It’s not every day or even every year that a team is forced to hold practice in the middle of a solar eclipse, something the UAlbany Great Danes almost did Monday.
“I could just see them all staring at it and someone going blind,” UAlbany head football coach Greg Gattuso said.
Monday’s original practice schedule had the Great Danes hitting the field in the middle of the spectacle seen around the U.S. at 2:45 p.m.
“That’s why we’re a little late today,” the coach said. “We kept them inside; we didn’t want to take any chances.”
The area is seven years away from its next partial eclipse, but UAlbany’s season-opener at Old Dominion (ODU) is less than two weeks away.
Aug. 17 was Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback (QB) Will Brunson’s twenty-first birthday, and it was also the day that he was named the starting QB for the upcoming season.
“He’s the starting QB, and he needs to play to that level, and if he does that, he’s got the job, but he needs to perform in game situations, and we have high expectations he can do that,” Gattuso said.
“It was good; it was kind of a wakeup call, you got to keep working hard every day and get this game plan ready for ODU,” Brunson said.
Brunson has been taking first-team reps during training camp and will start over Junior QB Neven Sussman, who will still see playing time.
“He’s [Brunson] in control, he understands what we want, like I’ve been saying, I think they both have ability and they’ll both play in the first game,” Gattuso said.
“I’m just rolling with it, he had a hell of a camp, we both competed and got better for it,” Sussman said.
The Sandy Spring, Maryland native is more than just an “in case of emergency player;” as the Danes’ coaching staff plans on keeping him in their play plan.
“We have a specific package for Neven that we think he’s very good at and he does well,” Gattuso said.
“It’s a lot of different things, it really caters to what I do well, and I’m excited for that,” Sussman said.
Brunson and Sussman have different personalities and different skill sets, and after competing all summer for the starting job, they’re still best friends.
“People don’t really understand why or how me and Neven are so close and I struggle to explain it sometimes but we are best friends and we maturely understand how to take this process and make each other better,” Brunson went on to say.
“I don’t understand how it works but it works, and it’s healthy and it’s productive, and I’m thankful for it,” Sussman said.
The two UAlbany QB’s believe that their relationship despite being different is good for them and the rest of the team.
“It sets and example, it shows that we’re brothers first and the ‘Purple Family’ is a real thing and if we do it the right way it will help us move forward together,” said Sussman.
Both QB’s hope to lead a balanced attack next Saturday against Old Dominion, Brunson said: “We’re ready to get after it, it’s awesome, we’re going to head down to Virginia Beach and have us a good time and try and win us a football game.”
The Great Danes won’t have to worry about one celestial body passing over another for the rest of the season.