This week, I sat down with head football coach Joe Fincham to talk about spring football, recruiting and what to expect from the Tigers in the upcoming season. As I walked into Fincham’s office to do the interview, I couldn’t tell if I was interrupting his lunch or his work. He sat behind his computer observing the next possible Tiger standout’s recruiting tape.
The Tigers will have a few spots to fill next year on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. With heavy production being lost in the secondary and at the two inside linebacker positions, Fincham said:
“We would like to plug the graduation holes with players from within our own program.”
Fincham has no fear of starting a freshman in his program. After being at Wittenberg for 25 years, Fincham said:
“At least one freshman has started every year.”
Though there is something to be said about a player that the program already knows and the player already knows the program that makes the transition easier.
Fincham explained: “You know them and they know you. At the end of the day, you are going to pick the person who gives you the best chance to win.”
The two biggest dates that come in the spring for college football are National Signing Day and the beginning of spring football, when coaches get to observe their players for a few weeks to see the progress they have made in the off-season. Spring ball is where a lot of the heavy-lifting and hard work is put in before the team is released for the summer, before the coaches can come together in August to start to put together their fall depth charts.
Wittenberg is a Division III school where athletic scholarships are not available, unlike at Division I or even Division II or the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NAIA) levels. There seems to be a trickling down impact from the result of National Signing Day.
Fincham exclaime: “You really know where you stand after National Signing Day.”
As he went on to explain, working with 50 prospects in an area recruiting them to come to Wittenberg.
We have since passed National Signing Day and are still awaiting the start of spring football, which is set to begin upon our return from spring break. Fincham seems to strategize this area.
“We’re looking at some of the competitions we will have at some different positions,” he said. “We are looking for players to step up after graduation. Working hard, seeing if our team has made any strides in the off-season in strength and overall conditioning.”
This is where the Wittenberg coaching staff will look for standouts to fill the holes post graduation.
Fincham continued on to say: “I don’t know that we have one area that necessarily stands out among others. I think we lost more players defensively than we did on offense, so there may be more uncertainty, but it was the other way around after last season. We’ve had a productive off-season, and our guys have worked hard. I’m excited to see how far our guys have come.”