Bulls tackling tough task of creating team chemistry with COVID restrictions

Sports

OXFORD, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 28: The Buffalo Bulls huddle up during a timeout in the game against Miami of Ohio RedHawks at Yager Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Oxford, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In the most unprecedented college football season to date, almost nothing is typical or normal about the way teams go about their everyday preparation.

UB Football knows that all too well. After an COVID-19 outbreak hit 25 student-athletes in the athletics program, the team had to postpone practice for a few days before being able to start fall practice. Now, with almost two full weeks of practice under their belts, the Bulls are rolling with the punches of this abnormal season already.

“Right now, we’ve had our fair share of things that have happened here, and our players have done a great job. When you look at some of the things that have transpired nationally with higher profile programs and players and coaches, it’s possible. That’s the reality that you have to deal with,” UB Football Head Coach Lance Leipold said. “I think you just have to be honest with yourself and do the best you can to find a way to get these guys to play football, but you’ve got to be ready.

“There’s a lot of erasing or deleting of plans or you better have multiple plans ready to go to try and find a way to make it happen. I think from the early things is that our conference is on a good path to get this thing kicked off.”

With daily COVID testing and working on opposite sides of the field throughout practice, head coach Lance Leipold says so far, the toughest obstacle the Bulls have had to face is a lack of team chemistry.

“Right now the only time we’re able to have position meetings within our field house is on our non-testing days. Our schedule is between people coming into be tested and going through results and all those things, it’s been difficult,” Leipold said.

“Our coaches use things like Zoom to record notes and send it, and it’s all virtual. But when you do things virtually or sending information out, it’s harder to know if it’s being absorbed, if it’s being read, all of those things.

“You have to have blind trust that our young men are doing everything, but we’re also trying to be as thorough as we can. We’re working through it pretty well, our seniors have been outstanding,” Leipold said. “The routine is getting better for us to understand.”

Knowing that this could be an issue, Leipold and the other Bulls coaches tried to integrate the entire team during Zoom meetings all the way back at the beginning of quarantine to try and get a head start on team cohesion for the 2020 season.

“We do some things differently to try to break us out of just our position group, but you’re looking at different boxes and you’re able to interact differently, and we hope that has helped some,” Leipold said. “We’ve tried to do some things differently, even in the locker room how we’ve organized the locker room to try to get players to interact more with other players in other positions. We’re hoping we’re taking that. We’re all playing with the same rules that started when we got going, you don’t want a bunch of excuses or reasons why things didn’t go right, and I don’t want team cohesion to be one of those. We’ll be sure we’re where we wanted to be when we head to DeKalb, Illinois.”

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