The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team during the 2020 season. Today is question No. 6: How will COVID-19 and the lack of an offseason impact the Broncos?
It’s been an offseason like no other for the Boise State football team since losing to Washington in the 2020 Las Vegas Bowl last December.
The Broncos got just three spring practices in before the COVID-19 pandemic brought things to a halt, and players and coaches spent much of the spring and summer at home and away from each other. Workouts were done individually away from the facility, and meetings were conducted virtually on Zoom.
It wasn’t until June 1 that players were able to start returning to the workout facility for voluntary workouts, but those were altered to be in smaller groups to honor social distancing guidelines. On July 13 the Broncos were able to start eight required hours of training per week due to NCAA rules, most of which were strength training and conditioning. Two of the eight hours could be mandatory film study.
Things ramped up a little bit for the Broncos last Friday when they were able to, per NCAA rules, move into a required 20-hour week for the next two weeks leading into the August 7 start of fall camp. The current 20-hour week allows teams to require activities including meetings, conditioning and strength workouts and walk-throughs with a football (basically practices with no pads or helmets). They’ve been compared to the NFL’s ‘summer OTA’ program.
The goal of these two weeks the Broncos are currently in are to help ease teams back into action before fall camp starts given the lack of workouts this summer, but also to help coaches make up for some of the lost practice time in spring by allowing for non-padded walk-through practices to help with the installation of plays, schemes, etc.
Boise State had to stop voluntary workouts for almost two weeks in late June and early July due to an outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests on campus, but those were mostly not student-athletes or members of the athletic department. In the last update provided by the Broncos, they had just four positive tests among 230-250 student-athletes, coaches and staff that were tested.
So what does this all mean? As of now, it means the Broncos are roughly 10 days from the start of fall camp on August 7, with the season opener against Georgia Southern set for Sept. 5 inside a probably empty Albertsons Stadium. Will we actually get to that point? Who knows.
But as of now none of Boise State’s games have been canceled and practices are still scheduled to start on August 7, so it’s all systems go — at this point — for the Broncos’ 2020 season.
What the season actually looks like is a different question. Even if the Broncos are able to play some games, maybe a conference-only season like some leagues are doing, the quality of football could be different. With no spring practices or summer workouts, will things be more sloppy? Will coaches have to dumb-down the playbook or schemes due to the lack of time to install things during the offseason?
Injuries are a concern also. With a lack of workouts and a typical offseason, the possibility of an increased number of injuries would seemingly be high.
And even if there is a game, there will be a limited number of fans in the stands — if they are allowed in at all.
It will be a season unlike any other in college football if they are able to somehow pull it off. And while it may still seem like a longshot and things change daily, to this point we’ve still got a Boise State football season to talk about. And that’s good news. At least for today.