... Right after the play I often ask myself what happened? I seem to go blank during the hit, the only thing I ever remember myself saying is go faster and hit harder and make sure that you use each player to be an example for the rest of their team. Even if they don't drop the ball I want them to know each time I'm going to come harder and faster than the time before. To me football is mental before the ball is snapped I need to get it in my head that I need to set the tone with players from the opposite side of the ball, because if I don't they will.

An earlier post in this blog was titled "Intensity."  One of the things I love about sports and love about photographing sports is the intensity.  I see individual digging deep within themselves to perform the very best they can.  I see players shaking off the pain of a severe hit and climbing back up to play again.  I see the months of practice, the conditioning, the working on timing, the studying of technique, the mental discipline. 

Sometimes I catch that with my camera.  As I did with Charmaine in Saturday's game.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday's Game - Charmeine's Big Hit; Telling on Deidra

You don't want to mess with
Charmeine Jackson
Does this young lady intimidate you?  Would you want to meet her on the football field if you had the ball?  Hint:  NO!

This is Charmeine Jackson, defensive back for the Austin Outlaws.  If you were at the game Saturday you remember her big hit.  Football is a collision sport.  One of the Houston receivers collided with Charmeine. 

At the games you don't get video replays.  So you have to hope I or MaryLou will have captured the moment with our cameras.  Don't know about MaryLou but I got it.  I got Charmeine's big hit.  I'm going to archive it as one of my best sports photos ever.    You're going to get a chance to see it but please remember all my photos and words are copyrighted.  You can view but I'm the only one who can reproduce and sell. 

This big-hit photo is coming later in this post.  Because I'm not a good blogger.  I have all this stuff along the right side of the screen.  If I post a really large photo early in the blog posting, the photo overlaps the stuff.  Don't like that at all.  The only way I know to fix it is to write words and post normal size photos until the post is long enough to get below the stuff.  And that's what I'm doing with Charmeine's big hit photo.  Saving it for the bottom where I can post it L-A-R-G-E.  Because it is a large hit.

But don't worry.  I'm not going to bore you between here and there.  I have a fascinating little series of shots of Deidra Holland.  If you know her or have her email address, please ask her about these photos.  Remarkable.

I've never played poker but I'm told really good poker players watch other players at the table, looking for any unconscious action that will give away the player's hand.  Maybe every time he has a good hand he blinks or rubs his chin or yawns.  These little signals are call "Tells."  Watch for the tell to get an idea of what the player is holding.

Deidra jumping just before getting the handoff from Cookie.
I noticed in one of my photos Deidra doing something odd.  Just as the ball is snapped she jumped.  Both feet in the air.  I took a closer look and she really is jumping in this photo.  In the following photo (not posted) Cookie handed the ball to Deidra. 

Another play, another jump, followed by another handoff to Deidra.
I thought this a fluke but just a little later there was another snap and another jump.  This looks like the same photo but it isn't.  It is another play, another jump, another hand off to Deidra.

Then I started watching and sure enough, it happened again...

Yet another jump before getting the handoff.  Or is this a
half-jump since the left toe appears to be still on the ground?

Jumping again, before taking the handoff.  This the fourth
time I saw this action. 

Which got me thinking. Why? What was making Deidra so jumpy? The photo above may answer the question. Sometimes running the ball can be unpleasant.  
Running backs often find themselves in unfriendly hands.  Deidra here is surrounded by
Houston tacklers.  Maybe it is the memory of getting tackled that makes her
jumpy when she is about to take a handoff into enemy territory?

Okay, we're below the side-stuff.  Let's check out the Charmeine Jackson tackle.  It starts with a pass reception by the Houston receiver.  I have a poor photo of the catch but lets take a look at the photo right after the catch.  Study the receiver's face.  Is her brow furrowed?  Is she worried?  She should be.  Look at Charmeine's body language.  It looks like she's flexing her bicep and making a fist to intimidate the receiver.  And it appears to be working. 

Receiver just has to get by one tackler to make it to the
end zone.  She doesn't make it.

And now, here's the big hit, the hit that has made my all time hit list. 

All four feet off the ground.  This a devastating hit.  This is football the way it was
designed to be played.  Check the reaction of the sideline.

 The follow through is remarkable, too.  Charmeine lands on her feet...

Charmeine comes down on her feet, keeps her balance...
...and strides away from the scene looking for anyone
else who might want to invade her territory.

