Spring Practices Provide a Difficult Challenge for the Bengals

Spring Practices Provide a Difficult Challenge for the Bengals
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6:30 a.m. is an interesting time to start practices, but according to Head Coach Jerry Boyes, the Bengals have to practice at that time due to a lack of accessibility to Coyer Field
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Casey Kacz is going to use the spring practices to get more comfortable in the Buffalo State offense as he gets ready for his first full season as the Bengals’ starting quarterback

The Buffalo State football team kicked off their spring practices last week in preparation for next season.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until April 27, the team will practice from 6:30-8:30a.m.. There are 15 practices in all, and if a player is even a second late, they’re locked out of meetings.

“I remember the first day of spring ball and I was not used to getting up that early since I have class at nine,”freshman kicker Alex Debbins said. “So I just woke up and drove here and got here at 6:29 to slip into the meeting at the very last second. I learned my lesson right then and there because once the doors shut for the meeting, the doors shut.”

The reason behind these early practices is because Buffalo State only has one field for four sports. The lacrosse team and soccer team also use the field in spring and since lights haven’t been installed, night football practices aren’t a possibility.

According to head coach Jerry Boyes, the field next to Parking Lot G and the Clinton Center by Rockwell Road would be considered as an option, but the conditions of the grass during spring time make practicing there unrealistic.

“We do practice over there at times during the regular season,”Boyes said. “When we have our own soccer game during the course of the week, we’re over there practicing.”

“The problem with this time of the year though is the field has so many undulations and holes, it’s not the best to practice on,” Boyes continued. “It’s so muddy that we can’t get anything done over there. We really have no other option, but to practice at that time of the morning on Coyer Field.”

In their first week of spring practices, the Bengals begin their morning with a 30-minute meeting to discuss what they would do on the field and to talk about the plays the coaches want them to execute throughout practice.

Once the Bengals headed onto the field, they treated the spring practice like a normal practice. They did position warm-ups, team stretching, worked on the kicking game, individual drills and seven-on-seven drills before ending practice with some conditioning.

However, there is one major difference between spring practices and summer practices.

During spring practices, the Bengals aren’t allowed to use helmets or shoulder pads. Instead of worrying about major things like blocking and tackling, they have to focus on the little things such as fundamentals.

“It’s not like Division I and Division II where they’re allowed helmets and shoulder pads,” Boyes said. “It’s really fundamental and detail work. It’s doing things correctly, from the stance and how we come out of our stance, being at the right place and being there at the right time.”

“It’s kind of repetition going over our top offensive plays, the top defenses, coverages and the special teams things that we do, Boyes continued. “We do more things in breaking down aspects of the game.”

For players such as quarterback Casey Kacz, the spring practices allow them the ability to get more comfortable learning the plays. Kacz transferred to Buffalo State from Edinboro University last year.

“It’s a lot different running plays already because I have a lot more confidence which I think is a big thing,”Kacz said. “Last spring I was a little nervous because I didn’t know all the plays. Now I have a year under my belt and I have guys around me that believe in me. It’s a lot easier.”

Each position utilizes the spring practices in their own way to improve their game. For the wide receivers, they wanted to cut down on mental mistakes and after watching film they’ll try to correct those mistakes on the field.

“That’s what spring is all about, focusing on those mental things that we made mistakes on early in the year,” wide receivers coach Matt Hanhold said. “What we do is, during our meetings, we’ll watch some of our film from last year and we’ll see little things in alignment, a split, a wrong step, or a wrong route. There are certain things that we can correct and the guys go out on the field and make those changes to it.”

The Bengals will conclude their spring practices on April 27 and get a chance to enjoy summer break before returning for training camp sometime during August.