Homecoming: when old alumni and new students get together for one game to make some noise and cheer their team. But while the fans are cheering, the football team is waiting.
“It is just like in high school, it’s the one game you look forward to,” wide receiver Darius Outlaw says.
The pressure is on for Outlaw, who has played in three Homecoming games. “There is more pressure because there are so many people,” he says. “You just keep thinking, ‘Who’s going to be there?’”
However, tailback Tyrone Roberson expects his second Homecoming game to be just like any other game.
“There is no added pressure,” he says. “It is a bigger game, but it is just another game we have to win.”
And for quarterback Brad Smith, who will also be playing in his second homecoming game, it’s pretty much the same.
“We just have to go play,” he says.
The team does not prepare any differently for the Homecoming game; it treats the day like any other. Team members will watch game film and practice to the same schedule they would any other week.
But even if the week leading up seems no different for players such as Outlaw, the game just isn’t the same.
“Homecoming is a great game,” Outlaw says. “It is the feeling coming into it: Knowing the alumni and people coming from all over are here. We originated it. Besides the KU game, it’s one of the other games we look forward to.”
Even some first-time Homecoming players know expectations will be high. Outside safety Josh Hibbets says, “(We) just want to stay focused and get the job done. I want to relax, but I am sure once it comes, there will be extra feelings.”
But free safety Nino Williams, who also anticipates his first Homecoming game, treats this game like any other.
“Can’t get overwhelmed,” he says. “Just have to go out and play. It is the same game you play week in and week out.”
Even if the game remains the same, the football team realizes that this one means more to the crowd — and it wants a win.