What Michigan Football Is Doing During The COVID-19 Pandemic
These truly are unprecedented times.
In my 35 years of life, I've never seen sports cancelled across the board like this. That means it's pretty safe to say that coaches across the country have never had to deal with anything like this before. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan coaches and staff members are doing everything they can to make sure the players are as focused as they can be.
A source very close to the program spoke with Wolverine Digest and shed some light on exactly what the staffers are doing and how it's working so far as everyone tries to power through these trying times.
One of the biggest concerns is the strength and conditioning that players are missing out on. Head strength coach Ben Herbert needs to have his guys in the weight room. Since they're not, they've had to get creative.
"It’s been a little bit of a struggle for the guys to find a place to work out with all of the gyms and weight rooms closed," our source said. "Some of the guys have worked out with some Lions players. It’s basically any place that they can find. There are some local high schools where they can get out on the field.
"It’s interesting how the the athletic department has kept the players engaged. They have teams and they have challenges for the guys everyday. Maybe it’s pushups or one-arm presses with objects around the house. It’s an all-day thing and each team gets points based on what, when and how they do the challenges.
"Guys like Ben Mason, Kwity Paye, Carlo Kemp, Aidan Hutchinson, Nick Eubanks, Quinn Nordin and some others are “captains” of the teams. Those guys have to make sure everybody gets their stuff submitted. In order to complete the challenges the players have to take pictures of their beds or the workouts."
Another huge area of concern is the players' diets. Imagine more than 100 finely-tuned athletes between the ages of 18-22 suddenly being cooped up at home trying to maintain a level of nutrition that they're used to getting at U-M. Team dietician Abigail O'Connor is one of the best in the business and she's been hard at work to try and keep the guys on track.
"The players take pictures of all their meals and Abigail will look at them and make comments to them," our source said. "She’s been telling some guys to have more vegetables in the mornings or whatever. She's just trying to keep them from letting go. It's not the same as if they were on campus, but they're trying to keep it as close as they can."
Finally, there's the football and academic side of things that have been altered more than anything. It's hard enough to teach football when coaches are on the field with their players. Being scattered all over the country makes it nearly impossible, but the coaches are exhausting every resource they have to get as much accomplished as possible. The same goes for the school side of things.
"They’ve been having virtual meetings — those are usually 35-45 minutes or so," our source said. "There are small position group meetings. The young freshmen are meeting separately to get them up to speed the best they can. The kids are always on their phones so it’s been a great way to keep them engaged.
"Guys are even doing homework, like writing papers and doing online quizzes and tests on their phones, so it’s all encompassing for them being away from the facilities all the time."
The good thing is that it's a level playing field. The same challenges Michigan is working through, everyone else is working through. It's cool to hear about how the coaches and staffers have adapted, but let's just get back to normal already.