Nothing looked that different.
Maroon and white jerseys sprinkled with a few green and red tops. Mid-afternoon position drills. Videographers high above Murphy Field on a near perfect spring day.
Prospective recruits on the sideline nearest Bahoshy Field. A small scoreboard, indicating period number and time remaining. Early Friday evening stretching. And a discussion led by the man in charge of the program.
It was a normal Fordham football practice, the 11th of 15 spring sessions culminating with this weekend’s annual spring game.
First year head coach Andrew Breiner, who was promoted in December after Joe Moorhead became Penn State’s offensive coordinator, explained the spring in light of this year’s program acronym.
“The goal number one was to develop team SPEED — Superior Preparation, Effort and Execution will result in Domination,” Breiner said. “The execution part [is] what I really wanted to see this spring, which is knowledge of assignment and then improved technique and fundamentals. That has been the focus of the spring.”
In light of the program’s goal, the former offensive coordinator was positive when assessing the near dozen practices to this point.
“We ask them [the players] to bring three things every day,” Breiner said. “We ask them to bring energy, bring a competitive spirit and to finish. I’m pleased that we’re trending in the right direction in all those areas.”
While tangible results cannot necessarily be seen in game results during this time of year, many players, including rising senior quarterback Kevin Anderson, seem to enjoy the April schedule prior to the end of the semester.
“It’s fun to actually get to play against your own team once in a while,” Anderson said. “It’s good to have them on my back, on my side during the season, but it’s also fun to get after them [in spring ball].”
Other than the competitive difference, the returning players have also adjusted to Breiner’s new role as the program’s new head coach. Although one of the youngest head coaches in all of college football at 31, Breiner sees the complete picture.
“Coach Breiner has a great vision,” Anderson said. “From being with him so much on offense and seeing how he sees offensive schemes and offensive spacing, seeing him say something about the defense [shows] he’s really got a good knack for just vision in general. That’s one thing that I really think he’s done a great job with.”
Breiner himself also could not be more pleased to get back onto the field in his new role.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” the Lock Haven University graduate said. “It’s been a good transition — at times educational. It was almost a refreshing change to get back out on the practice field and do what I love doing, which is coaching football.”
As a result of Breiner’s hiring, the program’s coaching staff has been shuffled and added to. Tyler Bowen, offensive line coach, has now also been tabbed the team’s offensive coordinator, while Joe Davis was named the program’s new pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach in February after coming over from the University of Northern Iowa.
Anderson praised the new look, calling Bowen much more than an offensive line coach “with a great knack for just football” and referring to Davis as a great asset to the quarterbacks, who is always there to talk things through not only from a playbook perspective but from a situational view.
Additionally, Ryan Davis became the team’s cornerbacks coach in 2016, while Nate Pryzbek, Kevin Reihner and Patrick Morrissey have been added to the staff in quality control roles.
Following Friday’s practice the team received its NCAA rings for the 2015 season at a ceremony in Bepler Commons. While it was an honor bestowed on the team for the third straight year, Anderson echoed that the mindset is always about improving.
“Seeing improvements in our weaknesses is really what I want to focus on,” the Marshall transfer said, mentioning the offensive unit’s improvement on third down on Friday.
This Saturday’s spring game is set to begin at 11 a.m. on Jack Coffey Field with former players expected to attend.
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