Indiana State Football Takes On Liberty
For the second straight week I was out on the road with the Indiana State Football team. This time the trip took us to Lynchburg, Virginia and the campus of Liberty University. I will be honest and say that before my planning for this trip I was not very familiar with Liberty University. It is amazing to see what they have built up in a short time. For an FCS school they really have some amazing facilities. Most of them would stack up at the level of or above the Big Ten facilities that I have seen around the league. It is really impressive. This was a game that I was not sure about when the schedule came out, but I was glad that I made the trip.
The Luck Of The Draw
This was the fourth college game that I have shot this season. In the previous three I really felt that luck was on my side. I was picking the right place to be quite often. When I went behind the play I was rewarded, and when I went in front of the play I was rewarded too. Saturday night I seemed to make up for all of that good luck. I seemed to just keep guessing wrong. Some of that was a much more wide open Indiana State playbook. When your team is running the ball or throwing short passes behind behind the line can work out very well for you. Every time that I tried that Saturday night I missed a great deep ball. I still made some good photos, but watching the recap I knew that I left a lot on the table as well. Games like this help motivate me to do better next time. I still have a long way to go as a photographer, and sometimes you have to get knocked down a little for that to sink in.
The Liberty Fans
This really is an amazing fan base. They were out in force and painted up early on. I don’t know how you build a football program out of nothing, but if you want to know the people at Liberty are a good group to ask. They have really excited the fanbase, and they are doubling the size of the stadium to accommodate new fans that want to hop on the band wagon. They were tough on the players, but they were also good fans. I chatted with several groups of them about what they were wearing, and they were very nice to me. You can’t ask for much more than that on the road.
Have A Game Bob
Indiana State receiver Bob Pugh had a game Saturday night. He caught eight balls for 260 yards and two touchdowns. He was the guy running the wrong way on many of those deep ball shots that I missed. Now that I know what you are up to Bob I will prepare better when you play Illinois State.
Getting In Tight
With Liberty backed up against their own end zone a few times Saturday night I was able to get some nice tight shots of some of the ISU defenders. There are certain positions that really don’t get covered enough as they are covered up from most angles. Up close and tight I was able to get in and get something of nearly everyone up on the line for Indiana State. The moments just before or after the snap can be the best time as the concentration is at its peak. Early on in the game when I had some light to work with I had the 1.4x converter on my 400 to get in a little tighter as well.
An Absurd Minute
The last minute or so of game time was crazy. Tyler Wooten the Sycamore SID for football put it best when he called the ending of the game absurd. It all started with a couple of minutes left when Liberty missed a field goal. They didn’t just miss the field goal. The ball hit the bottom of the uprights and bounced up in such a way that from my angle it could have gone in. It bounced out, and Indiana State was still down one. ISU kept converting on 4th down to keep the game alive. With around 4o seconds on the clock they finally were stopped ending the game…but wait. The officials come out and say that despite the play going live that Liberty called a timeout before it started so it was fourth down again. A big completion kept the game alive. The Sycamores kept marching until they had a great catch around the five yard line. There it seemed like they let a lot of time expire before spiking the ball. With five seconds left the only option was to kick the chip shot field goal to win the game. I was in the end zone for the spike, but moved to the side of the field for the field goal. My thinking was to get next to the ISU bench for the field goal. I would get the kickers reaction as he celebrated and turned back towards his teammates rushing at him. I would then sprint out to follow the coach and get some on field jubilation. Of course I would run with the team to the locker room to get the celebration in there as well. I even had the spot outside the locker room picked out to ditch my 400mm lens quickly as I ran by. So all of this is worked out in my mind as ISU sets up for the kick. The ball is kicked and I am locked on Jerry the kicker. He reacts weird, and it is then that I see the Liberty players celebrating in my background. I still have not seen what happened, but I guess a Liberty player got a mitt on the ball. For the second time in three weeks my plan of capturing Coach Mallory’s first win went down the tubes during the last seconds of the game. The wins will come though. This coaching staff is too good for them not to. Part of the reason to cover this first season so close is that it is the start of something special.
A Great Staff
When I left Tennessee I thought that I had seen what a photo staff should look like. They are sponsored by Canon, and there was a fleet of them. They were very much into what they were doing though so I wasn’t able to talk to any of them. That is okay as we are all doing our jobs. At Liberty for the longest time I was in the media room alone. Then the fleet of Liberty photographers showed up. They were there fairly early, and they made sure that everything was working fine for me. They set me up on the ultra fast internet and checked in on me quite a bit. That is how it should be if you are the home team photographer. I really need to keep that in mind when other teams come to town. Their over the top generosity made it very easy to have a good day. The unexpected hug after the tough loss was a great gesture as well.
What Is Up Next?
This is the first weekend coming up in a while that I do not have anything booked for sports. A bye week for Indiana State football combined with my daughters birthday means for a light weekend for me. I still plan on catching some of the Purdue game against Michigan. It will be fun to see the Boilers play again. They have been playing some very good football to date. A win against Michigan would be program changing. A little momentum would turn into a lot of momentum. I probably will not over shoot the game as I really have no outlet for those photos. It is weird but I feel like such an outsider on the Purdue sidelines. The good football is enough to get me back into the stadium though. The last weekend in September will get busy again as Indiana State travels down the road to Illinois State. This is always a road trip worth taking as it goes right past the Beef House in Covington. Come to think of it so do all of my trips to Indiana State. Why don’t I stop there more often.
Finding The Fun Again
If you followed this blog over the summer you probably noticed a shift in my tone as it relates to sports. The baseball season really flamed out for me, and my fall was not falling into place. At some point you have to question what you are doing. I made the plan to get through this year, and then evaluate how this whole thing is going. I don’t want to be that guy that has been shooting on the sidelines for thirty years just for fun. That is great and everything, but I want to contribute to something. That is what drives me to improve and get shots. I find that when I am not shooting for anyone I just wait for the photos to come to me. These last few weeks building up some shots of the teams for the Sycamores has shown me that this can work. I feel that I am fairly decent at what I do, but I will be honest and say that without the gigs with ISU I might have already packed up this show. The jobs locally have dried up, and the cost of this business is too high to constantly shoot for free. If this is the last year for this project I am going to go out shooting what I want to shoot. Right now though I am having so much fun making photos that I don’t see this being the last year. Just in case though I am shooting every event like it could be my last.
The Week In Photos
Each week I put together an Exposure page with some of my favorite photos from the previous week. Here is the post for last week. This is a fun exercise for me, and a great way to put some of my photos out there that normally would not be out.
Saying Goodbye To A Friend
This game in Liberty marked the last time that I will work with Tyler Wooten at Indiana State. A couple of years ago I reached out to Tyler to shoot see if I could shoot a football game at ISU to add to my portfolio. At the time I was trying to get some shots in there not taken at Purdue. That one game turned into a great relationship that has really invigorated my career. That one email led to some great jobs, and many more shots in the portfolio than I could have imagined. Tyler is great at what he does, and now he will do that at Ole Miss. The SEC awaits him, and I wish him nothing but the best of luck. Over the last couple of years we have worked together, travelled together, and even roomed together (sorry about the snoring). Now I guess I will have to find someone else at ISU to annoy all of the time. Good luck at Ole Miss Tyler!