WKU football team completes first practice of fall camp

WKU football team completes first practice of fall camp

Zach Greenwell

This story was originally published Aug. 9, 2010.

Western’s first football practice of fall camp was a mixed bag for first-year head coach Willie Taggart.

Taggart said he saw some things he liked Monday night at Houchens-Smith Stadium, but the rust from summer layoff was evident.

“It started slower than what I expected, picked up halfway through practice and kind of tailed off toward the end,” Taggart said. “We’ve got to get better – we’re not where we want to be, but I saw some good things.”

Monday was the first chance for the Hilltoppers to get away from summer conditioning, and Taggart said the coaching staff is working to get the players ready for the stop-and-go style of an actual football game.

“It’s going to be important for our guys to condition with equipment on,” he said. “They’ve been conditioning all summer out here with their shirts off, and now they’ve got a helmet and jersey and everything else on them, so they’ve got to get used to doing that.

“It’s a different kind of conditioning now.”

Although the practice didn’t begin until 6 p.m., it wasn’t exactly cool on Feix Field. Several players went down during practice with cramps, but junior defensive lineman Jared Clendenin said that would fade as practices progress.

“As a team, I feel like we’re in shape, but it’s different when you put the helmet on,” Clendenin said. “It’s always going to take one or two days to get acclimated to it. I was surprised how fast we were getting to the ball early and keeping that same mentality late in practice when we’re a little winded.

“We had a few people making simple mistakes, but we’ll get them corrected. It’s the beginning of practice, so we’ve got plenty of time.”

The Toppers will practice tomorrow from 2-5 p.m. at Smith Stadium following the team’s media day activities. Taggart, sophomore tight end Jack Doyle and senior linebacker Thomas Majors will be available to the media along with select assistant coaches.

While Taggart’s first fall practice at the helm wasn’t everything he hoped it would be, he said he’s just excited that he can finally start to put the pieces together.

“Like I told you guys the other day, it’s like Christmas,” Taggart said. “I’m ready to open presents and see what I got. I saw it today – I was happy with some of the presents, and some I wasn’t. Those ones I wasn’t happy with, I didn’t play with them as much.”

Taggart was jokingly asked whether or not he would return the “presents” he wasn’t as pleased with, and he made it clear that he’s not ready to give up on anybody that quickly.

“I’m not going to turn them back,” Taggart said, laughing. “If they look interesting later, I might play with them.”