Improving chemistry was the theme when spring practice
began last year and it remained so during the offseason.
After fielding what he called the closest-knit team since he has been a head coach,
coach Pat Fitzgerald has shifted the emphasis elsewhere heading into spring
practice this season.
He claims the Wildcats were five minutes, three seconds
away from going undefeated in 2012 and wants his players to be reminded of that daily.
Players even have 5:03 printed on the back of their
"We were 5:03 away from being undefeated," Fitzgerald said. "That's an
incredible motivator. We looked hard at the reasons why that happened and it's
one thing to talk about it and another thing to create those habits. So in all
of our workouts we have created 5:03 worth of work. And it just doesn't come at
the end of the workout; it can come at any time where we go into that phase
where we need better focus, execution, technique, finish, communication ... There
are a myriad of variables that created why we didn't finish those games that we
very easily could have. We've taken the attitude that we'll find a way to make
that up in the offseason."
Players appeared to be buying in after the first spring
"That's a thing we started, we do 5:03 of a particular
exercise to build team chemistry and build the building blocks so those 5:03
don't happen again and we can pull out those games we lost last season," safety
Ibraheim Campbell said.
Here are a few other highlights from Fitzgerald's
On whether quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian
will share snaps again next season: "Absolutely. I thought a year ago, the way [offensive
coordinator] Mick [McCall] and our offensive staff were able to put together a
plan to use both Kain's and Trevor's skill sets gave us a chance to win a
championship. Now we just have to keep honing that package and making it better
but both those guys can help us win."
linemen Matt Frazier, Paul Jorgensen, Jack Konopka, Alex Pietrzak and defensive
linemen Deonte Gibson, and Will Hampton will not participate in team activities
this spring because of physical maintenance issues, which often include minor
offseason surgeries. It's the same for running back Michael Panico, wide receivers
Kyle Prater and Andrew Scanlan, super back Jack Schwaba and defensive backs
Nick VanHoose and Jarrell Williams.
our guys will come back and be somewhere close to full go by the end of spring
practice," Fitzgerald said. "Will they practice? No. But they'll be pretty
close to being cleared completely medically, so when we go into the next phase,
which is preparation for our summer, those guys will be full go, which is part
of the reason we moved spring ball up."
the likely starter at left tackle next season, replacing graduating senior
Patrick Ward. Konopka moved from tight end to right tackle and played well last
"If we had
to make a decision today, he'd probably be the left tackle," Fitzgerald said of
Konopka. "But we'll see how that unfolds. The great news about him not being
out there in the spring is we'll get to see some of these other guys who might
not have gotten as many reps."