In preparation for playing in the early September heat of Alabama, the Washington State football team is taking every possible precaution to ready its players for what could lie ahead.
That means a gallon of water a day for players -- and even a lecture from the training staff encouraging the Cougars to put a little extra salt on their meals during the week.
"With our guys, we look at it as the same if we're going down to play Arizona," defensive coordinator Robb Akey said. "I don't think you can have your mind on it."
Odds are, it won't be any hotter at Auburn on Saturday night than it has been in Pullman in recent days. But it's sure to be humid, and that's something WSU hasn't had to deal with in August, at least not on par with what the South experiences on a routine basis.
Over the summer, WSU players made a habit of doing outdoor conditioning during the hottest parts of the day, with the idea of being as accustomed to the weather as possible. That's especially important for defensive players, who more typically succumb to fatigue late in games because of the nature of their positions.
"I wanted to stop so bad because it's hot," defensive tackle Fevaea'i Ahmu said of a recent practice in the sun. "But I was like: 'Man, it's going to be hot in Auburn. C'mon. We've got to push through it.' "
Southern teams generally avoid holding practice during the hottest part of the day (which, thanks to the humidity are probably a lot hotter in real terms than the same days in Washington state). It'll be interesting to see how much the heat and humidity actually affects Wazoo this weekend. My guess after seeing how well Southern Cal managed in 2003 is: not much.
Ted Miller, who was the Auburn beat writer at the Mobile Press-Register for a while (Miller's competence didn't fit in at the Register sports department, so he quickly moved on to a real paper) is currently a sports columnist for the Seattle P-I. He normally covers University of Washington football, but I hope he'll make the trip back South for Saturday's game. I'd love to read his take on the 2006 Tigers.