Eastern football team getting back into gear

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern football team is officially back on the field in 2020. Of course there are no games happening this fall, but the team will occupy the practice field to begin preparation for the season, whenever it may begin.

Head coach Adam Cushing said he actually views the lack of games as a potential positive for the Panthers.

“One of out focuses right now is getting a full strength cycle in that we normally wouldn’t get, and I believe this, and it’s maybe just because I look at the world through rose colored glasses a lot of the time and I’m the eternal optimist, but I believe benefits from the season being postponed more than the EIU Panthers because we’re so young,” he said.

“I did not want the season postponed. I wanted to play football this fall. But all that being said, I’ve decided to change my mindset completely and say, ‘Well great. What does this make possible? We can make these young O lineman and D lineman strong.’”

Cushing mentioned the youth of the team, and part of the process this fall will be integrating a large freshman class into the program. He said that he was pleased with their performance so far.

“We’ve got a really talented group there, and I’ve seen a number of guys do a great job,” Cushing said. “With every freshman class, I don’t care if you’ve got the No. 1 rated class or the 130th rated class in the country, you’re going to have that Bell curve of guys that are ready, just absolutely standing out. And I think the good part is when you look at our Bell curve, the middle part is further forward than we were last year.”

He said he attributes this improvement to the extended amount of time he and his staff have had with this incoming class compared to last season, which was Cushing’s first season. But he also said he expects the transition to college football to be a learning experience for some.

“You’re still going to have a few guys here or there that don’t understand Division I football and the pace of a practice, and I think that’s the biggest adjustment,” Cushing said.

In addition to the return to practice, it was announced Aug. 31 that Cushing became a member of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee. He is the only coach on the committee, which deals with a number of aspects of football in both the FCS and FBS.

“It means a ton to me (to be on the committee),” Cushing said. “When the opportunity to just even apply and be nominated for it was brought across my plate, it was an opportunity to serve more than just the players here at Eastern.”

Cushing’s term on the committee lasts for four years, ending June 30, 2024.

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]