Lafayette football coach Frank Tavani and offensive line coach Stan Clayton were visiting the New York Jets at one of their OTA practices earlier this year. Tavani was talking with Jets owner Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson when all of a sudden Johnson dropped to the turf and began doing pushups.
Tavani said he was baffled, but as he looked around, everyone was down doing pushups. Everyone, that is, except Tavani and Clayton.
When Johnson got up, he explained the drill to Tavani.
The pushups-for-penalties was introduced by Jets coach Rex Ryan last fall. An Internet search found that the whole thing started after the Jets committed 20 penalties — twenty — in a loss to the Buffalo Bills last season. The idea is that while one person is guilty of the penalty, everyone shares in the punishment.
Tavani loved the idea, and he admitted he was not ashamed to "borrow" it for his Leopards. So, in this year's preseason camp, Lafayette had its own pushups-for-penalties program.
This reporter showed up for a practice during the first week, and Coach Tavani said maybe standing on the Fisher Stadium FieldTurf surface when the Leopards got into team practice periods wasn't a good idea. Then he said why.
The pushups are not for players only. Coaches, managers, trainers, equipment people — anybody on the turf at the time a penalty is committed — was subject to the 10-pushup penalty for the penalty.
Sure enough, one of the big Lafayette linemen got a bit anxious. Penalty! Everyone, including this reporter, dropped down to do 10. A little while later, another penalty and another 10.
The pushups rules was waived for the Leopards' scrimmage on Media Day back on Aug. 20. Good thing, too, because there were five pre-snap penalties and a couple of holding calls that would have taken the focus off the scrimmage on put it on the pushups, which Tavani wanted to avoid.
"Actually, it's been pretty good [lately], knock on wood," Tavani said Tuesday.
CLEANING THE NOTEBOOK AND THE RECORDER
SACRED HEART COACH NOFRI SPEAKS — ABOUT THE OPENER: "We were a little sloppy in the first half," SHU coach Mark Tofri said of the Pioneers' 28-7 win over Marist last Saturday. "Obviously, the first game you're going to have things you need to iron out, and we have to cut down on the mistakes and penalties. We had four turnovers in the game, which is not like us. Last year we were plus-21 in the turnover over battle; so far this year, we're minus-2."
ABOUT HAVING ALREADY PLAYED A GAME: "It might be [and advantage]. I like playing a game first if I'm going against a team that hasn't played. But last year, they opened with us as well and came out and returned the kickoff for a touchdown. People say you make a lot of progress between your first and second game and I hope that's the issue with my team, that we get a little better this week."
ABOUT LAFAYETTE: "It's going to be a big challenge, a step up to play against a team like that. I'm expecting to see them come in here ready to play and our guys better be ready for a physical game because I know they are."
ABOUT RUNNING BACK KESHAUDUS SPENCE: "Keshaudua played running back for us last year at 252 pounds and he's actually down to 240 this year. He's a horse for us. He's the guy we rely on. We're gonna give him the ball 20 times a game, if not more. When we need tough yards, we know we can go to him."
LAFAYETTE WIDE RECEIVER JUSTIN ADAMS SPEAKS — ON WHO WILL BE THE 2014 GO-TO RECEIVER: "Personally, I'd like to fill that role and be our go-to guy for the entire season. As a senior, I feel that's my responsibility, to take charge and assert my leadership and make plays this team needs to be successful. By the same token, several others are ready to step up. Tim Vangelas has had incredible preseason, as has Demetrius Dixon. I can see a couple freshmen rotating in as well."
ON CONFIDENCE GAINED FROM LEHIGH GAME OF 2013: "Absolutely, that was my first opportunity to shine. Mark Ross was being doubled up; they game-planned against him and that opened up opportunities for me. It helped my confidence, helped me realize I can be a big-time receiver at this level."
COACH TAVANI SPEAKS — ON KICKING GAME: "We have some challenges with [Ryan] Gralish out for four games. We've had real pleasure in freshman late recruit, Thomas Martin. He will handle kickoffs. Ryan Forrester will handle PATs and shorter field goals, Martin the longer ones. It's about as good as you can ask for under the circumstances."
ON NOT HAVING A GAME LAST WEEK: "It's not a factor in preparation. If I had my choice, I'd rather have a game under my belt, obviously. They had some game tempo and got some of that initial adrenaline rush that comes with the first game. It probably happens every game, but moreso that first game; you're almost out of breath immediately until you settle down and realize you're playing a game now and not looking at your own guys. I think the advantage always goes to somebody that has a game under their belt."
ON THE NUMBERS GAME: "We went through days in preseason with 23-24 guys in the training room. You're out there, and guys who were thinking they were on the third team were getting first-team reps. The idea is the next man in concept came into play all of preseason because there were a lot of guys missing. The numbers situation is a real concern because it really impedes you're ability of what you can do in practice and preparation."
Former Morning Call sports editor Paul Reinhard is a freelance writer.