About 65 players are on campus for voluntary offseason workouts. Players are separated into pods of 10, and can only interact with members of their pod in order to obey social distancing restrictions.
With only 85 offseason days left before the season kicks off on Chestnut Hill against Boston College, the Orange can’t practice the X’s and O’s of Tony White’s new 3-3-5 defensive scheme. They can’t go over the offense with new coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. SU is limited to strength and conditioning with just half of the roster on the Hill.
Then again, almost every college football team is facing similar hurdles, and Head Coach Dino Babers is comfortable with where the team is amidst the challenges.
“The Zoom era has helped in getting the young men to know the new systems on paper,” Babers said. “They have had sit-down situations. They have had relax time. They didn’t have to study. They didn’t have the distractions of the social things that are done with college kids in their nightlife. They might come out stronger than ever before, a real sense of what they are supposed to do mentally.”
But right now, football is not the team’s top priority. Much of the roster was shaken by George Floyd’s murder on May 25. Babers released a statement yesterday addressing the racial tension in America, and relating many of the recent race-based tragedies to his experience as an African American man. He encouraged the community to take action, and put onus on himself.
“As a young coach I was told ‘You are either coaching it or allowing it to happen.’ all lives won’t matter until Black Lives Matter,” Babers wrote. “We are either going to address the systematic racism and injustice or we are allowing it to happen.”
Babers pledged to have a formal discussion with the entire team about systematic racism, but already spoke to a few players.
“I started to hear all the young men talk to me, and how important it was for them that I get out there and say something,” Babers said. “They brought me to tears, and they opened my eyes to some things that I had not thought about.”