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So much for the Lovie Smith philosophy about matching practice times with game times.

Rather than conditioning his team to the midday heat for early season home games, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter is changing course. Tuesday’s first voluntary organized team activity session at One Buc Place began at 10:30 a.m. and morning start times will be the norm moving forward.

“We did a little study and in August when we’re out here it’s on average 11 degrees cooler at 8:45 [a.m.] than it is at 2:45 [p.m.],” Koetter said from the practice field, taking a moment to joke around with the situation as well. “So I did quick Idaho State math and I subtracted that out and said, ‘Geez, 11 degrees cooler, why don’t we practice in the morning?’

Temperatures at the start of Tuesday’s practice were already in the high-70s and climbed to the mid-80s by the time the final huddle broke around 12:30 p.m.

It didn’t take a brain surgeon. The last 10 years I’ve been coaching in the south, I really do believe there’s a cumulative effect over the course of a season from August until the end of the year when you’re out here – even if it’s for a walk-through at 12, 1, 2 and it’s 95 degrees and the sun’s beating on you. I just think there’s a cumulative effect. We’re going to do everything we can to try to chip away at that. There are some things you can’t get away from, but we’re going to do what we can.”

In terms of the former regime’s viewpoint that there’s an advantage to getting used to playing in the midday heat, Koetter believes his team’s saved-up energy holds more value.

“I think there might be something to that but I think you also have to pick your poison,” Koetter said. “I think everybody that says that probably doesn’t live in Tampa, Florida.”

When asked how long morning practice sessions will continue, Koetter said all the way up until the fourth and final preseason game.

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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