June 16, 2001
Well into the first session of summer school, FAU's inaugural football team has taken leave for a short stay with parents and loved ones. This six-week period is prescribed as perhaps the year's only respite to energize and fortify players for rigors that lie ahead. Shortly after Independence Day, our team will reassemble at 777 Glades Road for an extra session of schooling that offers additional preparation for the September 1 kickoff.
Coaches, too, are recharging their batteries for the grueling schedule ahead. Knowing full well that, much like sailors going to sea, they will kiss their wives and children goodbye on July 5 because they'll be on a football voyage lasting through New Year's Day.
During the six-week period of preparation that runs until August 6 (when the Owls' official training camp opens), players will take up to six hours of class work and spend a great deal of time in intensive weight training and conditioning, as well as ample time in individual work on particular positions. Quarterbacks, tight ends, and receivers will work individually and in groups to perfect the nuances of their positions, such as timing out patterns, pattern adjustments and the like.
Defensive backs, just as all best competitive athletes, will seize opportunities to improve their skills. Backs may well decide to jump out and cover receivers running their routes. Offensive and defensive linemen will work separately and together perfecting techniques, particularly in the pass protection and pass rush areas.
Without the scrutiny of coaches, each player is able to move at his own pace and experiment personal strengths and weakness. The team knows there will be plenty of time ahead to work within the structure of the coaches' planned drills. Every football program across the land that is preparing to be the best will be using this preparation period in much the same way.
The NCAA allows only 29 official practices prior to the first game, giving the Owls way too little time to catch up to Slippery Rock University's experience. The Pride has been playing football for 70 years. It's a powerful and mature team comprised of senior starters 22-23 years of age and reserves of juniors and sophomores 20-22 years of age who, on average, will have starts in more than 13 games. The entire time these players have been in school, they've been running the same offense and defense. They only need to refresh their memories as to offensive plays and defensive schemes.
With 76 days left until September 1, every moment of every minute of every hour must have meaning. That moment must be used to close the gap on The Pride. So far, so good. To have winning results on September 1, 2001 will be determined by the intelligence quotient and work ethic of our squad.