Delaware football kicks off spring training after bounce back season
Football is in the air once again at the university.
The Blue Hens took part in their first of 15 practice sessions over the next month this past Tuesday afternoon. The practice field was immersed in a cacophony of whistles, motivational cheers and friendly banter underscored by a shared sense of optimism.
They are coming off a bounce back season, having returned to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2010, where they ultimately fell to James Madison in the first round.
The team comes into this season with high expectations and many questions to answer. One of which being how they intend to cope with the loss of valuable experience with the departure of nearly 30 seniors — almost a third of the team — from last year.
“A big emphasis in this offseason so far is just developing our young talent and just encouraging guys to step up,” incumbent quarterback Pat Kehoe said. “We’ve got guys that need to fill leadership roles, and I believe our young guys have done a good job so far and I’m looking forward to them carrying it over into spring practices.”
Kehoe, a captain as a junior in 2018, will be looked at to take charge during this transition period. He threw for 2075 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, but struggled down the stretch in Delaware’s final four games, completing less than 50 percent of his passes.
In addition to new faces in pads, Delaware has a new offensive coordinator in Jared Ambrose, who will bring new wrinkles to the Blue Hens’ game plan.
“I want to improve on my ball security and I want to be more efficient in the passing game,” Kehoe said. “But before that happens I just need to grow comfortable in our new offensive system and establish a relationship with my new OC [offensive coordinator].”
Head Coach Danny Rocco recognizes the challenges facing his team coming into this year, and believes spring training is invaluable to addressing them.
“It’s part of the process, we do a lot in the winter with strength and conditioning… things like that, that are specific to development,” Rocco said. “But when it comes to playing football, there is nothing like coming out and playing football… you can only play this sport when you’re in a cycle, so these 15 days are really important.”
Delaware also welcomes the addition of defensive coach Dave Legg. Over the course of career in college football, Legg’s exploits have spanned 32 years across six different universities. His most recent assignment before joining the Blue Hens was with Richmond where he spent 12 years as recruitment coordinator among other duties. He overlapped with Rocco for five seasons at Richmond.
“My focus is really getting to know our student athletes and build those relationships so we can get better as a program,” Legg said. “Being here only a few weeks, it’s critical for me as a new coach to the program to really build the relationships that are critical to our success as a program.”
“Our expectations are the same every year and that’s tp compete every time we step on the field,” Legg said. “The CAA is one of the best leagues in the country so we have to be able to strap up and compete every time we cross the lines.”
Delaware’s spring practices culminate in the annual Blue-White scrimmage game at Delaware Stadium on April 20.