The team gathered out into the middle of the field anticipating the day's instruction from Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall when they received the word.
"We just thought we were going to have another nice long day of practice in the heat," said R.J. Willing with a slight smile on his face. "We all thought we had messed up on the PAT field goals. Coach Mendenhall brought us all in and said, ‘I need to talk to you guys.' He said, ‘We need to get our minds right and so I just wanted to apologize.'"
"Coach Mendenhall gathered us all together and apologized to us," said an excited Chris Bolden. "He said there was a mistake in the itinerary today.
Coach Mendenhall told his team that there was going to be a change in today's practice session.
"He said the itinerary was wrong," said an excited Willing. "He said we will be meeting for a movie in the team room at 10:30."
"Coach Mendenhall said we're going to watch a movie this morning," chuckled Bolden. "I'm just really trying to find out what's going on. I mean, I was just getting ready to practice and wasn't thinking about anything else going on. Getting through practice and making plays is all I was thinking about today."
"You know, this is how Coach Mendenhall rolls," chuckled Criddle. " That's all I gotta say. That's how he rolls."
Soon the group rapidly dispersed yelling and cheering in a great chorus of joy as players began running off the field. Some athletes even did rolls and flips while others jumped and gave each other high fives as they ran and hollered off the field.
"That's why everyone just started running around and cheering," Willing said. "Today is a good day."
"Oh yeah, I think some guys are really happy thinking they got a little break," Bolden said. "I can understand because we've worked really hard. We work really hard every day and with us having this same mentality during two-a-days has been very hard and a tough camp for us. The Coaches have asked more from us and a lot of guys have pushed themselves beyond anything they've done before, so it's nice to have this little break."
So do they know what movie they will be watching?
"I have no idea," chuckled Bolden. "I wasn't even expecting this and I have no clue. This is kind of far out there and I have no clue and don't know what to expect."
"I don't know what movie is where going to be watching," smiled Bryan Kehl. "Maybe something great, maybe [the movie] 300. It's nice but I don't mind competing and I enjoy practice.
"I look forward to it everyday and so this is a win, win for me because obviously you're body is tired coming in from camp day after day. So we could use the rest and so that part is good. At the same time I have my competitive nature, I dropped an interception yesterday, and so I wanted to come in and make that up today. I guess I'll have to make that up tomorrow.""
For Senior outside linebacker Bryan Kehl, today's situation is a win, win opportunity for him. The one aspect about not actually practicing after suiting up for this Cougar defender is now unwrapping all the tape from off his ankles.
"The thing is, I hate getting my ankles taped up," chuckled Kehl. "You can ask any of the trainers. I hate that and they know it so if I'm getting my ankles taped up I want to use that.
"Last year when we went and floated the river, I left the tape on there because I figured if I'm putting it on there I'm not taking it off after five minutes. I just don't like it. No, this is good because Coach Mendenhall recognizes that we have a lot guys whose legs are sore. We have guys that need this and so he gives it."
Cornerback Ben Criddle echoed Kehl's comments.
"One day we might be performing fantastic and then the next day we might be performing a little sluggish because of injury," said Criddle. "You know, he understands that. He's a practice person but he's also a smart person."
Coach Mendenhall has squeezed out every ounce of effort and sacrifice from a team looking to improve upon their last year's performance. The players have responded and Mendenhall may recognize how the team may need a little reward for their efforts.
"What you'll hear from Coach Mendenhall is how our team sets itself apart from other programs is our intensity during practice and our efficiency," said Criddle. "We just go as hard as we can for those 16 to 18 periods, and with that level of intensity a lot of other teams are taking breaks during practice witch means they may be a little longer. However, because of our intensity it wears down on us.
"These kinds of things are few and far between. I do believe that you have to push your body, much like Coach Mendenhall does, because it pushes your body past that homeostasis point that allows you to get bigger stronger and faster. You also get a mental edge as well because you know during the game when the fourth quarter comes around, you just have to push by the fatigue and tiredness in order to perform to make plays."