Starting his eighth season, head coach Dave Doeren has six weeks to juggle workouts with an abundance of caution.
"Traditionally we'd have had them here working out for a long time, and we'd know exactly where they're at conditioning-wise, so with six weeks to prepare them, we're spacing our workout and not doing as much," Doeren said.
To keep the season alive, the ACC scrapped divisions. State will face Duke, Wake Forest and UNC all in the same season. When any of that will happen is another question.
"I would love to know who we play, but we don't," Doeren said. "There's nothing I can do about it. When they tell me, we'll get our game plan going and start working on that."
Redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Moore said the team's No. 1 goal remains reaching the ACC Championship no matter who's on the schedule or when.
Doeren on the uncertainty of really.. anything as they start camp with no opening date. "This has got to be a day by day thing for us right now." He told his team anyone on the roster could play/start— Joe Mazur (@joemazurabc11) August 4, 2020
"Whatever format they throw at us, whether it's Clemson or playing 10 games, playing five games or playing one game, we know what we got to do to get there," Moore said.
Devin Leary is one of 51 freshmen to play last year. The sophomore quarterback is running with the first team for now, although Doeren said every roster spot is up for grabs.
Armstrong: Pure and simple, this could be a fun ACC football season
"Getting those in game repetitions just helped me get more comfortable in the game," Leary said. "Get more comfortable with the pace of the game as well. Being able to take everything I learned on and off the field and just enhance my game even more for this upcoming season."
None of the players has opted out to this point. Doeren expects COVID-19 to present some unusual circumstances that must be navigated.
"You don't know when you're going to have that contact-tracing thing wipe out a position and all of the sudden your fifth guy is your first guy," Doeren said. "Every guy in the room had big eyes when I said that and it's real."