Football takes the field for spring practice

by Marjorie Chelius | 4/3/11 10:00pm

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While training for the fall season is a major concern of all players, the team is also preparing for its big inter-squad scrimmage, the Green and White Game, at Memorial Field on April 30. Players said the game is a great way to show the campus what the team has been working towards and to show improvement. The teams for the game are determined by a mock draft.

Players said they encourage as many students as possible to come out and show their support for the team. The Green and White Game which usually has food and a DJ is "a party on the field," offensive lineman Austen Fletcher '12 said.

Spring practice began as soon as the team returned to campus for the term, entailing lifting and conditioning three days a week, full team practices three days a week and offensive and defensive meetings before practice, during which the team meets and watches film.

The time commitment during spring is one of the most challenging aspects of practice, according to running back Nick Schwieger '12. Fletcher agreed, noting that balancing academics and football during the term can be difficult.

"Going out and having high energy every time you practice during the spring is difficult," Fletcher said. "The spring is more mentally taxing we really harp on the individual plays."

Fletcher also said one important difference between practices in the fall and spring is that the team has games every weekend in the fall, so the intensity of practice tapers off because the players are getting ready for Saturday and need to save energy. In the spring, however, practices are physically rigorous.

Several players interviewed by The Dartmouth said that having no games makes it especially difficult for players to stay healthy. Defensive back Joey Casey '12 said the coaches don't mind "grinding and grinding" until a play is correct.

"[The spring] is a lot of straining activity, more so than the fall, because we have a full lift and practice schedule two-a-days sometimes," Casey said. "With school in between, it can be a little bit taxing."

Schwieger said having no games in the spring makes for a different team atmosphere.

"There's less pressure in the spring," he said. "We're obviously still working, but there's no game pressure."

Players on the team also pointed out that the spring is crucial for younger players on the team, as they usually get additional chances to prove themselves on the practice field.

"It's a nice time for the '12s to assume the leadership role and become seniors on the team," Schwieger said. "During the spring at this time, if you're a freshman you can really start to improve yourself and connect with some of the upperclassmen."

Schwieger, who won his starting spot as running back during his freshman spring, said he earned the chance to prove himself to players and coaches during one memorable inter-squad scrimmage in the spring in which he made an outstanding play by running over a rising senior on the team and scoring a touchdown. He has been starting ever since.

The team also uses the spring as a time to work on the mental side of the game.

"We focus a lot on being as efficient as possible, making less mental mistakes, really focusing on the learning part of it, so in the fall we can focus on the physical part," Fletcher said.

Casey said the defensive players break down their plays and slowly build them up again from scratch, which he said "really lets the players understand why we do what we do."

On the first day of spring practice the team installs one defensive strategy, then keeps building on each technique and play throughout the term, according to Casey.

"[The coaches] install a specific set of plays and we go out and practice just those, and keep building on to that throughout spring ball so that by the end, everything's there."

Schwieger said this season, the offense wants to tighten up its running game, improve the intermediate passing game and have a higher percentage of short, efficient passes.

Players said they are generally excited to be back on the field.

"I just love the practice during the spring, usually the weather is really nice," Schwieger said. "It's a good little release after a long day of class, to play the game I love to play."

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