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Penn State Football: Pat Freiermuth Finding New Ways to Learn While at Home

by on May 27, 2020 2:20 PM

It comes as no particular surprise that learning a new offense is more difficult when you aren't doing the learning in person. Timing, chemistry and hands-on contact are paramount.

Take those factors out of the equation and you're left without many great options as players try to pick up nuances through film and video chats. 

And that creates some obvious challenges, especially when it comes to different players learning things different ways. So how many different ways can you present the same information?

"We get a lot actually [of different types of learning]" Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth said on Wednesday. "We get tests; we get quizzes every week. We go through it [on film]. Coach wants us to send videos of what we're doing for work and stuff like that so I get it a lot. I think it's good to expand our learning abilities.

"I think obviously watching film of what Minnesota and Western Michigan have done in the past really helps just to kind of see where they were at what they wanted. But there are definitely challenges. If you're a visual learner and you're an in-person learner then there are definitely challenges then, but you just got to kind of make do."

Penn State football certainly isn't the only team on campus to make the most of a multi-pronged approach. Penn State men's basketball tests, teaches, does film sessions and sends information on an app while Penn State men's hockey watches very little film of its opponent aside from special teams, opting instead to focus internally through self-scouting and whiteboard sessions.

If there's a way to learn, chances are a Penn State team is doing it.

In the case of Freiermuth, he's a little bit of everything. Part-time visual learning, part-time hands on. It's moments like this when it pays to have friends who know football, and even better in an era of social distancing when all you need for them to do is stand somewhere on the field.

"I'm a visual learner and I have to do the act of, you know, running a certain route that's new," Freiermuth said. "I've kind of adjusted where I've been taking my notes, and then I'll go out to the field and I'll see my notes and run the route and then my high school friends have actually been huge. They played high school football and helped me out. They've been standing off in coverages and all that kind of stuff just to kind of get the right footwork down for a certain route.

"They've been huge and helpful and it's definitely challenging to not be there in spring ball and stuff but I think I've been able to stay pretty consistent with my work ethic and it's actually kind of helpful. I've been doing two-a-days so it's been really huge taking full advantage of this."

For now, Freiermuth is just waiting for the OK to return to campus, but even then things will almost certainly be different and practices won't quite be the same under preventative COVID-19 guidelines. It'll be a strange world, but football will bring it a small step closer toward normal again.

But for a team that hasn't been in school or on campus in months, the success of the upcoming season will have a lot to do with who did their homework.

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