Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tackling in the Arkansas Game; New Website

Too much material.  Maybe a couple hundred action and entertaining photos I want to share with you.  I keep wanting to organize them in some fashion and provide my commentary on what is happening.  But with lots of things going I'm not having enough time to do things the way I'd like. 

What am I doing that's taking so much time?  Learning basic website design.  Hey, do me a favor and check my website.

So I'm going to browse my photos and find shots I think you will like, especially if you're one of the players in the shots. 

Today's photos give a freeze-frame view of #36, Francesca Stabel and #23, Davida Morris, bringing down Arkansas running back #11, Raquel Williams.  Outlaws #1, Toni Fuller, participates in the play.

Not much blocking for Raquel Williams.  Don't mistake her
for Erica Williams, the 280 pound running back.  Raquel is a
mere 150 pounds.  Note the long camera lens compresses
distance.  Ski, #8, is farther from the runner than it appears.
The Outlaw with arms wide open offering a big hug to
Raquel is #36, Francesca Stabel.  I like that she is getting low.

Stabel has grabbed the runner around the middle,
while #23 Davida Morris gets the low position, shoulder
in belt buckle, arms around legs.

Stabel and Morris have runner in their grasp, while one of
my favorites,Toni Fuller joins the party.  Close behind and
ready to help if needed is Ski and some other Outlaws.
This play is going nowhere.

She's coming down.  I wonder if Davida Morris remembers
this play.  It appears the runner's knee is coming down on her. 
Did that hurt? 

This is just a close up of the runner, Ski, and Toni.  I like the way the camera gets
facial expressions even though I'm forty or fifty yards away when I take the shot.

The runner is on the ground.

Hey, do me a favor and check out my new website.  I keep talking about being busy and maybe not having enough time to spend on the blog.  One reason is I'm trying to learn to do website design and maybe supplement my retirement income while I'm at it.  Here's a link  to the first website I've designed myself:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fan Photos

When there's no action on the field I turn my camera toward the bleachers and get photos of the fans.  From time to time I'll post some fan photos in the blog.  I don't know who these fans are so I can't email them and tell them to check my blog.  If you know them, please give them the link.

Permission to publish - If I post photos you'd rather not have on the internet, for any reason, please let me know which ones to delete and I'll remove them. 

Photographer's secret - if you select good subjects you'll look like a good photographer.   Case in point, the photos that follow.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

2013 Outlaws a really really good team

My compliments to Outlaw fans and players.  You know the 2013 Outlaws are a really good football team.  You aren’t letting the Dallas Diamonds games cloud your vision. 

(I don’t know how the Diamonds and a half-dozen other teams in the league got so good.  I just know they are.  The Diamonds outscored all opponents 411-20!  They scored 391 points more than opponents.  They averaged 58.7 points scored per game while giving up only 2.9.  They are ranked in the top four of the 49 teams in the league. )

Forget the three games against the Diamonds. 

Against all other opponents, the Outlaws scored 261 points, allowed 38.  That’s a 223 point advantage.   Among the 49 teams in the league, the Outlaws ranked #18 in points scored, #16 in points allowed. 

Their games were fun to watch.  Offense is fun to watch and the Outlaws had a lot of offense, averaging 37 points per game.  I love hard hitting defense. The Outlaws defense held opponents to an average of 5 points per game. 

I’ve been posting action photos in this blog and I have a couple hundred more to share with you in the coming weeks.  Cool action shots because of the outstanding play by Outlaw players.

The Outlaws had five players make the league All American team.  They are (in order of jersey numbers:

Toni Fuller, #1, Defensive Back

Joy Barry, #9, Wide Receiver, Kicker

Charmaine Jackson, #22, Running Back

Shadana Hurd, #24, Running Back

Sasha Avila, #62, Center

As I worked on this blog post, I noticed I have shown you lots of photos of Toni, Maine, and Shadana.  Backs get all the glory.  Not so many of Joy and Sasha.   I resolved to fix that with today’s post.  I searched my photos and found a lot of shots of Sasha, very few of Joy.

Joy is listed on the roster as a wide receiver.  It is a weakness of this photographer that I focus on the center of the field, trying to follow the ball from center to quarterback to running back.  I rarely get good shots of the outliers, the players farthest from the middle, the ends.   But then I noticed Joy Barry kicks the PATs (points-after-touchdown).  And I did have a photo or two of her doing that.  Although even in the PAT plays, I, being a former lineman, tend to focus on the line play.

