ALBANY – The Albany football team got a little bit of a break with Friday’s practice, but that doesn’t mean the Hornets didn’t get some work in.
Albany coach Mike Janis and his staff used the first half of practice to time players in the 40-yard dash and shuttle runs.
“It’s something we do, and we actually do more at the end of every summer,” Janis said. “We test them on their maxes in the weight room and their speed and agility out here on the field. Just because of the circumstances, it’s something we didn’t get to do. Because of how we lifted this year, we kind of felt uncomfortable maxing them out with a one-rep max in the weight room. So we get them out here and get them running and just have fun on a Friday. I think the kids have earned it. They’ve done an excellent job this week in everything they’ve done and everything we’ve asked them to do. I think they enjoyed today.”
“Our kids have been working hard,” Janis continued. “It’s not something we’ll continue to do. As we go through the rest of the month, we’ll be taking Fridays off, but we had this scheduled and planned, and (we’re) glad that our kids responded and showed up and got it done.”
The Hornets also got some 7-on-7 work with skill players while linemen did individual work.
“It’s something we missed out on all summer just like everybody else did, so this month, 7-on-7 is going to be a big part of what we do as we try to develop that passing game and that secondary,” Janis said. “We’ll probably continue to do that everyday for the rest of the month of August.”
The 7-on-7 portion of practice also gave Janis and his staff to get a look at some younger players.
“It’s good to see the twos kind of get some work against the ones and those young guys that we’ve been trying to get some reps and see how they respond without somebody holding their hand and teaching them,” Janis said.
Janis said getting the younger players to come along will play a big part in how the team’s practices take shape in regard to social distancing and static group protocols as the season progresses.
“We’re able throughout a normal practice to split them up, and we spend a lot of time and we spend a lot of time doing specific position drills or individual groups, and we’re able to separate them into about five groups, and then once we come together for a full team, we’re able to separate them into about four different groups,” Janis said. “As we go forward and those younger guys learn more, we’ll be even more distant in our separation. We’ve got several coaches out here. We’ve got more coaches than we did last year, and our coaches are doing an outstanding job. It’s not easy responding to these circumstances and figuring out how you’re going to run all this stuff, and we haven’t missed a beat with those guys. We’ve got some great coaches.”
Janis also weighed in on the Louisiana High School Athletic Association putting an Oct. 8 start to the season because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I still don’t know exactly who we’ll be playing that day,” Janis said. “There was talk of jamborees, and I’ve had coaches calling me about jamborees, and the (LHSAA’s fall sports) memo posted (Friday) says no jamborees. I’m curious as to what week we’ll be starting with. I know they’re talking about a 16-team playoff and bowl games and then a 32-team playoff. It’s just good to know what day we’ll play, so the rest will fall into place. We’ve got two months to figure that out. It definitely a relief to find out that we’re going to play football if everything goes according to plan. That was nice.”
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said earlier this week the opening week of the season would have teams facing Week 3 opponents and the playoff field will be smaller with the later start to the season.
Janis said Friday’s practice was a great way to wrap up the week.
“I was really surprised with how well we did, and I think that’s a testament to the coaches that we have out here,” Janis said. “It’s also to many younger kids we played last year. We’ve got a lot of kids with a lot of playing experience back on the team. We played a ton of sophomores last year, and those guys haven’t missed a beat. Over the summer, we talked about things, but we didn’t get a lot of time to run offense. We didn’t get a lot of time to run defense, and the way those guys are picking it up right now, I’m surprised at how fast they’re learning it. We maybe didn’t throw enough at them like we could have. We’ve been kind of taking it slow, and they’re really picking it up well. That’s why I said it was a good week. We’ve got a lot of kids out here that are moving around, and I don’t see any sad faces. I see people having fun playing football and people learning, and it’s been a really good week.”