This week’s Update comes straight from Head Coach Pete Mangurian.  Here are his thoughts coming out of Spring Practice 2014, an update on our off-season conditioning and information about the social media Q&A.

On Saturday March 15 we concluded spring practice 2014. We altered the schedule from last year, not only starting sooner, but also practicing four times a week for three weeks instead of three times a week over a four-week span. Practices were on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Mornings from 8:00 am to 10:00am.

With our recruiting class for the most part completed when the players returned from Christmas break, we immediately started a four-week conditioning cycle to prepare for spring practice. Now that spring practice is completed, we will return to our four day-a-week lifting and running sessions. We should get six solid weeks of lifting and running in preparation for our summer workout program, which will include our incoming freshmen during the month of July. This schedule will also allow our players to concentrate on their classes at the end of the semester.

Over the course of twelve practices we put between 150 and 200 live plays on tape. This should be sufficient for thorough evaluation of our personnel as well as current teaching and installation tapes of any new schemes for the incoming freshmen.

We entered spring practice with a roster of 64, four of which were post-op from the season and still in rehab. We had three players miss significant practice time due to injury, but expect all of them to be ready for training camp. We basically went through spring with a travel squad; the good news is everyone got plenty of work. Our roster is developing on schedule, next spring we will practice with 79 players. Our roster for training camp should be at 98 players. This was an exceptionally large recruiting class, and we don’t anticipate having to recruit any more classes this size.

We did install some new schemes and packages on both sides of the ball. That being said, our goals for spring were very simple and fundamental. Defensively we concentrated on tackling, getting off blocks, improving some specific coverage techniques and overall better communications, both verbal and visual. Offensively, we concentrated on our precision in the passing game and the fundamental development of our younger players up front, including the tight ends. All four of our quarterbacks were healthy and available for the spring. We also developed the ability to speed up our offense overall. We feel good about where we are right now, and I would have to say we improved in all the areas we targeted. There is still plenty of work to be done. 

The search for a new strength and conditioning coach continues. This is a critically important position for our program. We have a system and a philosophy that our players believe in, so it is important to find the right person with a similar philosophy as the one we have established over the last two years. We continue to work with our nutritionist and monitor body composition as we have over the last two seasons. On a new front, we have begun working with a sleep specialist in an effort to address every issue that effects performance both on and off the field.

We look forward to announcing the new recruiting class. We will not make an announcement until all thirty-four have made their deposits with the University. At that point we will announce the entire class.  As we said last week, we are going to do it a little differently this time.  We are going to release the class and also my brief commentary on the incoming recruits.  You will also have an opportunity to ask questions via social media. 

On another note, I was originally scheduled to do a live question and answer session via social media last week.  I moved that date because it was on the same day and almost the same time as our men’s basketball postseason game at Valparaiso in the CIT.  Since then, we’ve beaten Valpo and Eastern Michigan.  Kyle and his team have amassed 21 wins.  We play Yale tomorrow in the quarterfinals of the CIT.  It is a special time on campus, and I know tomorrow Levien Gymnasium will be loud, excited and ready.   Since it worked so well last time, I am postponing the social media Q&A until the first Tuesday after the basketball season.  It’s basketball’s time now.