FAU's Willie Taggart can't 'grasp' country without football season

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The thought of football not being played in the fall is one that FAU coach Willie Taggart said had never crossed his mind until recently.

Even as the coronavirus outbreak jeopardizes sports seasons around the world, Taggart admitted during a conference call with reporters on Monday that he still struggles to envision what the country would look like without football in the fall.

“I still can’t get a grasp of what this country would look like without football,” Taggart said. “That’s America’s sport. Everybody gets excited when football season comes around. It’s like Christmas. The whole country changes. So it’ll be interesting, but we gotta think about people’s lives and our health because without that, there won’t be any football regardless.

“If we can follow the rules and get this thing past us, it’d be great. We all got to do our part and help get to that point. Hopefully, we do that now so we can have a fall with football and not have to think about those things.”

While not directly mentioning the college football season, ESPN reported over the weekend that President Donald Trump believes the NFL season should start on time and is hoping to have fans in stadiums and arenas by August and September.

FAU is scheduled to begin its season against Minnesota on Sept. 3. Taggart said he hasn’t had discussions about the upcoming season’s schedule being affected by the pandemic.

“We have some months to go before we get to that,” Taggart said. “I’m sure at the end of the day we’re going to do what’s best for humanity and make sure everybody’s okay before we do anything. That’s the most important thing.”

Normally during this time of year, Taggart, entering his first season with the Owls, would be building relationships with his players and beginning evaluations of his team on the field. But the pandemic has shelved spring practices and competitions, creating an obstacle for Taggart and his coaching staff as they try to prepare for their conference title-defending season.

“It’s tough because you don’t get to see your guys actually go out and do the football part of it where you create that evaluation of your team,” Taggart said. “Whenever taking over a program, you really don’t know what you have until you get onto the field, go through the meetings and see how much your guys can retain and actually go out and execute.”

Taggart said the Owls have been using Zoom to install their game plans, with strength and conditioning coach Joey Guarascio giving the players workout routines to stay in the best shape possible.

“Our coaches are in constant communication with our players,” Taggart said. “Every staff meeting, I have our coaches go around the table and make sure my guys fill me in on their position group, any new updates on what’s going on. We try to figure out what’s going on with our players every two days and make sure there are no changes or anything.”

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