If this was a normal season, Shippensburg University quarterback Brycen Mussina would only be weeks away from his third season as the Raiders’ signal caller.
Instead, the Montoursville, Pennsylvania, native now finds himself casually throwing to teammates while wearing a mask rather than launching deep balls down the field during a Raiders’ practice.
Mussina is coming off another strong season at the helm of the Raiders’ offense. Despite a 4-7 record, Mussina totaled 2,646 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. While some stats were lower compared to his first season at SU, Mussina showed great composure in the pocket and cut his interception total by 13.
With a lot to prove as a team this year, the Raiders were more than ready for their redemption season. However, with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic surging in March, Mussina and the Raiders lost their spring season.
Without any time to prepare as a team, Mussina knew that the fall season may be a challenge. But with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) suspending all fall sports through Dec. 31, Mussina and the Raiders never got the chance to overcome that challenge.
“We have to trust the people who are in charge and while it’s unfortunate, it is what it is,” Mussina said. “We know it can’t be this way forever, but it just has to be this way for now.”
Throughout the summer, Mussina continued to stay as sharp as possible. While he was unable to see many of his teammates in person, the team held numerous Zoom calls, allowing the players to talk football, catch up on life and discuss the current situations they were facing.
Without many current teammates in his area, Mussina said it gave him the opportunity to workout and throw with high school teammates. However, Mussina said he is grateful to be back on campus working with his fellow Raiders.
“It’s great being back on campus now since so many more guys are available for workouts and you get to meet the new freshmen,” he said. “Before now, everyone was kind of scrambling to find guys to workout with at home and since we’re all back together, it makes it so much easier.”
Even with his third season on hold, Mussina is finding positives out of the state of uncertainty in which he is in currently. He realizes this will give players more time to work on their craft and get stronger. Additionally, players who are on the bubble of a starting position now have more time to take a run at the player who owns the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
In Mussina’s case, he has been working on a handful of mechanics since the end of last season. His two primary areas of improvement are his mobility and footwork. The starting quarterback also wants to improve on his in-game awareness and vocal leadership.
“I’d like to be the most well-rounded quarterback I’m capable of being,” Mussina said in an interview back in June. “Team goals are made possible when personal goals are met. So, I’m ready for whenever we take the field again.”
In the end, Mussina’s main goal is to capitalize on all this extra time. He knows all other teams in the PSAC are in the same boat and are hungrier than ever to get back out on the field.
“We have to use this time wisely and continue to get better,” he said. “While there are a lot of negatives to all of this, it gives our new guys more time instead of one month before the season starts, and everyone else can use this to get bigger and gain more experience. There’s always room for improvement.”
The PSAC is eyeing a return to the field in the spring. All Mussina and the Raiders can do now is wait.