His program’s ambitious fall schedule, including two of its highest-profile non-conference games in recent memory, was officially unveiled Wednesday morning, but UAlbany football head coach Greg Gattuso was relatively unconcerned with it.
After all, why be concerned about the fall season right now when there’s a whole spring season staring the Great Danes in the face?
“Right now,” Gattuso said during a teleconference with reporters, “I’m trying to figure out how to have summer camp in February in Albany. That’s been occupying my mind, 100%.”
He added: “We’re not real worried about fall 2021. We’ll start planning for that when the time comes.”
Gattuso spoke Wednesday as the Great Danes prepared for the team’s first time in full pads since its Dec. 7, 2019 second-round FCS playoff loss to Montana State. UAlbany initially planned to practice in full pads Tuesday, but that workout was postponed when snow couldn’t be cleared from the field in time for practice.
Dealing with the wintry elements will be a challenge during preseason camp — which normally takes place during the sweltering days of late summer — as UAlbany prepares to open its six-game spring season March 5 at New Hampshire.
However, it’s a challenge the Great Danes appear to be embracing wholeheartedly.
“It’s definitely been a change,” senior defensive back Tyler Carswell said. “But the biggest thing we’ve been stressing is getting comfortable being uncomfortable. The weather really shouldn’t bother what we’re going to do.”
“The weather’s just another factor,” redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tyler Oedekoven said, “and we don’t really factor it in. We’re just going to play our football, work our butt off. The weather doesn’t really impact us as much as who’s playing and how we’re playing.”
Having waited 14 months since their last game, the Great Danes are taking even the little signs that football is returning as a gift.
“The other day, when we saw shoulder pads in the locker room, it felt like Christmas morning,” Carswell said.
UAlbany’s fall 2021 schedule does include a pair of difficult early-season road games. The Great Danes will open the season Sept. 4 at North Dakota State — winner of eight of the last nine FCS national championships, including the last three — and head to the Carrier Dome two weeks later to face Syracuse on Sept. 18, with the home and league opener against Rhode Island sandwiched in between.
Officials in the UAlbany athletic department confirmed Wednesday that the Great Danes will receive a $250,000 guarantee for the North Dakota State game and a $360,000 guarantee for the Syracuse contest.
“We don’t have an easy schedule,” Gattuso said. “I would expect it to be one of the top schedules in the country in FCS. . . . That’s a challenge, but we’re really trying to go day-by-day. We’re focused on ourselves right now, it stays that way. We know our opener is a critical moment for us. If we’re going to compete for a playoff spot, we need to win that opening game.”
UALBANY FALL 2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Sept. 4 — at North Dakota State
Sept. 11 — vs. Rhode Island*
Sept. 18 — at Syracuse
Oct. 2 — at Delaware*
Oct. 9 — at William & Mary*
Oct. 16 — vs. Villanova*
Oct. 23 — vs. Maine*
Oct. 30 — at Towson*
Nov. 6 — vs. New Hampshire*
Nov. 13 — vs. Morgan State
Nov. 20 — at Stony Brook*
* — CAA game