No doubt, the 2020 Middle Tennessee fall camp is like no other the football program has undergone; however, head coach Rick Stockstill was pleased with Friday's opener.
"I was impressed with how the players approached it from a mental standpoint. I thought it was a good practice," Stockstill said. "We were further ahead from a conditioning standpoint than I expected. The effort and attention to detail was really good."
Social distancing and other variables prompted changes in how practice was conducted from spacing, to water breaks and even post-practice routines.
For example, water breaks were spaced out and groups of players were unable to gather and talk during those breaks. In the past the multiple players would have ice baths post-practice with the majority of the team taking part. This year, players are utilizing individual tubs with only 20 taking place at a time. Offensive and defensive players will rotate daily.
There's also only a limited number of players permitted in the locker room at a time.
"This is not a typical camp," Stockstill said. "We are still figuring things out. There is nothing normal about it and it is frustrating in a way because you have to adapt by the day, the hour, almost by the minute. At the same time, we are happy to be back on the field and preparing for the season."
Stockstill said the nine days of walk-throughs the NCAA permitted prior to the start of camp clearly had a positive impact with Middle Tennessee's younger players on the first day of camp.
"The nine days of walk-through definitely helped our young guys," Stockstill said. "Our freshmen are further ahead of any freshmen class we've had. I was really pleased with that aspect."
With camp officially underway Stockstill was clear regarding the outlook for the next three weeks.
"Expectations are the same from a football standpoint," Stockstill said. "The sense of urgency has raised exponentially. Will we play our opener Sept. 5? I don't know, but we sure are preparing as though we are. That's our expectation. I just want to play and this team wants to play."
Middle Tennessee will continue fall camp with practices scheduled Saturday and Sunday. All practices are closed.