The University of West Alabama football team prepared for the season by putting in a lot of hard work during the summer and fall semester.
Brett Gilliland, the team’s head coach, said they have prepared the same way they always have. He said they began the summer with 70 guys working out five days a week with coach Boyd, the strength coach, putting in a lot of physical work.
He said they started practice Aug. 8 and went through a regiment of hard practices in the heat. Gilliland said they were trying to test their physical ability and endurance level. He said they then broke down the mental aspect of the game and geared everything toward what they do offensively and defensively scheme wise.
Don Bailey, the offensive coordinator, said they are using a spread system and want to play as fast as possible. He said they want to average 20 seconds a play.
He said they want to wear the defense down but also execute what they are trying to do. He said they want the boys to defend the whole field literally from sideline to sideline.
Nathan Burton, the defensive coordinator, said they are using a multiple system where they kind of change and evolve a little week to week. He said they have a fourth down defensive structure, and they want to make sure that people do not know what they are doing.
He said their practices are usually high energy. He said when they are not having high energy it seems to go a lot slower for them, so they try to have fun on typical practice days.
Bailey said he feels prepared for this season. He said the guys put in a lot of hours during the summer with practice, weightlifting and running. He said the biggest thing for them will be mentally preparing for each game.
Starting quarterback Austin Grammer said, “I think we’re in really good shape offensively, which I can credit to practice.”
He said he also has things he works on personally, and he spends a lot of time watching film and meeting with the coaches.
Safety Felix Woods said the practices have prepared them for every type of situation they will see in a game.
Gilliland said they try to motivate their players through positive reinforcement. He said the main thing they do is show the players their goal and show them that it is not easy to achieve and they have to work for it.
He said, “We can’t always be there hollering at them and being the ones to get them going. They have to take that on themselves.”
Gilliland said they try to organize things to where the team can be together outside of football. He said during the spring the team does fun but physically taxing group activities so that they get multiple benefits out of them.
He said their biggest challenge will be getting a large number of guys who have not played together to play as one unit. He said that at any given time, out of the 11 guys on the field, there are nine or 10 who have never played together.
Grammer said he thinks they are pretty young and that presents a challenge in itself because the guys are playing their first games and getting used to things. He said he thinks their biggest challenge will be finishing games and excelling with the young guys on the team.
Gilliland said their goal is always to compete for the conference championship. Other goals he said were to watch the group grow closer, play for each other and trust their coaches. He said if they see that, then he thinks they will have a good shot at reaching their goal.
Woods said, “We’re steady building a brotherhood, continuing to grow, continuing to hang out with each other. The bond is getting tighter and tighter and I can see it compared to last year.”
Gilliland said he feels like the team has come a long way since the beginning of the summer. He said he feels like they got a little better each day of practice and he continues to see the improvement.
He said you can hopefully expect to see a group of guys playing fast and physical on the field. He said from a fan standpoint, you can look down and see organization and know what they are doing and what they are trying to do.
Bailey said it does not matter who they are playing, they just need to focus on the game and play in the moment. He said if they do that then the rest will take care of itself.
Burton said he thinks they should have a winning season and everyone should expect that around here.
Gilliland said, “We play an extremely difficult schedule, but that’s every year. We’re in the best conference that there is in this division…I think if we come together and keep improving each week then it will be a fun year.”
The Tigers’ upcoming game will be against Mississippi College this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Clinton, Miss. The first home game will be next Saturday against North Alabama at 6 p.m. Both games will be radio broadcasted on ESPN 104.9. You can check online at uwaathletics.com for a live video feed.
The team asks for all students to come out and support them.