By Allen Moff | Staff Writer
After practicing from about 10:15 until noon at the University of South Alabama's practice fields, 12 members of the team visited the University of South Alabama's Children's and Women's Hospital: Spencer Keith, Kent Cleveland, Freddy Cortez, Luke Batton, Sidney Saulter, Luke Wollet, Zach Hitchens, Anthony Meray, Chris Humphrey, Casey Pierce, Nate Vance and Anthony Melchiori. Both teams then attended a fun event featuring a hypnotist Thursday night.
The hospital visit was a touching experience for the Flashes. "It was awesome," said senior Kent Cleveland, the Flashes' starting right tackle, who also visited patients at Akron Children's Hospital a few weeks ago. "Every time you think football is hard or anything in life's hard, you think about those kids. They're so young and they're struggling. We have it so easy compared to them. Anything to help them get through what they're going through always feels good to do."
— Thursday's morning practice was once again held in cool, cloudy conditions. Temperatures were said to be in the mid-40s, but it certainly felt colder than that. The secretary at the University of South Alabama's field house tried to explain how the humidity somehow makes temperatures in the south feel colder than the same ones in the north. While I can't explain it, I agree with that assessment. The sun finally broke through in the afternoon, pushing the high temperature of the day to 48. Still not what I was hoping for, but I know -- much better than Ohio. The forecast for Sunday remains the same, cloudy and around 50 degrees at game time.
— Thursday's practice was cranked up quite a bit. Coordinators Brian Rock (offense) and Jon Heacock (defense) were obviously trying to reinforce the fact that there's a big game to be played on Sunday. Heacock was especially vocal while getting after his defenders after a second straight blown assignment.
— After practice head coach Darrell Hazell reminded his players that they have a chance to reach 12 wins. Only seven other teams will finish the season with a dozen or more victories: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Northern Illinois, Stanford, Georgia, and the winner of Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl between Kansas State and Oregon.
— Senior kicker Freddy Cortez and Hazell's 11-year-old son Kyle stole the show at Wednesday night's Team Welcome Reception. Cortez and star junior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix defeated a duo from Arkansas State in the Team Play-by-Play Contest after Cortez, while announcing the action of a televised football game in front of a huge crowd, excitedly switched languages from English to Spanish. "Of course I got a little nervous at first cause you gotta speak in front of everybody. But I like to have fun and have a good time, so I went up there just being myself," Cortez smiled. "I knew nobody was gonna understand what I was gonna say -- I could have went up there and said anything. It was definitely a great time." Meanwhile, Kyle Hazell was invited to the microphone by the host of the event, a local disc jockey, who pounded him with obscure sports questions. Kyle answered each one correctly, without hesitation. That comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Kyle, who has impressed us with his sports knowledge throughout the year. He even predicted Texas A&M's upset of Alabama earlier this season.
Kent State will practice this morning at about 9:45 a.m., then a Mayor's Luncheon featuring comedian Larry the Cable Guy is slated for noon. Saturday features a luncheon on board the famous World War II battleship the USS Alabama, a Mardi Gras parade with Grand Marshal Danica Patrick, and a Pep Rally at 8 p.m., followed by a Street Party.
Countdown To Kickoff: 2 days.