Trying to make the best of their COVID-19 induced isolation, the Owls are spending four hours per week on the video conference platform Zoom. Players spend two hours learning their new schemes and two more hours receiving position-centric coaching.
“That gives us some time for our individual coaches to also get with our players on Zoom individually or by position and also academically make sure our guys are on top of it,” Taggart said.
Every football program nationally is struggling to find ways to make this spring as close to normal as possible, but the current set of challenges are amplified for first-year coaches like Taggart who are still trying to assess their new teams.
“You don’t get to see your guys actually go out and do the football part of it, where you get a great evaluation of your football team,” Taggart said. “Whenever you are taking over a program you really don’t know what you have until you get on the football field, and go through the meetings, and get on the field and see how much your guys can retain and actually go out and execute, and you have a better feel for your team.”
The process hasn’t exactly been smooth. Taggart noted that some players don’t have computers of their own to connect to the conferencing. Others lack high speed internet access.
FAU has sent some players computers to allow them follow along.
Taggart and his coaches contact some players via Facetime or other apps when they can. They also help players locate safe internet access.
“You just try to find different ways,” Taggart said.
The lack of computers or access is more than a football problem.
Players need to complete their spring academic work. Where Taggart and his staff once met with the program’s academic advisers weekly, they are now meeting twice each week.
“Some guys are good learning on the video and some guys are good learning there on the board in person,” Taggart said. “I thing that’s one thing that kind of hurts being away right now is understanding our players a little better, understanding how they learn. Some guys are different than others. Usually you figure some of those things out during spring ball. Unfortunately we don’t have that now.”
Like most everyone trying to make the best of a sick situation, Taggart doesn’t have any insight into when football practice, or the season for that matter, can begin.
Some athletic directors have privately discussed the ramifications of potentially delaying the start of the football season to the spring semester.
Until recently, Taggart had never considered a fall absent of football.
Now he wonders whether the coronavirus is the Grinch in disguise.
“I still can’t get a grasp on what this country would be like without football,” Taggart said. “It’s America’s sport. Everybody gets excited when football comes around. It’s like Christmas.”