WKU opens fall camp

6 08 2011

Western Kentucky’s 2011 journey began this morning at Houchens-Smith Stadium – and as per usual – coach Willie Taggart had a few wrinkles up his sleeve.

Taggart dressed himself and his coaching staff in ‘blue collared’ work shirts Saturday as WKU opened its 2011 fall camp, bringing a visual to the second-year coach’s new message of ‘getting back to basics.’

“The guys understand about what we’re going to be about,” Taggart said afterward. “WKU’s always been blue-collar, that’s what we’re going to be about around here. We always worked for what we got.

“We all have somebody in our family that worked really hard to help us get to where we’re at – that’s blue-collar. We’re getting back to being that around here. … Getting back to that is a perfect fit for us.”

Taggart split the team into two groups for the first day of camp, and will continue to do so over the next three.

All the true freshmen and a handful of squad members from last season practiced alone with the coaching staff for roughly two and a half hours before the veterans took the field for the final two hours of practice alone.

Taggart said prior to camp that he hoped the new philosophy would give more individual time to the younger players, and allow the older players to practice more fluidly, and so far – he says it appears to be working.

“That went well,” he said. “It gave us coaches a chance to really evaluate those guys and really coach them up. We’ve got some nice freshmen and they look really good. They picked up on everything really quick.

“We’ll go evaluate this film, and hey, maybe a guy moves up to the ‘varsity’ level and maybe a guy drops back to the freshmen level. But overall it went well.”

The team was forced to go inside midway through practice due to lightning, but Taggart said the short delay didn’t deter the group’s focus – something that impressed him early.

“We had some adversity to work through today,” Taggart said of the weather. “We were into it everyone was ready and then we stopped. And that worries you. But guys stayed sharp, got excited to get back out and went back to playing ball.”

Taggart added that if there was anything he was disappointed with during the first day of practice, it was the team’s overall conditioning.

Something he says will have to improve quickly.

“We look the part, we look like a D-1 football team,” he said. “We looked bigger, stronger and faster – but I really didn’t feel like we were in the best shape overall.

“There was too much walking. I want guys running around all the time – so if there was a negative, that was it. Not enough running, too much walking.”

 

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