What’s happening off the grass

Getting a break in the spring, the 8,000-seat stadium houses all of Saddleback’s home football games during the season. Presley Davis/Lariat

Countless articles acknowledge that football, the kind where you only kick the ball on occasion,  is the most popular sport in the United States. 

However, to the dismay of many, there are only five months of the year when you can watch grown men slam each other into meticulously cut grass. 

In college football, the season only lasts about four months, or in other words the fall semester. The question is, what are football players doing with their time during the spring semester, otherwise known as off-season?

“Up until this point, it was lifting and training, getting ready for… the upcoming season,” Jeff Fischer, assistant coach said. “Off-season is a little different nowadays at our level just because we’re allowed to do padded spring ball,” he added

Padded spring ball, Fischer explained, are “practices during the off-season” and unfortunately, have nothing to do with springs or jumping.

“We practice a few times a week right now,” he said.

“I feel like it’s going good, I feel like it’s improved.” Omarjaye Black, a sophomore wide receiver, said. “It’s more organized,” he added, again comparing this semester to last.

Saddleback’s football roster last year included 91 team members, though as Trey Kukuk, a sophomore quarterback, pointed out, “If they’re not good enough they won’t get to see the field.” 

During the season only ten games are normally played, 13 tops, so the off-season is an important time to get the team ready for the next season. If the team slips up for only a few games their overall performance would be dramatically lowered.

Kukuk expressed that the intense buildup is part of the sport’s appeal.

When games begin next season there will be a lot of new faces on the field. Hunter Linam, a freshman offensive lineman, spoke about his first season being a part of the team.

“I joined in week five. I was in the Marine Corps for four years before,” he said. He added that after being a marine he was looking for some “brotherhood” and found it in the connection of the football team. 

Kukuk also spoke about the team dynamics and said that even though everyone is a team it’s not as close-knit as high school football. Kukuk didn’t specify exactly why that’s the case, however, college is just a different environment, so it makes sense that team dynamics are different. A possible explanation could be that the team is large, twice the size of many high school teams. Also of course most college students will take the sport more seriously than a 15-year-old. 

As far as the team’s outlook goes Kukuk said that football is incredibly competitive. Of course, good sportsmanship is valued but on the field, the whole we’re-all-just-here-to-have-fun mentality that our fourth-grade teachers drilled into us is long gone. 

“I feel like it’s gonna be better than what we had before,” Black said, speaking of the season ahead.