ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Schools out for summer at Dove Valley.
For all practical purposes, OTAs and mandatory mini camp might as well have been school for the players as the majority of the focus during the offseason was spent installing, i.e. learning, the new offense and defense.
As the double horns echoed on Thursday’s walk-through practice—signaling the day’s end—Vance Joseph gathered his team around him for one final time before they departed on their five-week summer vacation. Much like teachers would part words of wisdom or inspiration on their students on the last day of school; Joseph had a few select words for his players, except his words were more of a plea.
“Just be smart,” he said.
For a head coach, summer break can be nerve wrecking, 90-plus players departing on their own adventures around the world, leaving way for life changing experiences—both potentially good and bad. Whether their travels take them to Colorado’s mountains or South Africa, Joseph urged his players to make good decisions.
“Be really socially conscious about their surroundings and their behavior…Any conflict, walk away,” he said his message was to the players. “Use Uber or Lyft, their choice (laughing). Don’t drink and drive. That’s the message.”
As for the football side of the break, Joseph emphasized that it is a break, meaning take time away from football. However, he wants the players to come back with the same football IQ that they are leaving with on the final day of mini camp.
“As they head out, the football message was the things that were learned as far as the scheme on both sides of the ball, let’s not lose that,” he said on Thursday. “Let’s come back and start from this point, not go backward.”
For the coaches who routinely clock more time in the office than out during a week, the message was something that they rarely hear from a head coach — get away from football.
“We have five weeks off. The same as the players and coaches. It’s a long season,” Joseph said. “You have to go back and refresh your mind—reboot your mind—and come back and go to training camp.”
Even the head coach himself needs some R&R after his first six months on the job.
“Myself, I’m going to be here for another week and a half, then I’m going to Florida and just put my feet up for a while,” he said. “I’ll spend time with the family. Again, refresh the mind. It’s been a long four or five months here. That’s the plan.”
Once the players are back in late July, however, it’s all football, all the time.