Kicking Points-after-tochdowns is much much harder
than it looks.  Center has to get the ball to holder,
holder place it for the kicker...
Kicker has to time her approach, starting before the ball
is down, then has to hit it squarely.  This kice split
the uprights - one more point for the Outlaws.
So is the PAT kicker important? 

Remember the Houston game that was suspended because of bad weather and had to be finished here in Austin?  The score at the time of the suspension was Houston 14, Outlaws 12.  Two point differential.  Two missed PATs?  I’m speculating here; anyone who knows better please straighten me out in the comments section of this post.  But on the season, Joy hit 24 PATs in 26 attempts.  Missed only 2 out of 26.  I wonder if those 2 were in the first Houston game, still early in the season.  

Kicking PATs looks easy.  It isn’t.  It takes coordination between center, holder, and kicker.  The kick must travel about 27 yards, clear the goal post cross bar, and sail between the uprights.  Don’t be fooled by the way it looks in the NFL and college games.  It takes skill and practice. 

And it affects the outcome of the game.  We were losing to Houston 12-14.  We went on to win but those missed PATs could have cost us a win.  I only saw a couple Outlaw games this season.  I didn’t see a single missed PAT.  Joy kicked 24 of 26.  That is good.

Now to Sasha Aguila, #62.  The roster shows her as Offensive Line but I know she played center.  The center is generally the best athlete in the line.  The center starts each play bent over with one had reaching out to grip the ball, then handing or passing the ball back through her legs to the quarterback.  All the other line players have hands free and focus on attacking their opponent.  The center is delayed in attending to her opponent because first she has to get the ball into her backfield. 
I can't read the number on the player lined up against
Sasha.  But she's big.  And she doesn't have to worry
about getting the ball back to the quarterback.  When
the ball moves she has one msssion, attack.

Centers have to be quick and strong.  Quick enough to compensate for the time involved in snapping the ball.  Snap the ball and then fire forward to establish a block.  Strong enough to avoid getting knocked over by a hard charging defensive line player.  Sasha is 5'5" weighs 205.  Most of the defensive line players she faces are much bigger.

My photos of Sasha give you a good idea of how she won a spot on the All American team. 

Sasha is 5'5" and weighs just over 200 pounds.  Here she's taking on a larger opponent,
and clearly she is in control.  No way #62 is getting anywhere near the Outlaw ball carrier.
Following is a three photo series.  Sasha taking on 280 pound Erica Williams - and keeping her away from running back Shadana.
Sasha taking on 280 pound Arkansas Erica Williams.
Sasha is giving up nearly 80 pounds of weight
Sasha stays with the block.  The larger defender is going to
have to go around because she isn't going through Sasha.

And Sasha is successful.  The runner (#24) scampers away
around the left side of the field.
Imagine playing fifty plays in a game and every one pitting yourself against big strong oppoents. 
Sasha is in the middle of that mess somewhere.  Makes  me tired just looking at these shots.
Play after play after play, a physical struggle with big strong opponents.
And winning those one-on-one contests.
Viewing these photos, it is obvious to me why Sasha was named to the All American team.  She is good! 

She is one of many reasons the Outlaws are an outstanding team.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How Do You Eat an Elephant?; Playing Dallas this Saturday

Chances are I've forgotten your name.  Names are important but my memory just doesn't retain them.  Now really unimportant stuff, silly stuff, I remember.  In the 1960s there were ridiculously silly jokes about elephants.  Like how do you get four elephants in a Volkswagen?  Two in the front, two in the back.  Or how do you know an elephant has been in your refrigerator?  Footprints in the jell-o.  Why do I remember the silly but not the important?

But not all the elephant stuff was silly.  Like this one:  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

How do you defeat the Dallas Diamonds?  One match at a time.

By match, I'm talking one player against another.  Every play in a football game has eleven matchesm eleven offensive players taking on eleven defensive players.  If you team wins every match, the play will be a success for you.  Win every match in every play, you'll win the game.

This play went for a touchdown.  Maine has the ball and
scoots around the left end.  The Outlaws offensive line
is dominating the Houston defense. One-on-one.

