WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth University began spring football practice on Tuesday, March 26, GoMUHawks.com sat down with coach Callahan to talk about the start of the spring session.
MU: The majority of practices are at 7:15 am, a bit of a switch from recent years of going in the afternoon. What are the advantages to going in the morning?
Kevin Callahan: Well we have practiced at 7 in the morning in the other years and we did some last year as well. It is just the best time that we have the field to ourselves out there and it’s just a block of time that we can get ourselves out there and you know just kind of be alone. With so many teams using this field and the track right now the afternoons get very hectic. I have found that the guys are a lot fresher in the morning, they don’t have the day’s class schedule behind them and they come in at the end of the day and at 3 o’clock they have other things on their mind. This way they come in first thing in the morning and they are fresh, football is the only thing they are thinking about, and I think we will be a lot more productive because of it.
MU: As a coaching staff, what are some of the things you are looking to accomplish in these 15 practices?
KC: We look at spring practices as an opportunity to develop all the players on our squad. We have got a lot of young guys who spent the fall on scout teams who are not necessarily getting game reps and it is important that we get all those guys up to speed. I think our younger classes are very talented and it is important that we put those players into positions that they can show what they can do on the field and utilize the talents and the skill sets that we think they have. That all starts with fundamentals, getting them into the right places, making them comfortable with what they are doing so that when they get into a competitive situation they can perform to the best of their abilities.
Spring is also a time for developing that competitiveness in all of the players and we frequently use the spring to create a number of different competitive situations you know one on one, two on twos, offense on defense, so that there is a competition in everything that we do and there is always going to be a winner and a loser in everything that we do. We want our kids to develop that mental toughness and that competitive edge so that when they get into a game situation that is their mindset and that is the way that they play.
MU: What was your impression of the first two early practices?
KC: I was very happy with it, when you make that switch and you go earlier in the morning you know there is a little bit of uncertainty about how the team is going to react and how prepared they’ll be mentally when they come to the field but we have just come out of our winter program in which we were going early in the mornings almost on a daily basis and I think that practicing in the Spring at that same time is an automatic carry over. I was very pleased with the mindset, the focus that our players came to the field with today. It is up to us as a coaching staff to make sure that we continue that as we go through the remainder of our spring practices. All in all I was happy with our first day in the morning, and look forward to getting more of them in so that I get a better sense of how we are going to react to it.
MU: There are a lot of open positions to fill, but everyone will be asking about the starting quarterback position that has been vacated since Kyle Frazier has graduated.
KC: Well you know it is the first time in a couple of years that we don’t have a returning starter at the quarterback position and so it will be very interesting to see how the four guys that are battling for that spot respond. I think they all have excellent skill sets, they all are talented players. We are very excited to see these players in a competitive situation so that we can gauge how they are going to respond and how they are going to perform. I like all of them. None of them have any game experience so that is a little bit of an uncertainty there, but our job this spring is to put them into competitive situations so we can evaluate how they respond.
MU: You open up against Montana State in one of the toughest stadiums to play in all of FCS, how can you prepare the eventual starter for playing their first game in that atmosphere?
KC: I don’t know if we can create that same environment here during a spring practice, but we just got to get them comfortable being the leader of our offense on the field. I think we need to create enough competitive situations during the spring so that they all have opportunities to do that.
Check back to GoMUHawks.com for more information on the position battles of the spring and interviews with key players and coaches.
Monmouth will play a 12 game independent schedule this season before joining the Big South Conference in 2014.
For a full list of spring football practices, visit here: http://www.gomuhawks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=67823&SPID=7664&DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=206823560&DB_OEM_ID=14300
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