Practice Days Busy For Equipment People

As Head Football Equipment Manager, Trent Chesnut has major responsibilities all year long. But he never works harder or faster than on practice days. He and his staff have to set up everything the coaches need for practice beforehand and tear it down afterward. They are also involved in practice charting and videotaping.

The Illinois football coaching staff knows what it needs to teach players during every practice. It is the job of Trent Chesnut and his staff to make sure all ancillary equipment is on the field and in the proper arrangement for each drill. On practice days, there is a beehive of activity.

"We have a staff meeting at 8 o'clock every morning, and we go over the practice plan. We'll have a cover sheet, offense, defense, what's gonna go on in individual periods, team periods, all that stuff."

Everything is set up before the players take the field.

"Prepractice, the kids set up the field with sideline markers, endzone pads, everything you can think of. And then they look at their individual sheet."

Practices are broken down into individual periods and team periods.

"On the individual period breakdown, it may be a half hour. With the old staff, they knew exactly what each drill was and whether they need sleds, popups, cones, dots or whatever.

"For individual, we'll discuss with the coaches if they need something that's out of the ordinary. I have mostly a new coaching staff now. I know pretty much what they want through talking to them."

Each coach has his own requirements.

"Everybody has their own practice plan, and they see what they need for that individual period to make sure everything is in their area. Every position coach has a different area. We have two main fields and then two baby fields."

Managers have to treat team periods the same as they would games.

"Once they get through with individual, then everything pretty much is team stuff. We have kids spotting the ball, moving the ball from hash to hash. We have kids that run the chains, offense and defense.

"Offense is going against defensive scouts, and defense is going against offensive scouts. You've got two fields going at the same time."

Records are kept of everything that happens on every play. These will combine with video to give the coaching staff an accurate understanding of how things went during practice.

"We have kids that do charting. Plays are scripted out, telling you the plays, the coverage. If there are any changes, say the defensive coach calls a personnel change or coverage change, they mark it on the script. And then they go back in after practice and make the change on the computer.

"Coach (Paul) Petrino tells us what the kids do on computer is amazing. He's never had that done before. Our kids will go in before practice, input all the plays and stuff that's gonna run in our practice.

"And then during the practice they're charting any changes, any notes they make. After practice they are back at the same computer and log in what happened on that play. The login, the comments, any changes in coverage, completed pass, whatever."

Computerization of the practice takes place fast as the coaches need to study the charts after dinner.

"After practice, the coaches go to the Varsity Room to eat. When they come back, everything from the practice is already on the computer in their office, it's on the computer in the meeting room."

The computerized charts have to match the videotape taken during practice.

"Video is not my area, but the managers that work with charting work with Greg (Brunner) and Tony (Buyniski) on that stuff every day. Everything's got to jive. If you've got 90 plays a team, you have 90 plays on the film and 90 things on the computer."

In the final segment of this 8-part interview, Chesnut talks about some of the unusual things he's had to do in his job and the memories he's had supporting the Fighting Illini football team.

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