Bowling Green, Ky. — Six hours on the field — split into two sessions of a rookie and veteran practice — made up the first day back on the practice field for the 2012 Western Kentucky University football team on Monday.
For the second straight year, head coach Willie Taggart is dividing the first four days of practice into newcomer and upperclassmen sessions, allowing the newest Hilltoppers to get reps and get acclimated to the practice routine.
“I thought we got a lot done on both sides of the ball, and I saw some good things,” said Taggart, who is entering his third season as head coach. “We’re not quite where I want us to be in terms of conditioning, but we’re going to get there quick.”
With a number of returners that saw significant playing time in 2011, the veteran practice allowed for much more 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work than would typically be seen on the first day of camp. And with this now being the third training camp with Taggart at the helm, things are able to move a lot faster early in the session with a seasoned team.
“The difference is night and day compared to our first year back,” explained Taggart. “Again, I thought we were in a little better shape right out of the gate last fall, but I look for us to come out tomorrow and look different. We talked last night that we have to start the season off fast, and that all begins with the way we practice.”
Even with the split practices, Taggart was pleased with the efforts of several newcomers — including freshman running back Leon Allen, who practiced with the veterans and saw a majority of the carries out of the backfield.
“Leon has been able to come in and pick things up quickly,” said Taggart. “But it’s just day one. We‘re not going to put too much stock in a lot of things until we put the pads on.”
The Hilltoppers will go through three more days of split workouts, before donning full pads for the first time on Friday in the first full-squad practice of camp.
The Hilltoppers have just 26 days before they open up the 2012 season at home against Austin Peay on Sept. 1. The three weeks of fall camp will conclude on Aug. 25 with the fourth annual Family Fun Day event at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium from 4-6 p.m. (CDT). Season tickets for all six WKU home games in 2012 are available starting as low as $50, and can be purchased by contacting the WKU ticket office at 1-800-5 BIG RED, or online at WKUSports.com.