Rob Hankins, a sophomore linebacker, is ready to start the season, but understands that the upcoming practices may be the difference towards having a successful season.
So far in fall camp, Hankins has already felt the difference in the aura surrounding the practice field.
"You can just feel the difference," he said. "The season is almost here and everyone's excited. All of us are trying to go that much harder. We all care just a little bit more and it makes a difference. When you're tired on the last few reps, you push harder for it and it wasn't really like that in the spring."
The sophomore played in ten games last season, but accumulated just ten tackles. With the team's performance last season, Hankins feels like the Wildcats have a chip on their shoulder.
"I'd say we have a statement to make," Hankins said. "I don't think that people are expecting that much from us. We like it that way because we can come out and impress some people. It makes us really excited."
With Jeff Casteel revamping the entire defense, changing the scheme to a 3-3-5, many fans and players weren't sure how the adjustment was going to be. In the spring, players were focused on trying to adjust to the speed. Now, in the fall, Hankins says that the players are doing a better job learning the finer details.
"It's really night and day from the spring," he said. "Coming in, changing from a 4-3 to a 3-3-5, it's completely different. At first, it was a baby crawl trying to learn this.
"Now that we've had fifteen practices in the spring and we are having practices now, it doesn't seem that slow. We are really starting to pick up the specifics."
With more practices, should come fewer mistakes. The coaches know that the team has had time to learn and they are being less lenient on the players that were in spring camp.
"They gave us the spring to figure out the way they are going to run things," Hankins said. "Now, we are acclimated and, excluding the freshman, we understand how things are supposed to go. There's just no room for screwing around."
Hankins has been working with the incoming freshman and is impressed with the way that the linebackers have done so far in camp.
"The freshman linebackers are really competing," Hankins said. "They're getting in on the field here and there and they're making plays. I'd say they're doing a great job."