Practice: 3:00 p.m., April 1
Spring Game: 3:00 p.m., April 27
ALBANY, N.Y. –Spring camp is set to open at UAlbany on Monday, and like
everything they do with their football program, practice will be a tone-setting
affair. Despite being one of the final programs to start spring ball, the Danes
will end practice by the end of this month with an April 27 spring game.
In case you haven't been paying attention, things will be different at UAlbany than they have been in each of the programs' past seasons. That's because for the first time in a 14-year stint in the Northeast Conference (NEC), Head Coach Bob Ford will now prepare his team for its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
Ford (264-180-1) will be leading the Danes into both his and UAlbany's 41st varsity season with a distinct goal for spring football.
"The thing that will set this spring football season apart from any other that we have ever had is our desire and ability to improve second and third string kids, because we are going to need them," Ford said. "We're playing 12 tough games, so we've got to have a lot of kids ready to play."
Heading into new conference play, the UAlbany men will be facing a tougher schedule, while also losing eight all-conference players. A number of returning athletes still show scoring potential, however. On the offensive end, sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi returns after an impressive redshirt campaign last season, when he started all 11 games and accumulated 2,156 passing yards. Fiacchi also set a program record for completed passes in a regular season (188-of-309), with just five interceptions. Protecting the pocket are veteran lineman Kadeem Williams, Eric LaPorta, and Adam Pasnik, who each helped limit opponent sacks to a low average of 1.45 per game in 2012.
The Danes also return a deep selection down field with three starting wide receivers. Sophomore Cole King ranked second on the team with 35 receptions, 573 receiving yards and a team-high five touchdown catches; junior Kevin Chillis is a two-time NEC Special Teams Player of the Week (Oct. 1, Nov. 19), who ended his season with 901 all-purpose yards, 23 carries, 19 receptions and six touchdowns; and junior Jameel Gay, played in all 11 games, grabbing 15 receptions for a total of 187 yards.
Despite last season's undeniable scoring efficiency and the number of returning offensive threats, Ford doesn't take the switch to the CAA lightly.
"We showed the ability to move the football against some pretty decent opponents last year," Ford said. "We have a great scoring punch. The question will be if we can handle defenses that will be bigger, stronger, and faster. Time will tell."
Time will also be the ruling factor in deciding the fate of the defensive line. UAlbany will face the task of replacing four solid linebackers who helped carry UAlbany's rushing defense to top rank in the NEC and 14th in the nation. Serving as the Danes' seasoned players, sophomore defensive tackle Tim Kologrivov, who finished with 24 tackles, and junior defensive end Andrew Smith, who totaled 28 tackles, forced two fumbles and recorded four sacks, seem to be set in the starting lineup. For many of the starting roles, however, the spring will offer young players and newcomers the chance to seal their fates in a starting position.
"The number one goal in spring football is get through healthy," Ford said. "Number two will be to establish a depth chart. The number three goal will be to develop younger kids so they are ready to play, and the fourth thing will be to answer some starting position questions."
UAlbany spring football will consist of 15 practices, including two full scrimmages and a Spring Game.
All Great Dane football practices will be open to the public. Full gear scrimmages will take place on April 13th and April 20th, in addition to the Spring Game. Fans are reminded that dates and times are subject to change due to weather.
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