MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — During these “unprecedented times,” as West Virginia football coach Neal Brown called it, the Mountaineers players and coaches are trying to make of the most out of time lost in spring practice due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
While the Big 12 announced March 12 there could be no athletic activity or sporting events until March 29, Brown said he and the coaching staff have used this time to make sure players are doing what they can — safely — to stay in shape and work remotely on their academics.
“We’ve had two team meetings using this tool, Zoom,” said Brown, who met with the media Thursday morning through Zoom, a remote video conferencing service. “They have also either gotten on Zoom or FaceTime with their accountability teams or accountability coaches. We’re really challenging our guys to get into a routine, that’s really important. Eyeball-to-eyeball — get eyeballs on everybody within our organization on a daily basis.”
Strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph and student-athlete development director Brittney O’Dell have also been in consistent contact with the everyone. Players who already were taking online classes began Monday following spring break, but others, to go along with WVU’s decision to move all classes online for the rest of the semester, will begin next Monday.
For Joseph, he sent out three different workouts, depending on what players have access to. One plan is if someone has access to a typical weight room setup; another is those who have limited access, such as a weight bench or squat rack; and the third is for those who have nothing on the equipment front.
With the latter, Joseph’s plan is to work on conditioning, which is the top goal the coaching staff wants players to keep on top of.
“We know there’s going to be some strength drop off, but [Joseph] is more concerned about the running aspect of it,” Brown said. “Right now, we don’t have the ability to track whether guys are doing it or not, so we’re leaning on giving them things they can potentially do. It’s our hope that they’re doing something, but we can’t mandate anything.”
While it could be extended, Saturday is when the coaches are allowed to initiate football-related activities. There is an eight-hour offseason rule in place, so if football activities can resume, Brown is trying to figure out the best way to utilize those eight hours remotely.
“If we get permission to do position meetings — it’s been trial and error with that all week — what way do we want to do that?” he said. “What’s the best way we can have participation? What’s the video look like? If we want to quiz guys on what they’re retaining, how do we do that? What I’m leaning toward is trying to use as little pieces of technology as possible. We’re trying not to introduce a whole bunch of new things because when you do that, you’re just changing one more thing. They’ve already got so much changing in their lives, so we’re trying to keep things as condensed as possible.”
A message from Neal Brown
“This is obviously a serious situation. We can do our best work just by staying at home. Who would have thought you can do your best work just by doing nothing? I encourage everybody to support local businesses and support local news. I think that’s something that gets over-shadowed. We talk about local business a lot, but support local news, whether it’s radio, print , television, all of that’s important. Stay safe.”