By Brandon Emsweller
As the temperatures rise, the University of Findlay’s football team’s dedication and focus rise, too. Spring workouts have begun.
Rob Keys, head coach, says that last season did not go as planned.
According to Keys, UF’s goal to enter the 2014 playoffs failed so the Oilers will be taking a new approach in preparing for the 2015 season ahead by focusing on the first game first and foremost.
“Coming out of winter conditioning, you’re focusing on improvements on the strength and speed aspect and kind of create a new team chemistry. Because we graduated 19 seniors, there are a lot of familiar faces that are no longer with us. We are now trying to create that team and that identity for the 2015 season starts,” said Keys.
The fall season for the football team was not an easy one to swallow, but Keys will not change his process during spring training.
“The process pretty much stays the same. We weren’t satisfied with how last season went, but we believe in the process and the foundation we have here and if you prepare like we did for year one, two, and three we had winning results. Just because we didn’t have the season we liked doesn’t mean we have to panic and shift gears,” said Keys.
Once the 2014 season was over so was Verlon Reed’s career. That quarterback slot is empty at the moment.
“We have three quarterbacks currently on the roster. Reese Jarvis, a transfer from Western Illinois, came in mid-semester. We also have redshirt sophomore Darnell Fields who played quarterback and wide receiver who will play as a full-time quarterback, and the last one is Josh Pennington. He is our other freshman quarterback who was redshirted. These three quarterbacks will get an even amount of reps and we will see who rises to the top,” said Keys.
Some of the quarterbacks are at a younger status, and most of the team is young coming into the 2015 season. Senior offensive linemen Bobby Brown addresses how the team tries to make younger players feel a part of the team.
“I would say involving guys even outside of football, because it isn’t just about football it’s also off the field. I think I do a pretty decent job with it by hanging out with some of the young offensive linemen on the weekends. You just have to talk to them every day and ask them how they are doing or how their day is. You just can’t pass anybody up, because they are kind of like your brothers,” said Brown.
While figuring ways out to fit younger players into the team, Brown believes that they have to play together—more so than they did last season.
“I think we have to play more as a team. I think that was one of the biggest problems, and we didn’t come together as much. Also we found out that you can have all the talent you want, but you still can’t get the job done,” said Brown.
While dealing with this issue of creating a team atmosphere there has to be a leadership role, and senior running back Daiquone Ford says he fits the part.
“Now is a chance for me is to lead more. Later on in this past season I started to do that. Also on the field I want to be the guy that’s doing everything right and to lead by example,” said Ford.
Now that the team has some goals for this spring season, the question is if they are focusing on playoffs for the 2015 season, and Keys would disagree with that statement.
“The playoff aspect is the least of our concern right now and I hate to put that on the back burner, but this league is so tough. We need to focus on each game at time and our first focus is Hillsdale, because that is game one under the lights with a big atmosphere,” said Keys.