The drama surrounding coaching changes on the football staff is a concern, but it's more of the indirect variety. Of more pressing note is the absence of three defensive players, including starting cornerback Brandon Hogan.
While many teams would allow the loss of a key player to affect their preparation, senior defensive back Sidney Glover assures that while the defense will be affected by the loss of Hogan, he doesn't believe that it should be a big issue for the unit.
"It's big," said Glover of his fellow senior's absence. "It may affect a little bit of what we do, but it probably won't. We have to trust in Pat Miller and Brodrick [Jenkins] to get it done. The only difference is that all of Hogan's work and things that he's doing will not be solely on Pat Miller and Brodrick. It's going to be on all of us to step our game up a little bit and help them out. I think not having him present shouldn't make us change up what we do. It just may make everybody step their game up."
Coaches and players alike have raved about the intensity of the team's pre-bowl practices during the week leading up to the December 28 contest. While the defensive coaches and players have had to make minor adjustments in the game plan to account for Hogan's absence, it seems as though the adjustment has been rather easy.
"I think our defensive coaches have really just gone on with their game plan as if Brandon was there," said Glover. "They are leaving it up to us to make sure [Jenkins and Miller] are focused and that we come in and play hard. They both are good players. Me, as a senior, I try to be a leader on this defense so I just talk to them every day and make sure their minds are right and they're working hard."
Hogan's spot on the field will be filled by a redshirt freshman (Jenkins) and a sophomore (Miller). Neither has near the experience of the injured Hogan, but Miller has already seen some playing time this season when he played for a then-suspended Hogan in the Maryland game. Glover seems confident in the underclassmen to come in and fill in for Hogan.
"They're good players so really all that I tell them is just come to work," said Glover. "I think that's the difference between young players and seniors. [Seniors] pay more attention to details in practice and working hard every day in practice."
Despite the numerous potential distractions, the seniors seem to be using the obstacles as inspiration as they prepare to put on their uniforms for the final time.
"This defense has been sticking together as a unit," said Glover. "We're just doing what we have to do no matter what is going on around us. We want to go out there and get a win. For our coaching staff, we want to go out there and get a win. It gives us more of a reason to focus in practice and pay attention to details and make sure we come out of this bowl game with a victory."