Lance Leipold says they have to be smart with practice
When fall camp arrives every player is going to get a clean slate to impress a new coaching staff. The five, new on-field coaches were all at Buffalo last spring and arrived in May.
The coaches are allowed to go through basic summer walk-through that are limited, but they cannot have a football and no pads are allowed. The first time they will see them is in fall camp and that means everyone starts with no built-in advantage.
“Pure abilities are going to show once the pads come on,” said head coach Lance Leipold. “It's almost like having a class of freshmen. Everybody finally gets a chance to show up. We can spend a lot of time and a lot of energy worried about what we don't get to do or what we don't have and honestly, that's wasted energy. We have to look at the positives.”
A player might have been in line to start under the previous staff or had a starting job locked up. Now, they have to prove themselves all over again.
“What we get with this is a fresh opportunity for a lot of young men to show what they can do and a chance for competition to really be a positive for us in the daily ways of progressing through camp,” Leipold said. “What I mean by that is somebody that's maybe felt comfortable in their position now has to make sure they go out and prove themselves to this new coaching staff and show themselves.”
Leipold pointed out there are situations where a player might have been “in a rut” with the past staff or buried on the depth chart.
“He could of been labeled maybe or sometimes that happens or a guy's kind of in a rut,” he said. “That person gets a chance to shake that. We're going to find ways for that to be the positive for us.”
When it comes to practice, it might look like cramming for a final exam. The NCAA in recent years has tightened the practice time for college football. This year there will be no Oklahoma drill, which was used by the previous staff. Another rule is limiting scrimmages, where only two will be allowed in fall camp.
“I think that's the biggest thing is trying to get everything accomplished in the unknown of knowing that you didn't get spring practice and the things that you bank on, knowing that you accomplished in the spring that carry over into fall,” Leipold said. “For most of us, that that spring ball was somewhere else. So, trying to get that done we've got to be real smart.
He continued: “I have to do a good job as the head coach to balance out fall camp and how we go about practicing, teaching, repping, and making sure we can stay healthy through that, but yet get everything accomplished.”
The coaches have not been able to be around the players much, but strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Gildersleeve has. Leipold relies on him for progress reports and how the players are doing in the summer.
Gildersleeve spends more time in the summer with players than any full-time coach.
“Gildersleeve has done a great job over the summer, not just in the weight room and on the field conditioning, but with our culture,” Leipold said. “He'll be giving me the feedback of where we're at as far as not just conditioning, but wear and tear, so on the body, that we have to maximize when we're going hard. When we need to be teaching and walking through and doing different things from classroom to whatever to maximize, especially those first couple of weeks of training camp.”