And strides away with that look in her eye that says "Don't you be invading my territory." 

The Houston player got the wind knocked out of her but was otherwise okay after the big collision.  Remarkably she maintained control of the ball.  In football big hits by defensive backs are intended to shake the ball loose, and the often succeed.  But this Houston receiver,  Smith?, kept control of the ball.  Tough girl.

Coming in future posts - lots more photos of Saturday's game and of the Outlaws season.  It was a difficult season, disappointing in many ways.  But many of the players impressed this old sports fan.  I'll be telling you about some of them.  I need to post more profiles like the one I did on Cookie awhile back (that only took about a year of communication back and forth with her.  I may not be fast but I sure am slow.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Neat or Messy?

The preacher was Max Anders.  He was making a point at Grace Covenant Church in Austin.  Max was drawing a contrast between himself and his wife.  I don't remember the words he used to describe himself but the point was he isn't very neat.  In contrast to his being messy, he said his  wife is... "Tidy". 

That's a word I've never used in normal conversation:  Tidy.  Tidy as in neat, orderly,

Finally, all these years later, I have a reason to use the word.  In a blog about football.  Are you ready?

If I were coaching a football team (bad idea) and I had a lot of new players, I'd ask each if she is tidy or not tidy.  How much does "tidy" describe you?  And that's how I'd decide whether to play that player on offense or defense.    Tidy?  Offense.  Not so much?  Defense. 

Many years ago I read an article by a sportswriter who observed the lockers of professional football players. He noticed some lockers were tidy, some messy. He sought a pattern and discovered that players on offense tend to be tidy; players on defense not so much.  So that would be my guiding light.  Tidy, offense; messy, defense.

It makes sense, doesn't it?  The role of the defense is to mess things up. 

The offense has a plan, a play in mind.  They're working from a playbook.  As in the diagram printed here, borrowed from a free website. Offense players are represented by "O"s; Defense by "X"s.  See the plan, each offensive player has an assignment to handle a particular defensive player.  Neat.  Orderly.  Tidy.  Everyone accounted for. 

The defense has a plan, too.  Spoil the offense plan.  Mess everything up.  Offense loves tidy; defense loves messy.  In the locker room or on the field.

In the game everyone lines up and everything looks all neat and orderly.  The center snaps the ball to the quarterback.  The quarterback hands it to the running back.  The "O"s start blocking the "X"s...

Cookie  handing off to #47 Lisa Holewyne. 

What a mess.
...then the defense messes it all up.  People who were supposed to get out of the way refuse.  Instead they all crowd in. Creating a big disorderly mess.  In the second photo all the order is gone.  You can't even see running back Lisa Holewyne unless you study very carefully.  She is holding the ball in her left arm, which is over the back of Rubi Reyna, who is being tackled by one of the Dallas Diamonds while another Diamond is grabbing Lisa's arm.  If you're a player on offense, this photo makes you uncomfortable.  It is messy.  If you're a player on defense, you're smiling.

As I contemplated this profound concept, I browsed my photos for examples.  As I am wont to do, I started noticing photos that maybe don't exactly match my message but did make me smile just a little. 

Defense messing things up and not very tidy in doing it.
Like this photo.  The Dallas Diamonds are on defense.  Sometimes the camera catches players in an awkward position.  Number 47.  If she were on offense she'd hate this photo.  But she plays D and she is enjoying wreaking havoc on a hapless running back.  Messy.  Not tidy.

I like the photo below for a couple reasons.  In this the Outlaws are on defense.  I like that they're doing good.  And I like that the photo does illustrate my point.  About not tidy.  Note how the offense players are all lined up in a neat row defining a line the Outlaws are not allowed to cross.  Just like in the diagram in their playbook.  But, wait!  The Outlaws #33, Tara Andrickson, isn't respecting the line.  She is behind it.  As is another Outlaw at the left.  And yet another low at the right.  Messing up the Dallas tidy little plan.  Yes!!!
At least three Outlaws messing up the Dallas plan.

Hmmm.  Where to go?
I'm including this photo (right) even though it doesn't advance my point at all.  Well, maybe.  I'm sure the Outlaws playbook doesn't show #34 Adriene Futrell taking on three tacklers all by herself.  So we know the defense is messing things up yet again.  I sometime like photos like this because of the feeling of suspense.  Something bad is about to happen.  Or will she elude the tacklers? 

