BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The first practice of fall camp is always an exciting one for the UB Bulls, but Monday’s practice was a little more special as the Bulls finally kicked off the 2020 season with their first team practice since March.
“It felt great. The day before, I felt like a little kid about to play a peewee football game. It felt amazing being back out there with my teammates, seeing guys run around, running behind the offensive line, just playing football,” UB junior running back Jaret Patterson said. “I know this team was very excited for the first day, we’re just going to keep getting better each and every day and not take it for granted.”
“Ever since the announcement, the energy level you could see as we go through things, to be on the field. We stretch on different ends of the field, offense and defense, we’re trying to keep things as limited, but to see the energy of them actually getting to do what they love to do and trying to put a team back together and get ready to play football games, you could definitely feel the vibe,” UB Head Coach Lance Leipold said. “We’re waiting for those little bits of normalcy, whatever the new normals will be moving forward, but to see us run plays and do things was definitely refreshing.”
With the announcement coming out a week and a half ago that the MAC would be playing football in the fall, the overwhelming sentiment from players and coaches is that a sense of normalcy was returning. With all of the abnormalities right now, stepping back on the field really brought that normalcy back.
“Everything has been so weird and out of the ordinary when it comes to protocols and COVID-19 and stuff like that, but being out on the field, getting back to doing Indy drills, doing team sessions, helping other teammates with moves and doing one on ones, it feels like we’re back to normal,” UB senior defensive end Malcolm Koonce said.
“It felt normal for once. We’ve been through a lot of unknowns, and uncertainties, but it feels like we’re going in the right direction where we’re headed. It definitely felt like some normalcy today,” Patterson said.
With what normally would be fall camp in August is now taking place in October to gear up for a November 4th start to the six-game conference slate. The month of preparation is the same in the length, but also very different in other aspects of what a normal fall camp would consist of, so it’s a challenge on the UB coaches to figure out how to get their players prepared for the season in a safe and healthy way.
“In many ways, we have to look at it as this is August. On the flip side of that, we don’t get the length of the day that we do in August in a training camp situation,” Coach Leipold said. “The balance of what we’re installing, the balance of what we’re doing with contact wise, and the length of things is all going to have to be balanced and looked at to get them ready for kickoff in November.”