Saturday, November 18, 2006

The beauty of indoor football and pregame roster moves

I'm making my first visit here at the Dome and I must say, the view from the press box is by far the best of any stadium I've been to in eight years of covering college football. There are only about 20 rows of bleachers from field level in front of us, and since we're inside and don't need to worry about weather, there are no windows. It's all open. The players are running through their pregame warmups, and we can hear everthing they say. Of course, the doors haven't opened to the public yet so I imagine it will get a little louder once this place has 40,000 people in it. But typically, being in the press box at most places, including the Runway, feels like you're watching the game from a blimp hovering over the stadium. They are usually set behind all the bleachers and are so high the players look like ants.

I've only seen one other indoor football game. Three years ago I was in Grand Forks, North Dakota to cover a two-game hockey series between Yale and North Dakota. To pass time before Saturday night's game, I headed over to the Alerus Center to see the Fighting Sioux football team play Nebraska-Omaha. The weather, as you might expect, is harsh in North Dakota. We were there on Oct. 31, but it was snowing pretty hard in Grand Forks that morning. Guess that's why the team plays indoors. It's a completely different feel watching the game indoors. You see things develop clearer and pick up little nuances of the game that are harder to see outdoors. You also hear everything -- at least I did at the Alerus Center, which has only about a quarter of the capacity of the Carrier Dome. I remember hearing every word clear as day when one of the Nebraska-Omaha coaches reamed out a player in an expletive-filled tirade that would have made a drill sergent blush. I looked to my left and right and saw a handful of elderly couples watching in horror.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I can't wait til kickoff, which is about 90 minutes away.

A few pre-game notes.

Darius Butler (hamstring) did not make the trip. Ernest Cole will start at cornerback. Also, the offensive line was shuffled a tad. Immanuel Hutcherson starts at right guard, Brian Kersmanc will start at left guard, Matt Applebaum will shift to right tackle and Andrew Presnell will serve as the backup at both tackle slots.

Larry Taylor is playing, but will not return kicks. Robert McClain and Andre Sixon will be the main return men.


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