Helton, Spencer, Kincade address media in virtual 2021 C-USA Media Day

Wyatt Sparkman, Football reporter

Western Kentucky Football head coach Tyson Helton, offensive lineman Cole Spencer and defensive back Antwon Kincade fielded questions from the media via zoom on Wednesday afternoon as part of Conference USA’s virtual media day.

Helton began by expressing his satisfaction with his team’s efforts throughout the spring and the development of his roster’s offense, which has been led by new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley.

“Really excited about what we’re doing offensively, our new offensive coordinator Zack Kittley has done a really good job in the spring,” Helton shared. “We have a lot of new faces out there, [a] new quarterback, new wideouts… I really like what we did in the spring. I think we’ll have a high-powered offense to complement our defense and we’ll see what happens.”

Helton explained how his duties and roles as head coach have changed during his first few years on the Hill, and shared that Kittley will be taking on a lot of the responsibility on offense as the team enters its third year under Helton’s command.

“…Going into year three, I feel really comfortable about where we are, I feel comfortable about my role,” Helton said. “I’m taking on a little bit of a new role here, I’ve always called plays, [but] Coach Kittley is going to take the helm, I’ll still have a lot of say in the offense particularly in the run game and pass protection and those kind of things but at the end of the day I had to step back and look at what is the best thing for the team, how do I become the best head coach for this football team.”

Helton then dove into his thoughts on WKU’s schedule for the upcoming year, touching on how tough the Hilltoppers’ non-conference slate may prove to be and his excitement to face nationally recognized powerful programs.

“I really like our schedule, early in the season is a very challenging schedule but we embrace it,” Helton said. “We’ve talked about [this] all the time – if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and it puts us on a platform, the first four games, to position ourselves to have an exceptional year.”

“Our second game in the season with Army [is on the] 20-year anniversary of 9-11, that’s going to be a huge game for us,” Helton continued. “I know a lot of people will be watching. [It] puts us in a great arena and a great platform for people to see us…and then to get to host Indiana at home, they’ll probably be a top 10, top 15 team when they come here, [but] Western has always had history of winning big games, winning against power five opponents. Those are the games our fans, our players, our coaches, we all look forward to those games.”

WKU’s starting left tackle Cole Spencer said Houston Baptist transfer quarterback Bailey Zappe has done a great job of commanding the offense. Zappe followed Kittley to WKU after lighting up both FCS and FBS competition, ranking no. 1 in college football in 2020 with 458.3 yards per game and breaking the passing yards record for an FCS quarterback against an FBS defense with 567 yards against Texas Tech. 

“This is his system, so he knows it better than any of us,” Spencer said. “He really took charge of the offense and asserted his dominance. He gave us basically a sneak peak of what he’s capable of doing and what he can do during the season. So, really excited to get that back up during fall camp with him, see more of what he’s got.”

Both Spencer and Kincade were two of seven Hilltoppers to make a Pro Football Focus’ All-Conference USA team on Saturday. PFF rated Spencer’s overall blocking a 78.2, second highest in C-USA in 2020.

“It’s incredible. When you’re mentioned [in the] preseason of things you’ve done in your past it is interesting and it’s very important because going to the next season guys are looking at you [like you are] the next level,” Kincade said. “…You have numerous guys on the team or multiple guys on the team that’s getting a whole lot of accolades. It speaks volumes of the team. It speaks highly of us. We’re looking forward to dominating this season.”  

Football reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @wyattsparkman3.