TAMPA – Learning even the basics of an NFL offense via skype cannot be easy, but that’s what Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey is going to have to try to do between now and June.
The reason: McCaffrey is still attending classes at Stanford, which is one of several West Coast schools that runs its class schedule on what is known as a “quarters system.’’
The real problem is that NCAA rules require that all NFL rookies coming from schools operating on a quarters system to stay in school until the quarter has been completed.
That’s June 9 for Stanford, so in an effort to learn as much about the offense as he can between now and the time he can re-join the Panthers, McCaffrey intends to watch offensive installation sessions via skype.
It’s a pretty smart way to get around yet another NCAA rule that probably needs to be tweaked, but the Buccaneers will have no such issues with any of their drafted rookies.
Neither Boise State, where fifth-round running back Jeremy McNichols played; nor USC, where seventh-round defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu played; operates on a quarters system.
That means both players will have a chance to learn their new schemes first hand over the course of the offseason, which should flatten the learning curve immensely for both.
Now, McNichols will still miss time on the field because he is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, but Tu’ikolovatu is ready to go and for him, the learning process could go quickly.
Tu’ikolovatu revealed after Day 2 of the Bucs rookie minicamp last weekend that a lot of what the Bucs do defensively is similar to what he did in college, both at Utah and USC.
“Everything we’ve learned so far here is kind of a mixture (of what we did) at Utah and USC,’’ said Tu’kolovatu, who played two years at Utah before transferring to USC for the 2016 season.
“The fronts that we’re playing are similar to Utah’s and all the terminology – every word here that we use – are the same ones that USC uses so that’s a huge help for me.’’
It should be a huge help for the Bucs, too. The sooner a player learns a new scheme the sooner he stops thinking, which always slows players down, and starts playing naturally and with speed.
The fact McNichols and Tu’ikolovatu will both be around for the entire offseason program should only make their transition faster easier, which means both should be able to hit the ground running once training camp begins.