Aug. 7, 2011
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LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell football team's preseason camp is just two days old, but the squad has already faced plenty of adversity. The Bison had to run Saturday night's conditioning workout in the dark due to an unplanned power outage on campus, while minutes into Sunday's first official session a thunderstorm rolled through Central Pennsylvania, forcing the team to the locker room for nearly 30 minutes.
Despite the challenges, second-year Bucknell head coach Joe Susan was pleased with his team's performance on a Sunday that ended up being extremely humid.
Also on Sunday, Susan announced that seniors Josh Eden and Sean Rafferty were elected as co-captains in a team vote. Eden, a defensive lineman who will serve as a captain for a second consecutive year, is a two-time First Team All-Patriot League choice who enters his final campaign with 144 tackles and 13 sacks in his career. Rafferty is a defensive back who was one of six Bison to start all 11 games a year ago. He enters his final season with 73 career tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions, including one that proved to be the game-winning score at Georgetown last October.
"Josh, because of his maturity, had a lot of the support of the guys through the vote," said Susan. "We anticipated that. Sean is a coach's son and brings a lot of football IQ with him. I don't know that he is going to be a vocal leader, he will be more of a leader by what he does and that's the most important thing. Well done is better than well said anyway."
Saturday was check-in day for the Bison, first for the freshman class in the morning, with the veterans arriving in the afternoon. Meetings, medical testing and equipment handout followed with the day concluding with conditioning testing. More meetings took place Sunday morning, followed by the first full practice at 3:45 p.m. During stretching exercises a nearby rumble of thunder was heard and then the lightning detection unit sounded, sending the team to the Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium locker room.
The squad did not wear pads on Sunday and it did a little bit of everything, from individual drills to special teams to position group techniques to 7-on-7 drills. Additionally, Bucknell University President John Bravman addressed the team mid-practice.
As is usually the case during preseason camp, eyes were on the freshman class. Susan was impressed with the 29-person group, although it is still way too early to make final judgment.
"Our freshman class brings to us some much-needed size and some much-needed speed and a lot of uncertainty," commented Susan. "Right now we are running around (in just helmets). We'll see. There are some savvy kids that know the game. It's obvious by the way they react. It'll be interesting to see how they do tomorrow when we go out in helmets and shoulder pads and it gets more live."
Susan often preaches leadership to his team and it was evident on Sunday that the message is getting through. Many upperclassmen were observed tutoring their younger teammates on the nuances of the game and the expectations of the coaching staff.
"Teaching each other is an important step," said Susan. "What it is evidence of is that when they are not in, they are also getting reps and for a lot of guys those hidden reps really become productive, because there are only so many live reps to go around. Being able to coach each other really forces them to learn the game."
Bucknell, which will not have an off day from practice until the first day of classes Aug. 24, will return to Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium for another 3:45 p.m. practice on Monday. The team will don shoulder pads for the first time as the Bison continue preparations for the Sept. 3 season opener against Duquesne.