JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— With an overall record of 2-8, a 1-7 record in the conference, 2-3 at home, and 0-5 away, it was not the season that the 2018 Jacksonville University football team was hoping for.
Although they cannot change the past, they are working hard to change the future.
In sports, the offseason is the time to reflect and improve for the upcoming regular season. Players and coaches are given the opportunity to learn without anything being at stake.
The annual spring game happens with every D1 collegiate football team. On March 30 at 1 p.m. at D.B. Milne Field, the Dolphins will have their spring game.
At the helm of JU’s football team for the last three years is head coach, Ian Shields. Shields, who has been coaching football for 25 years, explains how the spring game will help prepare the team for a better season.
“There’s no substitute for repetition and for gaining experience,” he said. “What we try to do is put our guys in live situations. That way we can see who is taking the breakdown and fundamental drills and using them in game-like situations.”
Although the game is the highlight of the spring season, it will not be the team’s first time back together since the end of the fall season.
Since January, the team has worked hard behind the scenes. They lift weights and do running workouts three times a week. In late February, spring practices began. The team had to wake up at 5 a.m. three days a week in order to prepare for March 30.
Jake Copeland, one of the assistant coaches for the team, has been at JU for two years. His responsibilities include coaching the safeties and recruiting. Copeland acknowledges that at the spring game the team will show off all of their hard work.
“It’s a combination of all the hard work the guys have put into the offseason,” he said. “It is their time to display how they have gotten better in the past couple of months. This spring game is a big celebration for the guys. It’s always good to see your hard work rewarded.”
For the Dolphins, accountability has been a major theme for the spring season. Having every player hold each other to a higher standard is what the coaches think will take them to the next level.
“We’re starting to see a lot of the younger guys push the older guys and that’s the only way you’re going to get better, is through competition,” Copeland said.
In hopes of a better upcoming season, the coaching staff has shuffled some players around to new positions that they believe will help the team excel.
Vasco Sanders Jr., a sophomore communication major, was switched from linebacker to free safety during the offseason. As a free safety, he is now the last line of defense and takes great pride in it.
“I look forward to demonstrating my speed, ability to find the ball, and showing that the secondary defense will be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season,” he said.
Other new positions came about as well.
Calvin Turner Jr., a sophomore kinesiology major and quarterback for the team, will not be playing this spring due to an injury from last season. However, he does not allow this injury to stop him from learning.
“This spring game will be a time to watch and learn about my teammates,” he said. “This spring will also allow me to develop as a leader for my team, but from the sidelines.”
The spring game is open to the public to create a fun atmosphere for the team and the fans. JU students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to come out and support.
“It’s going to be a show,” said Sanders. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and a different Jacksonville football team, so prepare yourselves.”