This is an over-simplification but not much.  Coaches use whiteboards to diagram plays.  Their diagrams account for every player on the field.  They draw lines showing where the defensive player will be and showing the offensive player blocking taking that defender out.  If every blocker is successful in executing his/her assignment, the play will go for a big gain.  If not...

One of my coaches made this point on practice by having wrestling matches between players.  The team would form a circle around an open area.  Coach would pick two players and those two would wrestle each other.  The premise - if I'm  tougher than my opponent, if can dominate him in one-on-one combat, I'll be helping my team win.

When the Outlaws face the Diamonds, each player has a job - to beat one opponent.  On offense, every linewoman needs to beat the defender assigned to her.  Refuse to allow that player to get at my running back.  Control her, knock her over backwards, take her out of the play.  On defense, defeat the blocker who is in your path, secure the lane you're in, refuse to allow the runner to get by you.  And, sometimes tackle the runner in the backfield. 

Winning these one-on-one matches takes strength and skill.  Our team has been working hard for several months now.  They're strong.  But so are the Diamonds strong.  If two are equal in strength, skill determines the outcome.  Who fires off the line faster?  Who gets in a stronger - that is a lower - position.  In physical battles, there is leverage in being lower than the player you're fighting. 

I learned the importance of getting low in a practice scrimmage.  I was playing defensive tackle.  My line coach watched each play and between plays gave me direction.  He had me start low (the three point stance is low) and fire across the line driving the palms of my hand into the chest of the blocker, in an upper cut motion.  This would force the blocker to be more upright than I, and give me the lower position.  And control.  In one play the blocker was so frustrated he tried to punch me; I didn't notice, coach told me.  In another play coach told me I had made the tackle, not with my arms but by pushing the blocker back into the path of the runner.

I hate to admit how oblivious I was.  I really didn't understand the game, didn't know what was going on.  I just knew my job was to control the guy across from me.  That's the job for the Outlaws tomorrow.  Every player on every play, win the fight against the Diamond player across from you.

I looked for photos to illustrate this.  The following photo sequence kind of makes the point as Maine Jackson takes on a Houston defensive back, one-on-one, and frees Shadana Hurd to score.

Shadana's job is to run to the end zone.  Maine (red shoes) is
charged with leading the way and taking out any would-be

Two prospective tacklers here but really only one is in the play, the one Maine is engaging.
Telephotos lens tends to compress distance.  In the next photo #60 isn't even visible.
Note the yard line(s).  Initial contact between Maine and the defender is about the
fifteen yard line.

Maine is in a battle, one-on-one.  The action has moved five yards to the ten yard line.

The separation between Maine and the defender is a result of Maine's strength.  She
has driven the other player to the turf.  A clear and decisive win in this particular
one-on-one match-up.  Every football player should aim to win his/her match
this decisively, with the opponent tumbling over backwards.

The end of the sequence, Shadana scoring while the energy of Maine's block
has the defender on her back.  And note she has been driven all the way back
to the five yard line. 

The Outlaws mental focus Saturday should be to beat the player across from you.  On every play.  Like Maine did in this scoring play.  Do it and we could just pull off the upset.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Another Way

The last post featured my friend Ski Tejeda demonstrating one way to tackle a seriously large running back.  By getting low and hanging on.  Even if it means a 280 pound runner is going to land on top of you.  (I asked her about the play, did it hurt?  She said her original contact was higher, wrapping around the legs, but her helmet broke and she slid down, hanging onto a foot.  She doesn't recall feeling pain at being squashed but definitely the broken helmet hurt.)

Lucinda "CPR" "Precious"
Another of my favorite Outlaws is  eight-year veteran Lucinda "Precious" "CPR" Benitez, #21.  She plays the game the way I like it, hard hitting all-out full-speed.  She's not as big as Ski, weighing only 140 pounds, but she plays big.  Someday she'll be the subject of in my player profiles.  She's a fascinating person on the field and off.

Jennifer Taylor
Saturday CPR joined rookie Jennifer Taylor, #75, in taking down Little Rock's huge fullback, 280 pound Erica Williams.  I haven't met Jennifer but decided I liked her when she responded clowned around in front of my camera. 

Being a rookie, Jennifer can be excused for not doing things quite the way I would have coached her.  In this sequence of photos, you'll see she starts right but... well, let's just look at the pictures.

