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Penn State Football: Learning How To Practice No Small Thing For Young Team

by on September 26, 2019 3:50 PM

The change from high school football to the collegiate level isn't easy. Forget about the classes and the new home and the friends. Football is suddenly different, sure you've played it your entire life, but now practices are longer and more intense. This isn't simple stuff anymore and you aren't the best athlete on the field every day.

So it takes time to adjust, and maybe you figure it out in the summer, but then school rolls around and you've got 100 more things to deal with in your life than just getting the playbook down and your apartment cleaned.

"Practice is kind of different," junior corner Tariq Castro-Fields said earlier in the week, reflecting back. "In high school, you kind of just do whatever, but here, every minute is kind of structured and you're always running around. So you kind of get tired from running from the offensive field to the defensive field, and so you really have to learn how to practice and once you learn how to practice you can become way more consistent."

And it's that word, consistency, that Penn State is chasing with a young team right now. It's not talent or skill, it's just doing the right thing nine times out of 10, no matter who is across the field.

Anyone who spends time around football knows that those habits are built in practice, and perfected in the film room so they can be showcased during a game. You do, in fact, practice how you want to perform.

First you've got to get good at practicing.

"I would say doing all the little things correctly," Castro-Field added. "Not overlooking any small detail, whether that be scoop and scoring, running to the ball. Just always giving 100 percent. I think once you do those things, being consistent actually just comes with that. It's something that you have to go through. Obviously I'm there, we're over here for daily skill or we're over here for team one, but it's just something that you have to get used to."

Penn State's biggest challenge right now: maturing a young team fast enough for the biggest games on its schedule, one might argue that begins on Friday night in College Park.

But how do you do that? Can you rush a process that takes time?

Not entirely, but you can help move it along.

"Honestly, that's about having good leadership," linebacker Cam Brown said this week. "Like the leaders have to show the young guys what to do and how to do it and that's how they follow suit. That's how I learned how to practice here.

"That's how I learned how to lift. Everything that goes on in the program you pretty much have to sit back and watch. So your freshman year, you don't say or do too much, but when you sit back and you watch, you learn, if you're that type of guy, you learn how to practice and to be a complete player."



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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