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Albany Kicks Off Practice
ALBANY - Just one look at University at Albany coach Bob Ford will let you know it’s football season again for the Great Danes.
He’s got his straw hat and the self-admitted football junkie is ready to roll.
“That’s my fix,” Ford said. “It’s a fix for a lot of coaches and it’s a fix for a lit of kids. They enjoy the sport, they enjoy the camaraderie and they enjoy the physical aspect and the challenges.”
He could be overhead telling one player on Monday’s first practice of the season, to speed up in moving from one drill to another and that he shouldn’t need an invitation.
“There’s a certain amount of enthusiasm that goes with the first day, both for the coaches and the athletes,” Ford said.
Ford is one to listen to.
He began his 40th season at the collegiate level Monday afternoon and he has 225 wins under his belt.
Still, he tells his teams you can’t pick up where left off last season - the Great Danes won the NEC title and finished 8-4 in 2007.
“You can not pick up where you left off,” Ford said. “That’s virtually impossible from a statistical viewpoint or from a personnel viewpoint. The faces change and you start anew every year.”
UAlbany became only the fifth team in league history to go undefeated through the league schedule last year and still Ford says it was a “fairly good job.”
That’s Ford - he expects a good season and he feels like the 2008 version of the Great Danes could be good.
“We have reason to believe we should have another pretty good football team,” Ford said.
“The first day is always tough,” UAlbany coach Bob Ford said. “You are trying to take 32 freshmen and squeeze them in with 60-plus veterans to make them part of the squad. This slows the process, but everyone in the country goes through it. The vast majority of the team is in great physical condition, and the freshman class may be better than I thought.”
One of the big reasons for optimism is junior running back David McCarty, whom Ford calls “a great tailback.”
McCarty, from Gansevoort and a La Salle Institute graduate, finished with 1,503 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2007.
“We hope he’ll have the same type of year, if not better,” Ford said.
McCarty, one of four team captains thought the first day of practice went well.
“It went well as an offensive unit,” McCarty said. “There weren’t as many mental mistakes. In years past, it may have been more lackadaisical.”
McCarty hopes that the team can build off of a successful season, but won’t let a probable No. 1 league preseason ranking get to their heads.
“We can’t let that get to our heads,” says McCarty of the preseason hype. “If we do that, we’ll be all right.”
McCarty along with co-captain Nik Shultz, a Burnt Hills native, are two of 24 Section II players on the UAlbany team this season.
“Section II was never really known for having great teams, but it’s good to have a lot of people on a Division I-AA team from Section II,” McCarty said. “It’s great to have a lot of local guys on this team.”
“I think we have a little bit of an advantage there because the university is first, a great university,” Ford said. “Second, we try to establish a rapport with all of the high school coaches. There are a lot of Section II coaches that work hard at this game.”
The team will be tested right out of the gate as they play their first four games - all on the road - against full-scholarship programs.
“It’s by far the most challenging,” said Ford of the Great Danes schedule.
UAlbany begins the 2008 season at Massacussetts on Saturday, August 30 at 6 p.m.
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