For the first time since leaving the field with the Miami Beach Bowl trophy on December 22, the WKU football team returned to the field and with it the process of filling vacant starting spots and continuing to build the championship mindset.
"I thought the first day went pretty good," said third-year WKU head coach Jeff Brohm. "We've got some guys that want to do well. They want to be players and they want to find a way to help this team win. We definitely have a long ways to go. We have some guys that need repetitions. They need experience. We need to get better at certain positions for sure - quarterback, tight end and some spots on defense. All those things showed out today the way I thought they would. We have plenty of work to do, but I think our guys are willing. They know that it's a process and we have 14 more to find a way to improve."
For the players, the return to the field, following an off season of conditioning and testing, is always a time for celebration. The mood on the field was jovial and the energy high.
"It was great being back out here on the field and playing the game again, especially being out here with my teammates," said senior running back Anthony Wales. "We've been grinding, so it actually feels good to be back here playing football."
Still, the first day does come with some rust and occasionally a reminder of the importance of each detail from the head coach.
"I don't want any complacency," said Brohm, adding, "if you're going to be out here, you've might as well find a way to be the very best that you can. They have to push themselves and they have to push their teammates. As coaches, we have to make sure we stay on them, challenge during them during practice."
Much of the focus during spring will be the open quarterback position, a spot that has been held down by Brandon Daughty for nearly three full seasons. Separation can't be expected on day one, but Brohm stressed the key is high amounts of reps during practice to help further develop all four quarterbacks - Drew Eckels, Tyler Ferguson, Nelson Fishback and Mike White - participating in spring drills.
“I like (our quarterbacks),” Brohm added. “They all want to be the guy. You have to remember, we had a quarterback who played very well at a high level. Even he went through some trials and tribulations. We’ve got a long way to go. We have to get as many reps as we can because these guys have been standing back for a long time. We haven’t had another guy play in two and a half years. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Hilltoppers will practice again on Wednesday and Friday this week, with both expected to run from 4-6p.m. inside Houchens-Smith Stadium.