Bowling Green, Ky. — Two weeks down, one to go. The Western Kentucky University football team the second week of fall camp to close Saturday morning at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. After hitting the practice field 16 times in the past 13 days, the Hilltoppers will get a day off Sunday, before returning to the field Monday morning for the final two-a-day practice of camp.
“We continue to have the consistency that we’re looking for,” said head coach Willie Taggart. “Our guys are working hard and being consistent on both sides of the ball. Our guys are rising to challenges we put in front of them every day, and that’s good to see.”
Introducing the Governors — With the opener of the 2012 season just two weeks away, the focus of practice will continue to be on getting better and tightening up certain aspects of this year’s Hilltopper squad, but starting on Saturday the coaching staff will begin to introduce players to this year’s first opponent, Austin Peay.
“We’ll have some things throughout practice today that will start getting our guys familiar with Austin Peay,” explained Taggart. “We have to continue to get better at what we‘re doing, but we will start working towards that first game from here on out. We have some specific things we need to be ready for on both sides of the ball, but in the end we just have to continue emphasizing playing fundamental football.”
Competition Continues — Since the first day Taggart returned to campus three years ago, he has emphasized the importance of competition within the program in everything they do. That message has resonated with everyone in the program. Throughout the last week, the defense has introduced the red pants, indicating the 11 guys on that side of the ball who — for that day — will be the scheduled starters for the season opener. On Saturday, defensive backs coach Alonzo Hampton talked about his “Do Something Award” given each day to the DB that has the best practice that particular day. According to Taggart, those kind of small competitions will only continue to strengthen this Hilltopper team.
“We always talk to our guys about coming out every day at practice and making themselves better and competing,” said Taggart. “We have a lot of guys now that can help us and want starting jobs, so there’s no room for anybody to take a day off or have a bad day so someone else is going to be ready to step in and take their spot.”
Kickers Coming Around — Speaking of competition, perhaps the most talked about entering camp this year was in the kicking game. After the Hilltoppers struggled in field goal department last season, making that position better has been a big point of emphasis this fall — so much so that Taggart shifted assistant Karl Maslowski’s responsibilities strictly to special teams.
“The biggest thing for those guys is to have short memories and live kick by kick,” said, Maslowski. “Having me over on the field with them during practice I think has been a big help. It allows those guys to have immediate feedback, and you can see their improvement as we‘ve gone through camp.”
Family Fun Day One Week Away — The fourth annual Family Fun Day will be held next Saturday, Aug. 25 from 4-6 p.m. (CDT) at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. The free event will give WKU fans and opportunity to interact and get autographs from Hilltopper players and coaches. There will also be a Fun Zone set up for kids with activities including inflatable and face painting. Free Coke products and popcorn will also be provided to the first 500 fans.