Troy football coach Chip Lindsey believes the new six-week preseason practice plan announced by the NCAA on Wednesday will allow his staff enough time to identify who should lead his team into battle at quarterback this season.
Still, early impressions will be important, especially since the Trojans got in only five days of work before the coronavirus pandemic shut down campuses across the nation in March for the remainder of the spring semester.
“Once we get into fall camp in the middle of August, we need to have a really good idea who our leader is in that position and who we can count on,” Lindsey said on Thursday during a Zoom video conference with media members.
“I’m thinking there are going to be two or three guys who are very capable of playing, it’s just going to be deciding who goes out there first and gets the first shot, and that will take care of itself with practice and reps and that kind of stuff. And then you’ve got to play well to stay out there. That’s just the way it is.”
Gunnar Watson, Parker McNeil and Jacob Free were the frontrunners battling for the starting quarterback job during the spring before practices came to a halt. Freshman Kyle Toole also joins the mix as the Trojans look to replace last year’s starter, Kaleb Barker, who has graduated.
Under the six-week plan, teams can begin having eight hours per week of weight training, conditioning and film study from July 13-23. From July 24-Aug. 6, workouts can include walk-throughs, team and individual meetings. Preseason practices can begin on Aug. 7.
Lindsey doesn’t plan on platooning quarterbacks once the season kicks off.
“I don’t see that happening,” Lindsey said. “Once we get a guy established as the guy, the way we do our offense, that No. 1 guy needs to get 80 or 90 percent of the reps.
“From that standpoint, unless he’s not playing well or not leading the team the right way, we would probably lean on staying with that guy. Obviously if we struggle, you’re always looking for an opportunity to make the team improve, or make your offense improve, but in our system, I just believe the No. 1 guy needs to get the reps with the ones.
“Now it may take some time to make that decision, but I think those things will shake out as we move through fall camp.”
Players returned to campus on June 1 and are currently involved with voluntary workouts.
“It sounds cool to be off for three or four months and be at home and not be doing anything, but I think they all were like us in that they got some cabin fever and got bored with it,” Lindsey said. “We’ve tried to really stress to them that these voluntary workouts are laid out like they are so as to prepare their bodies to get to the point to where we can practice without injuring ourselves.
“I like the way our team has approached that. I think Rusty Whitt, our strength coach, has laid out a great plan. Rusty, a veteran guy who has been a head strength coach for I guess 15 years now, really understands the things that go on for preparing the body to get back to practice.
“They understand we’re living in a different world now from the guidelines of what we’re having to do, but we’ve had no issues with those guys participating and doing it the right way.”
Athletic director Brent Jones indicated a “handful” within the staff and team tested positive for COVID-19 and were quarantined, isolated and given the appropriate medical treatment.
“For the most part, they were asymptomatic, meaning they did not even know that they had the virus,” Jones said. “It’s an ongoing deal with testing and symptoms, so numbers can change from time to time.”
Jones remains optimistic college football will be played this fall and said ticket sales are going well.
“Over the last two weeks we’ve sold over 1,000 season tickets, which is tremendous and we’re going to continue to push forward with that. I think that shows the magnitude of our fans and how excited they are about our football season,” Jones said. “We’re tracking on pace for the same of what we had last year, which was a record amount of season tickets sold.”
Jones also said different plans are being considered regarding possible stadium guidelines due to the COVID-19.
“We’re working through our protocols and models right now,” Jones said. “Currently, we are at 100 percent capacity, but we will work with whatever guidelines the state and local agencies and officials say that we need to do.
“We’re also working on different models for all of our fans, whether that be social-distancing sections as well as reserved seats. We want to be able to offer the best game day environment and fan experience as possible.
“I would like to say one of the things that we can guarantee to all of our fans, is if you purchase season tickets, you will be guaranteed a seat inside Veterans Memorial Stadium. That’s something important we really want to make sure that our fans know as part of this.”
Troy is scheduled to open the season at home on Sept. 5 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.