After the shock of Mel Tucker’s abrupt departure as head coach of Colorado Football, the break for COVID-19 gave the players a chance to reflect.
In a press conference with offensive and defensive lineman Will Sherman and Mustafa Johnson, both players expressed their views on the “weird” situation.
“It was going so fast when Coach Tucker left. That was a huge surprise. Then we hired coach Dorrell, then next thing we know spring ball is being cancelled. It was just month after month something new was coming up,” Sherman said. “I think once we got sent home, we got to cool down a bit.”
Now they’re getting back to work.
As outlined by Rick George in a press conference on May 28, the athletes have been split into smaller groups for workouts to prevent large gatherings.
“There's an a, b, c, d, e and f group. There’s a bunch of different groups,” Johnson said. “We have different strength and conditioning coaches so we’ll have this strength coach this day, this other strength coach that day, so it’s like we’re isolated.”
Johnson says the workouts themselves are normal, but there’s one aspect he misses from previous years.
“Normally it would be like all the linemen are doing this workout together and skill. Doing that, it's easy to compete with these guys,” Johnson said. “But now, since we're trying to do the whole social distancing and stuff like that, we’re separated so it's not as much competition as what I would like.”
Both Will Sherman and Mustafa Johnson said they will have to learn new schemes and techniques with the new head coach and new position coaches. Neither has gotten the chance to spend time with the head coach Karl Dorrell.
“Honestly, we really didn't get to know him well at all, because we literally left as soon as he came in,” Johnson said.
Those interactions may have to wait. Dorrell previously said he would like to keep the small groups for the time being– the bigger meetings would have to be on Zoom. Meanwhile the players are trying to balance the rules of social distancing while learning the new schemes.
“I have the rest of the day to myself to go over film or what we're doing outside,” Sherman said. “Trying to just meet with a small amount of people and go over plays. Just do extra stuff, while just being very very cautious.”
Colorado Athletics reopened their facilities for athletes to begin voluntary workouts on Monday, June 15. Prior to accessing the facilities, all of the athletes underwent physicals and coronavirus testing.
“I was pretty nervous just because of just traveling and you know going through Denver International Airport you know a lot of people obviously come and go through there,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have to do the horrible swab. It was the easy swab, quick and efficient.”
Aside from the coronavirus and the new coaching staff, both players say their biggest source of anxiety is the impending season and how it will look.
“My thought on it is we can’t really even have contact and do stuff with our own teammates, how are we going to get on the field in a full contact sport, and expect to not have any contact?” Johnson said. “Sacking the quarterback and social distancing do not work together.”
So far, Colorado has not released the number of positive cases amongst their athletes, or whether any of them have tested positive.