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Penn State Football: For Bowen and Company, It's One Day at a Time

by on April 01, 2020 12:20 PM

For the past few days Penn State has made a handful coaches available via video chat in the absence of in-person interviews.

Head coach James Franklin kicked things off, followed by defensive coordinator Brent Pry and tight ends coach Tyler Bowen on Wednesday. Athletic Director Sandy Barbour will close out the week on Thursday with a media session of her own (as well as a cameo by men's hockey coach Guy Gadowsky earlier in the day.)

So far, all three coaches have been asked a lot about football. It makes sense — football is their job after all, and like the rest of us, they don't have any idea when life might be normal again.

It does feel like an exercise in futility asking Pry about linebacker Micah Parsons or Bowen about tight end Pat Freiermuth though. Not in the sense that these players aren't important, but simply because of the elephant in the room: college football might not be back this year.

And everything goes through that lens first.

"I'll look at it one way," Bowen said when asked about balancing the job and that elephant. "Task at hand and singleness of purpose. Every day I've got tasks to accomplish... at some point we're going to be back with our players. I plan on at some point, from a football standpoint, that we're going to play games this season, that we're going to open up and play."

Certainly Bowen's optimism isn't unfounded. There is a lot of time between April 1 and the start of August when most teams begin practice. Of course, given the current arc of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the potential for a winter resurgence coupled with a curve of new cases not yet blunted, there are many things that have to happen for football to even begin to return.

Ultimately though for the coaches across America, they can only deal with what is in front of them, and some small peace of mind that everyone is going through the same set of challenges.

"My goal is that there is no excuse in our room," Bowen added. "There's no reason for any type of drop off in performance. We're all dealt the same deck of cards and ultimately it's going to come down when we do play football again whenever that is up. You know I read every article there is every day about it.

"Obviously it's something on our mind. At the same time [football is] not that important in the grand scheme of things, but that is our job and that is ultimately why our players are here, not only to get education but to play football. So I've just tried to challenge our position room. I know we've challenged our staff just to focus every day...ultimately it's going to be on who best utilizes this time and prepares [and who] maximizes this time. That's kind of how we've looked at it and how we have challenged our players to look at it."

For every team the challenge will be knocking off the rust. Franklin, Pry and Bowen have all echoed the same challenge in that regard: you can workout on your own, runs routes in your backyard on your own, but nothing beats game speed. Nothing beats working on your timing together.

When that day comes is as much an unknown today as it was yesterday, but in the meanwhile Bowen, his players and his colleagues will take it a day at a time, theoretically a day closer to the one that feels like normal again.

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