As head coach Tommy Spangler waits to begin his 10th season at the helm for the Presbyterian College football program, the athletics communication staff caught up with Spangler to discuss how the 2020 football team and staff have adapted to the new normal and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOW HAS FALL PROGRESSED
It's a different kind of different so far for us this fall, but changes, adjustments, and fixing issues are what we're used to handling. Having to deal with all the protocols and issues that come with COVID-19 will make us better in the long run. It's a more challenging process because of how we have to practice, go through the locker room and the weight room, and keep social distancing and always wearing our masks all the time we are doing any of those things.
I think our kids have done a tremendous job with their attitudes number one because we are not only trying to battle and improve and get better on the field we are also trying to battle COVID-19, and it has made it a challenge on everyone throughout the program. I'm pleased with the progress that we have been able to make, especially considering the limitations we currently have to handle. I hope things improve, and the NCAA changes what we are allowed to do, which hopefully includes putting the pads on.
I have to put myself in their shoes when it comes to jockeying class, which is different this fall and coming down to get scanned in daily and making sure we're masked up, sending so many guys in the locker room at a time and the practice field at a certain time. A lot of athletes are competitors, and a lot of them are at their best when the challenges are the toughest and right now were battling a lot of challenges and making the best of it.
STUDENTS RESPONSE TO THE NEW NORMAL
Well, what we would typically do is have a sizable group here in July working out and preparing for the season and be able to get through a lot of the first issues when a team reports but we didn't have that this year. We reported on August 9, and we brought in over 115 guys. I'm encouraged by how the kids have responded to the guidelines, protocols, and how we go about it.
Still, the key is you can have all these protocols and guidelines, but unless you are truly executing them day in and day out and doing what you are truly supposed to do every day, it's a challenge for everything to be successful. Our staff has done a great job helping our guys do what they are supposed to be doing day in and day out.
We have to remember that they are young kids, and some may not want to take it as seriously as others do. Still, I think they have done a good job adjusting and taking it seriously, and we have to remember that we have to continue to get better as a football team. Based on what we have been able to do so far this fall in the 2-3 weeks since we have come back to campus, I am extremely encouraged by what we have accomplished on the field. If we had to play a game next week, I would be concerned, but we don't have too.
THINGS YOU LIKE AND THINGS YOU WANT TO IMPROVE ON IN COMING WEEKS
From the standpoint of the players improving on the things we're asking of them, such as individual fundamentals, overall conditioning, and things they are doing in the weight room, I see a lot of strides. Let's face it football is a very competitive sport; it's a great team sport, but there's still are a lot of one-on-one battles, and at this point, we are not getting some of that due to our current restrictions. We can judge how competitive it is based on what we're allowed to do but not having those one-on-one battles. Seeing how a kid responds to getting beat or responding to having success is something we haven't been able to judge, however, due to our practice limits thus far.
Hopefully, we can get back to a point soon where we can practice with larger groups and pads from time to time and play the game the way it's meant to be played. I am not saying what we're doing now isn't beneficial because it is. We are trying to develop a lot of fundamentals and conditioning and mental/cerebral schematic issues that we are trying to get better at. I am encouraged by where we are, but it is truly one day at a time.