Tuesday was to be the start of Indiana State’s spring football activities, but like everything else in the sports world, the coronavirus crisis put a stop to the usual procedure.
Football is slated to return for August practices … for now. At that point, ISU will be trying to figure out how to bounce back from a 5-7 record during the 2019 season.
Today Top 5 deals with the five things to think about when it comes to ISU football when and if the season resumes in the fall.
Some of these rankings deal with the usual positional question marks, but there’s more to the resumption of football then just that. This crisis has put football in a unique quandary.
5. Boosting the receiving options - ISU was ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference in passing in 2019. While the quarterback position being in unexpected flux played a big role, Dante Hendrix was the only consistent threat on the outside regardless of who was throwing the ball.
Recruiting attempted to address that. ISU will have 6-5 wide receiver Harry Van Dyne, a Minnesota transfer, on the roster. ISU has not had a big receiver in several years and it should help.
4. Offensive line – ISU lost everyone but Isaiah Edwards from its extremely experienced 2019 line.
Clearly, the Sycamores will be working in fresh blood. One player, Jose Vazquez, did play a lot in 2019 when Edwards got hurt. Max Morgan-Elliott, Alvin Clemons and Frederik Fabricius also have experience, Fabricius started late in the 2019 season.
The line was an emphasis of offseason recruiting and their will be an infusion of new talent, but building a line takes time. This will be an interesting unit to watch in 2020.
3. Conditioning and offseason regimen - The interruption in the usual run of things will have an interesting effect on football. It’s a sport predicated on a certain ritual – on-campus conditioning, spring practice, off-season conditioning done among the players, preseason practice, and then game weeks.
At this stage of the season, the on-campus conditioning that leads into spring ball are both interrupted. Players don’t have access to any gym facilities, most being shut down by stay-in-shelter edicts, and few would have access to the level of the facility housed inside ISU’s athletic headquarters.
Of course, coaches at all programs will do their best to create a regimen, but there’s only so much they can do and only so much they have control over.
This isn’t the 1960s where players at all levels used to preseason practice to get back in shape. Being in proper condition is supposed to be a given, but will it be this year? And what kind of effect will lack of access to facilities have on the game?
2. Quarterback – Of course, the quarterback position is a big part of how good ISU can be in 2020. Ryan Boyle won’t be back. Kurtis Wilderman and Gunnar See, both of whom started games in 2019, are back, but they have company.
Anthony Thompson, who played at Northern Illinois in 2019, is transferring to ISU. A true freshman, Cade Chambers, is also on the way.
Then there’s the option/wildcat look ISU used on the fly in 2019. Dominique Dafney is gone, but Michael Haupert returns and will undoubtedly see time in that role again.
1. Will the season go on? – The big elephant in the room is whether football will come back at all.
Non-expert conventional wisdom seems to be that there will be a lull during the summer months after a peak in April or May. That timeline depends on what the speed of the outbreak is, whether social distancing is working, and how virulent it ends up being. Either way, many hope college sports can get back on-track by preseason practices.
But there’s no guarantee. One thing no one yet knows is whether the virus will come back in the fall? Or will it disappear in the summer as anticipated? What will the level of preparedness be by that point? If the virus does come back, will we be more prepared to the point where some activities will go on anyway?
The decisions that will effect this are beyond football’s control. If campuses are closed, football will not go on. It’s a big unknown in which many are hoping for the best and cringing about what could be the worst case scenario.