By Jonathan Okanes
Monday, August 31st, 2009 at 11:13 am in Mid-week.
Jeff Tedford said last night was the first time he can remember that the team practiced at night. In the past, some practices have gone on into the early evening. For instance, regular season practices used to go from 4-6:30 p.m on Tuesday and Wednesday and 4-6 p.m. on Thursday (they’ve been moved up one hour earlier this season). But Sunday’s practice started at 6:30 p.m. and ended just before 9 p.m.
The reason? Memorial Stadium now has two permanent, although at the same time temporary, light stands. Two light stands have been installed on the West side of the stadium. In years past, temporary lights have been brought in for night games. But because of construction of the student-athlete high-performance center, it is now problematic to bring in the lights with the big hole in the ground outside the stadium.
The new lights, above both ends of the press box, will be there as long as construction and renovations are taking place. The renovation of the stadium should include new permanent lights all the way around. Until then, temporary lights still will be brought for the east side of the stadium for night games.
“It’s similar to game time,” Tedford said about his reasoning for holding a nighttime practice. “It’s a chance to see what these new lights are like. There are a lot of things you are looking at. It’s just a matter of putting the team on the field at game time.”
As we get closer to the game and further away from training camp, there will be more focus on the opponent. Tedford said it’s been a little challenging to prepare for Maryland because the Terps have a new defensive coordinator in Don Brown. Brown came from UMass, and the Bears have been watching tape of his defenses there, but it’s just not the same when you’re dealing with brand new personnel.
“There is a little unknown there,” Tedford said. “When you have a scheme going in that you don’t have any history with, it’s pretty hard to be 100 percent sure what you are going to see. You can see the schemes, but I’m sure things have changed. Anytime you open the season against a nonconference opponent with a new coordinator, there’s always going to be the chance of surprise. We just have to make sure we have our bases covered.”
I talked a a little with wide receiver Nyan Boateng last night. Boateng was the Bears’ leading receiver last season but apparently has fallen behind starters Marvin Jones and Verran Tucker. Last year when he found out he wouldn’t be starting at the beginning of the season, Boateng expressed frustration and disappointment. He was much more philosophical about it this time around.
“It’s a long season and I know I’ll get my shot,” he said. “I’m going to try to make the best of it and make plays for this team. Somebody has to start the game. When I do go in, I just have to continue to stay focused, just do the task at hand and handle what I have to handle.”
The Bears run a lot of three receiver sets and Boateng expects to be that third guy when the offense calls for it.