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September 1, 2007

Pre-gaming with ASU

With its 2007 college football season kicking off tonight, the ASU football team can't wait to make big plays under the lights at Sun Devil Stadium.

Considering the team has held roughly 43 percent of the practices for the year already in the month of August alone, there's no blaming the players for wanting to implement everything that new coach Dennis Erickson and his coaching staff have taught them on a big stage in front of more than 50,000 fans.

"I hate just waiting for the game, I wished we could play tonight." senior center Mike Pollak said after Thursday night's practice, the team's last before game day.

Pollak will have to wait patiently for Saturday night to come, but until then he will make the necessary precautions to make sure he is ready to play.

"We hydrate all day, and try to stay off our feet as much as possible," he said of what his teammates do prior to a game.

But for Pollak, true strength comes from the serious amounts of heavy metal music pumping out of his music player.

"Come gameday, I've got my iPod in from the moment I wake up until I put my helmet and pads on to go on the field," he said.

While Pollak prefers loud noises, other guys on the team like junior wide receiver Mike Jones, for example, enjoy a softer melody prior to the game.

"I'm a big R. Kelly fan - I'll be honest," Jones admitted. "I have almost every CD he ever made."

Although his soap opera themed music might have been an appropriate soundtrack for last years squad, Jones said listening to the controversial musician's R&B music is a must.

"I'm not really a loud guy," Jones said. "I'm not one of those guys who listens to loud music. I actually listen to slow R&B music. When I get too amped up I don't know what's going to happen."

Besides the music selection prior to games, the food the players put into their bodies is equally if not most important.

"When we eat as a team, I eat bland foods," said Pollak. "When we eat pasta, I don't like using the marinara sauce, I just try to make it as bland as possible."

Along with loading up on the carbohydrates, brushing up on the snap exchange with the quarterback is equally important to an offensive lineman before kick-off.

"I'll go out there before the team, and get a couple of snaps with Rudy [Carpenter] just to make sure we are feeling good with each other," Pollak said.

Each player has their own unique way of preparing for the game.

"Rudy Burgess will get fully dressed in almost everything except for his shoulder pads and go walk through and run his routes. Rudy Carpenter will go out and throw deep balls to get his arm loose. Some guys take showers, some guys even lift weights before the game, but for me I just try to relax," Jones said.

With the routines varying amongst the players, the locker room can always expect junior tailback Keegan Herring to help relax the guys.

"Most guys are pretty calm and quiet, but Keegan can usually have a comment that breaks a little laughter here and there," Pollak said.

Surely not every spoken word in the locker room will be met by laughter, an inspiring speech from coach Erickson should be expected, along with some words from the senior leaders of the team which include Pollak.

"Last year at the team hotel, the captains would speak before we got on the bus to come to the game, I'm not sure how we are going to do it this year, but I'll have something to say before we get out there," Pollak said.



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