If you see Ereka, please ask her to tell us about this play.  I don't think that's how it was
designed in the playbook.
Unlike the anticipation in the last photo, there is something happening in this one.  I just don't know what.  The runner - er, flier - is Ereka Howard.  She was one of my favorite subjects when I was shooting the Outlaws in practice, before they put on helmets.  I consistently caught her wonderful facial expressions. 

I asked Ereka about this play.  Was she jumping?  Or was the tackler picking her up?  Was she catching a pass?  Or what?  She didn't reply to my email so we're left to wonder.  Not a tidy way to end a post on tidiness.

Okay, then I won't end it with that photo. 

Instead how about a survey.  At the bottom of each blog post is an opportunity for you to comment.  I'd be interested in comments, especially from players or from people who know some players, about whether there really is a correlation between tidy and offense, messy and defense.   So if  you're a player, do you play on offense or defense?  And are you tidy or not so much? 

You don't have to include your name.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rough Season

I'm an Outlaws fan.  Before I post a photo I make certain it reflects positively on my team.  If I have photos of the team doing poorly, you aren't going to see them. 

This has been a rough season.  A rebuilding season with something like 70% rookies.  I browse my photos looking for happy ones.  And I find a few.  And I'm going to post some here today. 

First I want to look on the sunny side just a little bit.  Saturday the Outlaws lost to the Dallas Diamonds.  The Outlaws scored six points.  In four of their six previous games the Diamonds held their opponent to zero points.  Two teams scored eight - which I take to be a touchdown with two-point conversion.  The Outlaws scored six.

But there's more - establishing your offense is the most difficult job when building a new team.  Defenses do stunts, line up in funny places.  You'll think you're making the block and someone is sneaking around behind your back.  Offense takes a long time to get organized.  This season the Outlaws scored in their first game and were then shut out in four straight games.  Like I said, offense is difficult.  Last Saturday we scored nineteen points at Tulsa, against a team about evenly matched with the Outlaws.  This Saturday we scored six against the toughest team in the league. 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is progress. 

Okay, let's take a look at some photos from the Mustangs game, four weeks ago.  I'm starting with two two-photo sets.  They're going to look a little alike but they're two separate plays.  I'm posting them because of good blocking by the Outlaws.  This season has seen a lot of problems keeping tacklers away from the ball carriers but in these two photo-sets, the blocking was good!

In the first photo below, notice where the ball is and where the Mustang defender is, just to the left.  I suspect she is offside.  Generally the ball gets to the quarterback before the defense.  Cookie hasn't even caught the snap from the center and she's already in trouble.

But there's some help for Cookie.  Look at the photo below.  Number 56, Maile Capers-Cristobal, made the block and gave Cookie time to throw her pass.  Notice, too, the blocking on the right side of the Outlaws line is effective.  They just have to hold the attackers for about three seconds.  Sounds easy.  It isn't.

The two photos below tell a similar story.  In the first, the would-be tackler is well ahead of the ball.  Definitely offside.  But Maile gets between tackler and quarterback.  In the second photo the official gets between the camera and the action - I keep telling them to stop doing that!   But you'll see the blockers are protecting the quarterback.

Next is a series showing Cookie's talent at quarterback.  The blocking is pretty good in this series but Cookie's elusiveness and quickness is what intrigued me most.  There are four photos in the series.  The first has Cookie slipping out of the backfield while her blockers occupy most of the would-be tacklers.  I see one threat, a sneaky tackler between Outlaws numbers 55 and 62. 

In the second photo, Cookie swerves left attempting to avoid the Mustang linebacker.

I find myself cheering at my computer as I run these photos in sequence.  Even though I was at the game and I know this didn't go for a score, I'm cheering for Cookie. Even though, in the photo below, she appears to be in the grasp of the tackler.

She almost escapes.  Almost.  In the next and final photo of the series I'm showing her appearing to get loose. 

The tackler has enough of a hold on her that Cookie hits the turf. I'm not posting that photo (see my opening paragraph to this blog.)  It was exciting even several days later away from the field and in front of my photo-editor.

One more just for fun.  Cookie had a tough day against the Mustangs.  The blocking didn't always hold.  The Mustangs were good. 

I think I'll call this final photo, "Soft Landing."  If you're going to be stopped by the tacklers, it is good if you can find a soft place to land. 

Last game of the season is coming up Saturday.  Let's support the Outlaws.  They're getting better with experience.  It would be great to end the season with a win.