Special teams coordinator Ed Lamb and tight ends coach Steve Clark were mainly focused on the younger players in the program, with only six spring practices under their belt. Lamb felt like he wasn’t able to assess his newer players as much as he would have liked. His younger players were also looking for chances to show their abilities and potential.
“Normally, we try and get a good idea of who our two-deep players are,” Lamb said. “I don’t think our younger players got a good enough opportunity to show what they can do.”
In contrast, Clark had enough time to see what his players were capable of.
“We start early in March, so at least we got some practices in. Some teams didn’t get any,” Clark said. “I think the most critical thing we did at tight end and fullback was to get the younger guys in and see how they did in the competition. I think they all did very well, and we have an idea of what we have in the fall.”
Coaches and players soon found themselves figuring out how to achieve their off-season goals without the rest of spring practices. The coaches made sure to still contact their players to discuss their strengths and things they should continue to work on. Clark still conducted his “state of the union” with his players over video chat and phone calls. Coaches sent out plenty of film and other resources for the players to maintain their football IQ with their time off. They also issued workout challenges.
“We started off doing pushup challenges,” Clark said. “Everybody had to do 200 a day.”
Players have been doing their part to stay in shape and stay sharp. Junior offensive lineman James Empey has been working with the strength staff remotely.
“Our strength staff is great,” Empey said. “They have sent us a bunch of different workouts to keep us sane at this time.”
Sophomore linebacker and running back Tyler Allgeier and junior quarterback Zach Wilson have been taking advantage of their time off by working with different coaches and trainers. Allgeier has made an effort to stay connected and active.
“With all of this free time, I’m trying to get workouts in,” Allgeier said. “Also trying to get healthy and get rid of nagging injuries.”
Wilson’s main focus for the off-season is progressing in every aspect and developing more as a leader. He hopes he can become a more complete quarterback to lead his team to a better season. Quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick emphasized making good decisions on the field and recovering from bad plays. Wilson was also especially eager for this off-season for the time he would have to train.
“Last year I missed the off-season because of shoulder surgery,” Wilson said. “And now I have a healthy shoulder and hand it is just how much bigger, stronger and faster I can get.”
With all of the uncertainty surrounding the reopening of the country, there is no definite answer on whether or not there will be college football in the fall. The consequences of not having a season could be costly. The commissioners of each conference talked with Vice President Mike Pence about the circumstances where college football would be allowed. College football and other fall sports would only take place if universities hold classes on campus.
Options like playing in the winter and spring have been presented as a possibility. The coaches and players have been mindful and sensitive to the situation and continue to stay hopeful.
Lamb has remained positive throughout the whole situation.
“College athletes and coaches see everything through a lens of competition,” Lamb said. “And when something like this happens, it is a bit of an eye-opener that there are more important things in life. It does not mean that athletics or competitions are any less important but it’s more of a perspective.”