The NCAA outlines specific rules around how many football practices each team can have before the college football season actually begins. For 2012, the number of practices is fifteen and UVA Head Coach, Mike London uses several of these events as road trips. The road trip method provides the program with an opportunity to recruit future players, drive community involvement, increase fan exposure/support and provide the entire department with a controlled environment for future road trip testing.
Today, one of these spring practices took place in Northern Virginia at Fairfax High School. Despite some cool temperatures and a steady drizzle throughout the day, Barbie and I made the short drive over to check out the program.
We were one of the few groups of people that came out prepared for the rain. We had a pop-up shelter that had the ability to stagger the leg length which was perfect for setting-up on the bleachers. As soon as we arrived, we got some UVA swag in t-shirts, key chains and season ticket information. As soon as we sat down to watch the practice, it took only seconds to spot Mike London. Not only was he the only person on the field with a camouflage UVA hat, but you could see his presence even from the top of the stands.
The overall practice looked good, and it was very fan friendly. Not only did the team have music playing through out the drills, but the coaches were using the game clocks to keep the crowd informed of how long each drill would last. Furthermore, as each new drill began, an announcer would tell the crowd what was happening next and what the intent was.
Throughout the practice, the safety of the student athletes was paramount with little to no tackling at all for the first 90 minutes of the two hour proactive. However, for the last fifteen minutes of the event, the drills were replace with team on team scrimmaging. For this scrimmage, the objective was for each team (Blue or White) to get into field goal range. This was quite exciting, and both of the defensive squads that were on the field really turned up their intensity.
We are hoping that this year’s team can build on the success of last year’s appearance in the Chic-fil-A bowl. And we are looking forward to future years spring practices being held again in Northern Virginia. Go ‘Hoos!