Schedule tweaks make for unique spring

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As we look for subplots to cover with practice now on a two-week hiatus, the schedule of this “spring’s” 15 sessions is definitely worth discussing. It’s no secret that football coaches are creatures of habit. So it’s likely that a ton of thought went into determining the unorthodox set-up for the Irish’s 15 critical workouts. 

Planning for a football season is more than getting ready for 12 Saturdays in autumn. As program’s chart out the calendar year, every week serves a purpose and follows a plan.  Kelly gave a small window into his thought process for pushing two workouts before spring break, and the 13 others finished before Easter.

“It’s spread out a little bit better than trying to get all 15 in after spring break with obviously trying to finish up before Easter,” Kelly said. “That’s the reason why we try to stretch out spring ball a little bit longer because of the way the schedule fits this year.

“Consequently, it’s changed a little bit the way we went to work in the weight room, in our conditioning elements. We were on a more accelerated pace to get our guys ready for practice.”

The biggest tweaks likely came in the strength and conditioning schedule. With the schedule pushed up, Irish players had just two months to go from the 2013 season to spring football. That played a role in dealing with injuries and surgeries as well as the conditioning and fitness approach to get prepared for competition.

While traditionally spring practice usually marks the first time coaches get the opportunity to work with their players, NCAA rules allow the coaching staff to be present for a portion of conditioning workouts (as you saw in the winter workout teaser video).

That’s likely heightened the intensity of the sessions. And also kickstarted the identity building of a 2014 team that could be a lot of fun to watch.

With Everett Golson’s return, a depth chart that gives a ton of young players a chance to compete for playing time and fresh blood on the coaching staff, things certainly look different. And if there’s another bonus, pushing the start of practice forward likely also removes the relatively sour taste from the program’s collective mouth after a disappointing 9-4 season.

So while we wait two weeks for any true news to come out of spring practice, the scheduling tweaks have already added a unique element to a relatively ho-hum time of year. 

“Frankly, it’s different than any one I have experienced in my 25 years as a head coach,” Kelly said. “So it’s exciting in that sense because there’s a new twist to it for everybody.”