Outlaws #75 Jennifer Taylor has eluded her blocker and
has a clear shot at 280 pound Little Rock Fullback.  At just
215 pounds, Jennifer is going to have to overcome a
65 pound weight deficit.

The next photo is the same as the first but zooming in so you can see the faces of the players.  In a future post, I'll refer back to this one in explaining how the Outlaws can win against Dallas next Saturday.

I love the eyes, Jennifer's determination, the runner's surprise,
in the background Little Rock's blocker realizing her missed
block left the runner exposed, and Outlaws #99 Lakisha Jones
waiting for a huge collision.

In the next shot, you'll see Jennifer violating my "get low" advice.  Instead she gets high.  A big strong runner like Erica could just ignore Jennifer on her back, carry her piggyback down the field.  Unless CPR Benitez joins the battle.

Jennifer goes high.  Not the best strategy for taking down a runner.  But CPR arrives
and aims for the belt buckle.  The runner weighs twice what CPR does, literally,
280 pounds versus 140.  Does CPR look afraid?  Nope.

Jennifer pulls, CPR pushes.  CPR is so much smaller you can hardly see her but she's
there.  Her feet and arms are visible.

And the big full back goes down.  Notice her left foot off the ground.  This picture suggest
CPR is strong, strong enough to drive a 280 pound fullback into the air on the way
to the ground.  Can you see why I'm a CPR fan?  Note that Jennifer cleverly manages to
keep out from under the falling running back.  Smart.

There's CPR!  She came out on top.

In my next post I'm planning to talk about how the Outlaws can defeat the Dallas Diamonds.  This photo sequence gives a hint, in particular the second shot where Taylor has a clear shot at the fullback.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Few Photos from the Little Rock Game

Erica Williams, 280 pound fullback for
the Little Rock Wildcats
One of my favorite Outlaws it Ski Tejeda, grandma, thirteen-year veteran, and blue-collar linebacker.  She plays with reckless abandon and I love that.  I'm going to end this blog post with a series showing Ski being "reckless."  The photo here is a hint - the Ski series involves Little Rock #50, Erica Williams, a 280 pound line-woman and, would you believe, fullback. 

But first a couple fan photos.  I love Outlaw fans. 

Didn't get the name.  Trick to
photography - beautiful subjects
make photographer look good.
One of my favorite former Outlaws, Tiffany "Crash"
James.  Always a big smile. 

This was halftime.  Outlaws firmly in control 
Good time to take a little nap. 

Before the Ski series, here are a few photos giving you an idea of why the Outlaws have been so great this season. 

If you listen to NFL commentators evaluating running backs, you'll sometimes hear a player praised for being a blocker.  Running is where the glory is, picking up yards, hearing cheers.  Blocking isn't so much fun.  But you can't be the ball carrier on every play.  So what do you do when a teammate has the ball?  Watch?  No, you get out front and block.  If you're a really good player. 

Shadana and Maine are really good players.

Three great Outlaws.  Give one the ball and watch the others move out to run interference.
In front, #22 is Maine Jackson.  Next is #24 Shadan Hurd.  Carrying the ball is
#1, Toni Fuller.  Toni and Maine play a lot of defense for the Outlaws. 
This photo has three of our very best.

I just liked this photo of Shadana and Toni.

Thanks to the blocking by teammates, Toni picked up
a lot of yards.  I didn't write it down but I think
over 30  yards.

Now, about Ski Tejeda.

The Outlaws secret weapon was their new water boy - his name is Jacob Anthony Haney Blanco.  The Little Rock secret weapon was a 280 pound running back named Erica Williams.  Heavyweight runners don't go very fast but they're difficult to get down.  The NFL occasionally uses a lineman in short yardage situations.  They figure if they can get all that body weight moving, it will take the defense at least a few yards to get him down.

The key to getting a big runner down is to get low, grab a leg or two. Or an ankle. And hope teammates come along to finish the tackle. In this play, in photo below, Ski (#8) is doing that, getting low, grabbing an ankle.

How do you stop a 280 pound runner?  Get low, grab a leg or an ankle, and hold on until
teammates join you.  I love #8, Ski Tejeda, because she's always willing to do whatever
it takes, including getting down on the ground if she has to.

