Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University football team completed its third day of preseason camp Wednesday night at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, and head coach David Elson continues to be pleased with what he sees on Jimmy Feix Field.
“It was definitely our best day,” he said. “We were physical, and the guys understood the tempo we wanted to practice at. I thought we took a step in the right direction from a technique standpoint, and we didn’t have a ton of missed assignments.”
It was the Hilltoppers first day in shells, which include helmets and shoulder pads. Although there was no tackling, contact was allowed, and Elson said that it’s the staff’s first chance to see the newcomers’ demeanor on the field. “When you do put the helmets and shoulder pads on, even though you’re not going to the ground, you get to find out the guys who are going to lay a lick on another player,” he commented. “We have a physical football team, that was one thing that I was pleased to see.”
The fifth-year head coach continues to compliment the work of new director of strength and conditioning Jim Nowell and his staff, especially now that WKU has practiced in 90-plus-degree heat for three straight days despite beginning workouts late in the afternoon and finishing in the dark.
“You talk about it all the time how teams are built in the off-season, and I think our guys are starting to see now how all that hard work is helping them,” he said. “We’ve been able to get a lot of work done in these three days despite the fact that it has been as hot as it has been. That tells you that our guys trained hard this summer and came in ready for preseason camp.”
Again, it was the tempo set by the offense that allowed WKU to run a high number of plays in the team’s third practice session. With few mistakes and missed assignments, Elson can see that the team’s confidence is growing despite it being so early in preseason camp.
“We want to have a confident football team,” he said. “Our guys can see we have some speed and some athleticism out here, but we have talked to them that you win with achievers and lose with potential — talent doesn’t do you any good unless you have a good, cohesive team that believes in each other and what we are doing.
“We are definitely on the right track, we have the building blocks for something special.”
When discussing the battle for the starting nod at quarterback, Elson confirmed again that all three candidates are still in the running.
“We’re beginning to work both David [Wolke] and K.J. [Black] out with each group, and Brandon [Smith] is steadily getting back,” said Elson. “We’re just trying to be very cautious with him until he becomes comfortable being able to protect himself. I’ve said all along that Brandon is one of the toughest competitors on this team, and he’s not going to give anything away — he will battle as soon as he is physically ready.”
WKU will practice again Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) before its 5:30 a.m. workout Friday, which will be the team’s first in full pads. That night the Hilltoppers will participate in the annual Touchdown Club kickoff party and meet the team event at Graham Photography at Jennings Creek. It will run from 6-8 p.m. with food served by Mariah’s and Montana Grille, and inflatables available for children. Admission is free, and all in attendance will be eligible to win four tickets to a Topper football game.