The 2018 Appalachian State football season is underway, as the team began their first
spring practice February 5, 2018. Coming off of their third straight bowl game win, the team
plans to continue their success in the Sun Belt Conference.
Despite the 34-0 blowout victory that the Mountaineers had against Toledo in last year’s
Dollar General Bowl, Appalachian State Running Backs and Special Teams Coordinator, Stu
Holt, believes that the team still has motivation to improve more for the upcoming season.
“I think our players do a good job of understanding that each season is its own,” Holt
said. “Once the season’s over and hopefully we’ve achieved our goals, then it’s time to go
achieve them again. The guys understand the expectation.”
Holt is using these spring practices to help evaluate some of the team’s younger players
to see where they fit in with the team, as well as helping the younger players improve their skills.
This is the first substantial time a lot of the new players have gotten since being on the team so Holt uses this time to teach these young guys as much as he can about the system. These early practices are also great for the incoming upper-classmen, who will be looking to take on bigger leadership roles on the team.
Holt sees these early practices as an advantage, due to the fact that the football team still
has last season on their minds and gives them a good opportunity to move on while having fresh
memories of where the team needs to improve for the upcoming season.
Assistant Athletic Director for Football and Equipment Operations, Josh Thompson, said
the team has been treating this offseason like they have the last couple years and that this time of the year is “big for the team.”
The team will continue these early practices throughout Spring break, then will begin to
focus on more specific skills and training for the upcoming season.
“From that point [after Spring break] until August, they’re working out almost every day
they’re here, they’re working out to get better,” Thompson said.
Thompson also said that these workouts involve the team as a whole rather than having
players conduct individual workouts.
“Everything we do is more team-based. Yeah you’ve got your lift groups and your lift
times, but everything in football is centered around the team. You’re doing it together and in
groups,” said Thompson.
App State Director of Athletic Training for Men’s Basketball, Jon Mitchell, believes that
the risk of fatigue becomes much higher having practices this early in an offseason, but this risk
can be handled with the correct moderation.
“These new kids are coming in and are thrown into the wolves. How are they going to
react? Some of it comes to education and staying on top of teaching them the right things to do,”
This is something that the Appalachian State football staff is well aware of. The school
starts off practices wearing helmets, then they slowly transition by adding on shoulder pads and
eventually move on to full padded practices as they continue through the offseason.
Each football program is different on how they want to train their players. Some focus on
hitting much more quickly into the year while other systems might focus more on teaching.
“I’d say we’re in between the two,” said Thompson. “We want to hit some, but we also
want to teach.”
The middle-ground allows for players to get used to hits that football brings to the table
while also trying to prevent injury.
Appalachian State has a long way to go until their 2018-19 kickoff against Penn State,
but expect the team to be ready to fight for a fifth winning season come September.