Monday night felt like we were in the fall preparing for a game. The cold, the focus and the intensity of our first football practice in pads got us off to a good start. With a late 5 p.m. start to practice, everybody strapped up and went at it.
When we started to see our breath, we realized it was not your ordinary spring evening. The first day in pads showed a great deal of what type of character our team has in doing everything possible to win.
Towards the end of practice, I became acquainted with the cold Philadelphia wind chill. I was asked to punt, and found out how difficult it can be against a stiff wind with frozen legs. Punting in cold wind is always a great learning experience; it prepares me for unexpected brutal weather during late-season games.
After a 20-play scrimmage at the end of practice, the coaches had us do Oklahoma drills to close out the night. These drills are highly aggressive, all-out, in-your-face routines between the offense and the defense. With a lot of shouting, bruising hits and loud cheering from both sides, our intensity during the final drill was high enough to give Mother Nature the chills.
Growing up in Utah, I have been used to snow and cold weather. But not since my two-year mission in Canada for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have I been accustomed to the cold wind.
As a junior college transfer from Dixie State Junior College in St. George, Utah (pop. 30,000) coming to Temple (enrollment 30,000) this January, has brought me new experiences.
Being in the best shape of my life, I was anxious for my first official spring practice in pads. I got in shape by putting in a lot of hard work with the team. In the previous first two months of school, the team has dedicated itself to running at 6 a.m. three days a week.
At Temple, I’ve been amazed at how organized everything is. Back home during the fall, the coach told you to go in the closet and grab whatever helmet fits and whatever pads look good on you, a process that can take a lot of time. But when I was receiving my pads here, Paul Kelley, the equipment manager, measured my head and shoulders and had perfect fitting gear in minutes.
During practice, we follow a period schedule, with each period lasting five minutes.
For the first few practices, I have punted a good amount and have thrown to the running backs.
When the 17th and 18th periods hit, I practiced my form, drops and punt to the return men. It’s been a tough adjustment. But with some extra practice I hope to reach my full potential.
After punting, I return to the quarterbacks and work on the passing game. Walter Washington and Mike McGann are terrific quarterbacks who have helped me learn the basics of the system. In the fall I plan on being a reliable backup for them. Until I learn the system, I spend time watching them call the formations, read the defense and execute the plays.
The first few practices have felt more like winter than spring, but the competitiveness of the weekend capped off a great start for Temple football.
Jake Hendy can be reached at email@example.com.