BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The WKU football team practiced in full pads for the first time all spring on Sunday at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, braving the elements on a cold, rainy morning in Bowling Green to bring a close to the first weekend of spring practice.
Defense was the focus on Sunday, as head coach Bobby Petrino, defensive coordinator Nick Holt and senior defensive end Calvin Washington all talked to the media about defensive schemes and looked back on the first three practices of the spring.
“After three days I’m fairly happy with what I’ve seen,” WKU head coach Bobby Petrino said following Sunday’s practice. “We have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to really clean up, but our players have been eager and I think our coaches are doing a nice job of teaching.”
One of those coaches would be WKU defensive coordinator Nick Holt. Holt, who has coached in five BCS bowl games and won a national title at USC, comes to WKU inheriting a defense that has plenty of experience in the secondary and at the linebacker position in 2013.
“As far as the secondary we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football,” Holt said. “It sure shows. So far, so good. All the linebackers that are back have played for the last couple of years. On the back end, we have some kids with a lot of game experience. Now we have to teach them a couple of new defenses and a couple of new concepts, but I think they’re picking them up pretty good.”
Despite plenty of experience on the back-end, WKU and Holt will have to fill the void left by four graduating defensive linemen that all started in 2012. Through the first three practices of the spring, Holt is using a variety of rotations to start seeing who can fill the void left by the graduating linemen.
“We have a lot of bodies there and a lot of capable kids there,” Holt said of the defensive line group coming back. “We just have to figure it out and keep getting better. We’re working hard and we just have to find the right rotation and the right guys at the right positions. Hopefully by the time spring ends we’ll have a solid two-deep.”
One of the players expected to step up and provide an instant spark is senior defensive end Calvin Washington. Washington had a sack and two tackles for loss in 2012 as a junior. The 6-5, 277-pound lineman will be depended upon during the spring, especially with new junior college players in the mix, something Washington experienced after transferring from a junior college in 2012.
“Getting the younger guys up to the tempo,” Washington said of his goals for the spring. “Coming from high school or even junior college, the speed isn’t Division I. That’s probably the biggest thing, getting guys used to the tempo.”
Washington and the Hilltoppers will return to the practice field for an early-morning practice on Thursday in week two of spring ball. The annual spring game is set for April 20 at 2:00 PM (CT) and will be open to the public. Complete coverage of all spring practices can be found at WKUSports.com with videos, picture galleries, quotes and recaps. A full transcript from today’s availability is attached to this e-mail.