 But there is a certain risk to that tactic.  What if your teammates push the runner over backwards?  And what if you're in the LZ (Landing zone)?

Teammates are here to help finish the job, driving the runner backwards. 
And Ski in the landing zone.  This photo bodes ill for our star.

Is she going to land beside Ski? 
The 280 pound runner lands on Ski's back.  See her left foot under the runner's left shoulder.
The price of being a star.  A little pain.  And note a teammate involved in the tackle
is part of the load landing on Ski.  Ouch!

If you see Ski, ask her about the play.  Having 280 pounds landing on your back - does that hurt?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why the Outlaws Will Win Saturday; The Outlaws' Secret Weapon

First a caution – Playoffs are always dicey.  The Outlaws will have to play and play their best on Saturday.  Everything I say below assumes they’ll  bring their A game, ready for a tough opponent. 
That said, I predict an Outlaws victory over the Little Rock Wildcats. My analysis of both teams tells me the Outlaws are the better team.  Plus, the Outlaws have a secret weapon.

The Outlaws' secret weapon is in this photo.
 First my three-point analysis.

1.      Performance against common opponents – Advantage Outlaws

The Outlaws have a 6-2 record, Wildcats 5-3.  The Outlaws two losses were to the Dallas Diamonds, one of the four best teams in the league.  The Wildcats didn’t play any team of that caliber. 

The Wildcats three losses were to the Mustangs (14-20), Tulsa (8-28), and  Zydeco (22-30).  The Outlaws beat all three, the Mustangs twice, 28-14 and 38-0; Tulsa 50-10; Zydeco 48-0.  In our four games against common opponents, the Outlaws outscored the opposition 164-24.
The Wildcats did win rematches against two of the teams that defeated them, beating Tulsa 28-16 and Zydeco 30-0.   In their five games against common opponents, they outscored the opposition 102-94 (only an 8 point advantage, compared with the Outlaws 140 point advantage against the same opponents.)  This tells me the Wildcats improved as the season progressed. 

They’re a better team coming to the playoffs than they were during the regular season.

Still, against common opponents, the advantage clearly goes to the Outlaws.

2.     Number of Players – Advantage Outlaws

The Wildcats’ roster has thirty players; the Outlaws forty-four.  In a tough game on a warm Austin evening, a strong bench can influence the outcome of the game.  The Outlaws’ fourteen player advantage could become a factor.

3.     Size of Players – Advantage Outlaws (I think)

You know I’m a big guy so I believe bigger is better.  If you weigh 240 and line up against a line- woman weighing 300, you’re at a definite disadvantage.  In line play, bulk is definitely an advantage.  The Wildcats have one player who weighs 300 pounds or more, the Outlaws have three.  However, the Wildcats do have six players weighing in at 250 pounds or more, the Outlaws have four.  Still, I'll take our three 300+ pounders as a significant advantage for the Outlaws.

The average weight of all Wildcat players is 187; the average of all Outlaws is 176.  But remember, in football big is an advantage in the line while quickness and speed are more important in the backfield and end positions.  The Outlaws weight distribution suggests a more balanced team.  Once again, my analysis says advantage to the Outlaws.

The Outlaws Secret Weapon

The Outlaws' secret weapon -
the water boy.
Waiting for the start of last Saturday’s game I sat on the Outlaws bench and visited with a handsome  young man who wore a Capers-Christobal jersey (honoring players Malia and Maile Capers-Christobal).  It happens the young man is the water boy. He joined the Outlaws this season.  We discussed the Outlaws amazing improvement in 2013 compared with our poor record in 2012.  Then we discussed the importance of maintaining hydration in high powered athletes.   We concluded that it wasn’t just coincidental that when my friend joined the team, the Outlaws started winning.  In fact, we concluded, the water boy is the reason for this winning season. 

The Outlaws’ secret weapon – a conscientious water boy.  (And a water girl, too, as I observed during game timeouts.)

Water boy administering hydration to star Maine
Jackson.  I'm confident she attributes some of her
success to his ministrations.
Actually, there were two young folks providing hydration Saturday.  Our water boy
should share some of the credit with the water girl, don't you think?
You can draw your own conclusions about this but I think the facts speak for themselves.

I should have asked his name, and hers.  Or did I?  And forgot.  This old blogger…