Blue Hens wrapping up spring practice

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(STATS) - The instructing, evaluating and developing that goes on during spring practice makes it one of Danny Rocco's favorite times of the year.

It's a little different at Delaware this year because the Blue Hens' new coach is getting to know his team - and vice versa.

The Rocco era is well underway with the Blue Hens pointing toward the 2017 season. They'll conclude spring practice on Saturday with their annual intrasquad game at Delaware Stadium in Newark.

Rocco arrived at Delaware (4-7) following a successful five-year run at Richmond. He's stepped across CAA Football to take on the challenge of reviving the Blue Hens' tradition-rich program, which is coming off its first back-to-back losing seasons since 1938-39.

With 19 returning starters and a large senior class, the Blue Hens have the chance to make quick improvement.

"I was out there on the (Delaware Stadium) field when I brought my Richmond team here in 2013," Rocco said. "I can remember walking the field before the game, seeing the six national championship banners, and I just took it all in. I think I knew at that time that I felt this place could really be special again."

While the running game is particularly strong, Delaware's passing offense has been among the worst in the FCS the last two seasons. Redshirt junior Joe Walker, the returning quarterback, and lefty redshirt sophomore Pat Kehoe have battled during the spring, both offering a different style of play.

The defense is replacing only one starter. Among the returnees are senior linebacker Charles Bell, who made the All-CAA first team, and linebacker Troy Reeder and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, who were second-team selections.

Delaware will open the season by hosting Delaware State on Aug. 31.