Football Opens Spring Practices
Drake University football began its on-field preparation for the 2014 season on Wednesday afternoon with the official start of spring practices.
“The first day of practice is always exciting,” said first-year Drake head coach Rick Fox. “We’re here because we love this game so when you can get back on the field with you buddies – there’s nothing better than that. Especially after our long winter, it’s great to be outside and running around and playing football.”
The Bulldogs practiced for two hours on the Drake Stadium turf and will have 12 more spring practices leading up to the annual Spring Game on April 19.
Despite the change in head coaches, the culture and tenor of practices remains the same with Fox at the helm following six seasons as an assistant at Drake.
“The guys know me very well, so there’s no surprise,” Fox said. “I may not be as vocal as Coach Creighton was, but the intensity is the same. The guys may notice a difference in personality, but there’s no difference in intensity in Drake football.”
One area of transition will be on defense as new defensive coordinator Todd Stepsis brings his defense to the Bulldogs. How quickly the defense attacks that natural learning curve will prove critical to the team’s success in the fall. Four other new assistant coaches have also joined the program to make the spring sessions even more important as student-athletes and coaches acclimate to one another.
“For me, the biggest priority for the spring is this is when you come together as a team,” Fox said. “This our first time with this team and this group of guys playing on the field. So you develop that leadership in the spring.”
While veteran leaders emerge and are forged over the coming weeks, spring provides many of the team’s younger players with their first opportunity to shine. The bulk of last year’s freshmen class redshirted and spent 2013 serving on various scout teams to prepare their teammates for each week’s opponent.
“This is their chance to really show themselves,” Fox said of the team’s sophomores. “When you come out of the spring as a coaching staff, we’re asking what personnel we want to emphasize and which guys have stepped up.”
The Bulldogs return to the field on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday morning to complete their first week of spring practices.