Dec. 19, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Jason Peters and several other players will practice today for the final time at Georgia Tech before picking up the trail again next week in El Paso.
The fact that in between today and next Monday the Yellow Jackets will spend their Christmases at home might be a big deal with regard to their chances of winning the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
“I’ll be with my family over the holidays. I love this time of the year,” said Peters, the fifth-year defensive end whose school days at Tech are now officially done for good. “Last year, we spent Christmas in Shreveport.”
As a reminder, the Jackets this time a year ago were about to settle into a Louisiana town to ready themselves for the Independence Bowl. Peters is going back to Louisiana, but this time he’ll be at home in Baton Rouge.
That’s a good thing. It stinks being away home for the holidays, and Tech eventually played that game as if, uh, less than thrilled.
There is always an oblong shroud, an odd vibe, around bowl games and their lead-up as all the structures that players have worked within for months are gone even though there is yet another game to be played.
For many, Christmas is quite a structure to tinker with and having it back to “normal” this go-round cannot hurt.
Lest one think that state of mind doesn’t matter, quarterback Tevin Washington summarized quite nicely after Monday’s practice without even being asked. The question was about whether Utah, Tech’s Sun Bowl opponent, is so good at slowing the run more because of the Utes’ personnel or their plan.
His answer said plenty.
“You can draw up any scheme in the world, but it’s all about the players,” he said. “If they don’t come out and play hard…”
The sentence went unfinished, but the thought was clear enough.
One’s state of mind matters. The Jackets will return to Atlanta Monday, and depart then for Texas where their minds are likely to be in better shape than they were going into the Independence Bowl although the reasons would seem to go beyond where they spend or spent their holiday.
The Sun Bowl, Washington said, “is a big deal. It’s another opportunity. We want to send the seniors out on a good note.”
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