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Practice limits praised at UNH football Media Day

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 03. 2017 10:07PM
University of New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell, center, jokes with his senior players, from left, Jerickson Fedrick of Salem, Jake Kennedy, Will McInery, Rick Holt (72), Max Pedinoff, Nick Marino and Geno Miller during UNH Football Media Day in Durham on Thursday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

DURHAM — University of New Hampshire football coach Sean McDonnell fully supports the NCAA’s decision earlier this year to eliminate multiple-contact preseason practices for its Division I (FCS and FBS) football programs.

The new rule:

“A single day may include a single, three-hour, on-field practice session and a walk-through. During walk-throughs protective equipment such as helmets and pads can’t be worn, and contact is prohibited. Walk-throughs also can’t include conditioning activities and, in the Football Championship Subdivision, are limited to two hours in length. Three continuous hours of recovery are required between on-field practice and a walk-through. Activities such as meetings, film review, medical treatment and meals are allowed during recovery time.”

“What it does is give you an opportunity to recover,” McDonnell said during UNH media day Thursday. “I’m no rocket scientist about all this stuff, but my main man Chip Kelly was. He used to talk about recovery all the time.

“The old-school guy in me would love to be practicing double sessions, but the new part of it is, ‘Are we physically ready to do that at this time?’ I think it’s a very, very good thing that the NCAA has done.”

The NCAA also passed legislation that allows Division I teams to begin preseason practices a week earlier this year than in the past. UNH players reported on Aug. 1 this year, and Aug. 7 last year. A team can have as many as 29 practices before its first game.

UNH defensive coordinator John Lyons, the former head coach at Dartmouth, said the new rule has changed very little for UNH, other than shortening the team’s summer. Lyons said UNH had no more than five or six true double-session preseason practices last year.

“It’s a situation that will be better for the kids,” Lyons said. “Hopefully they get more rest. We’ll have a practice and a walk-through pretty much every day, it’s just not full speed like it was when we had a helmet practice.

“I think there’s a big emphasis in the NCAA on player safety. I think that that’s all part of it. I don’t know if concussions per se was the main reason, I just think they’re looking for ways to make it better for players.

“In the old days we used to have doubles forever. It’s much better now.”

*****

UNH linebacker Kyle Reisert suffered an injury to his right foot Wednesday and was on crutches during media day. Reisert, who played at Plymouth Regional High School, said he will have X-rays taken today. … The Wildcats return six starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that went 8-5 overall (6-2 CAA) last season. The returning starters include Reisert, quarterback Trevor Knight (Amherst), offensive tackle Will McInerny (Bedford), defensive tackle Rick Holt (Portsmouth), linebacker Jared Kuehl (Plymouth) and strong safety Michael Balsamo (Atkinson). … The Wildcats are scheduled to open their season Aug. 31 at home against Maine.

rbrown@unionleader.com


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