It’s the toughest decision every head football coach will make during the spring, trying to schedule 15 practices around spring break.
In this state, spring break falls in late March, which makes it almost impossible to avoid. If you try to squeeze 15 practices before spring break, you’re either practicing every day in the first three weeks of March or you’re backing up into February, which can be brutal on those early helmets-and-shorts practices. If you wait until after spring break, you’re extending football practice into May.
Otherwise, you will hold several practices, take a 10-day break that interrupts everything, then waste a practice or two trying to get back into the flow of football practice after spring break.
“It’s so not fair, so not fair to a coach,” ASU coach Reggie Barlow said, “but I will respect the state laws and let them go for spring break. Just knowing how I was when I was in college, I didn’t have any money to go anywhere so I spent my time there at Ridgecrest. It’s something you hate to do, but that’s a part of it. Hopefully they’ll come back (in good shape) and we’ll be able to finish up strong.”
The Hornets finished their ninth practice on Thursday afternoon before turning loose the players for an 11-day break. They’ll return on April Fool’s Day (insert anecdote here) for two more practices, a scrimmage on April 5, two more practices and the annual Black and Gold Game on April 12 at ASU Stadium.
Barlow said his focus on April 1 is “making sure everyone gets back healthy. We talked about being safe. We encourage them to enjoy themselves but be smart. To really just come back and start up where we left from. We’ve installed a good bit, offensively, defensively, and it’ll go back to that retention, what they have retained from the eight days (off) or so. It’ll be interesting to see how they react and respond to that.”
Linebacker Deontrelle Silmon said it was important that “guys do what they’re supposed to do, like Coach said to, work out over the break, do as much as they can.
“I’m going to Panama next weekend but I’m going to work out until then.”
Barlow said he has been happy with spring practice, which has an unusual format this spring. The school doesn’t schedule classes between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Barlow is using that window to practice the players for approximately 90 minutes in 10 of the 15 sessions. With two scrimmages and a Black and Gold Game, that leaves just two days for a standard afternoon practice session.
“We’ve been able to see a lot of guys get some work,” Barlow said. “There’s been some guys that we didn’t expect anything out of, walk-on kids (such as) defensive end Robert Brown, that is doing some good things. Our D-line is still playing the way we’d like them to play. Offensively, we’ve struggled a bit over the last couple of days but, all in all, there has been some decent play out of some of the guys.”