By Les East
September 03, 2012
The impending threat from Tropical Storm Isaac forced the cancellation of classes at LSU on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the Tigers football team is trying to go about its business as usual.
LSU’s season opener against North Texas is still scheduled to be played at 6 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium, and the Tigers plan to practice Tuesday afternoon and maintain as normal a game week as they can thereafter.
“When the players arrive (Tuesday) at the building, we will have very specific orders and suggestions, but it’s pretty simple,” coach Les Miles said Monday. “We’ll give them some choices of where they might stay and hunker down and see what happens after. I don’t think anybody can predict. The only thing we can predict is we can make an adjustment that will work, because we’ve done it in the past.”
Having to reason with hurricane season is nothing new for Miles, whose debut as Tigers head coach — ironically scheduled against North Texas — was postponed until October because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The game against Arizona State the next week was moved from Tiger Stadium to Tempe, Ariz., and the next game — against Tennessee — was moved from Saturday to Monday because of Hurricane Rita.
The 2008 opener against Appalachian State was moved from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. to avoid Hurricane Gustav, which was approaching the area. The game against Troy scheduled for the following week was postponed until November.
“The good news is we’ve been through this before,” Miles said. “We know how to do this. We’ll figure it out. Certainly the administration will give us great direction, but we’ll have contingency plans. We’ll be prepared to play certainly.”
Senior guard Josh Dworaczyk, who’s from New Iberia, was one of the Tigers who experienced Gustav.
“It really starts with coach Miles and how he has always handled storms in the past, through Katrina and Gustav and including this one,” Dworaczyk said. “When there’s a looming threat, we’re always going to be updated, keeping track of what’s going on with this storm and how it’s going to affect this area.
“As a team, we also know we have a game on Saturday, and we want to play that game as badly as anybody wants to watch it. We’re going to prepare as hard as we can and take every opportunity we have to come and practice. You can’t take it lightly, because there’s a lot of danger with hurricanes. But if we heed the warnings, we can get through this, and we’ll get through it as a team. Hey, it’s football season, and it’s hurricane season.”
Hurricane veterans such as Dworaczyk and others who grew up in the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico have been reassuring to the hurricane neophytes.
“I’ve had my fair share of hurricanes, coming from Houston and being here as a student-athlete,” senior wide receiver Russell Shepard said. “There’s not too much you can do — just get ready, hold on as tight as you can, and be prepared to have food and water. That’s it.”
Said defensive end Barkevious Mingo, who’s from West Monroe: “I guess this is going to be my first time.
“Being from north Louisiana, we don’t get too much of this chaos.”
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who’s from Georgia, has been eagerly anticipating his first college start, which comes Saturday.
“I’ve never been through a hurricane; I’m not particularly excited about it,” Mettenberger said. “I know we’re going to get some rain, but hopefully we don’t have to miss practice or anything because of the storm. I wish it could have come last week just because it’s game week this week.
“Hopefully, it doesn’t stir up too much commotion and we can keep practicing and go into Saturday with a clear day.”
North Texas coach Dan McCarney said his team is sticking with its normal schedule while it monitors developments from Denton, Texas, near Dallas.
“Your hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to anybody in that area that hopefully everybody can stay safe, that there’s no issues,” McCarney said. “The safety of Americans is a lot more important right now than a football game, obviously. But we have to stay flexible and be ready in case of delays or changes, and all of us in college football have been through that for various reasons through the years.”
Tigers Athletic Director Joe Alleva issued a statement saying the university planned to hold the game as scheduled, though, “We are continuously monitoring weather conditions and considering potential impacts.”
LSU will provide information on changes affecting the football game or other athletic events through its website (LSUsports.net), its Twitter feeds and Facebook page, and through the media.
Punter Brad Wing, who’s from Australia, is still learning about South Louisiana and its customs.
“After hearing the term hurricane party,” Wing tweeted, “I’m sold that Baton Rouge will use anything as an excuse to party.”