WKU football blog: Thursday tidbits

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Picking up the pace:

After three straight sluggish starts, Western Kentucky has put an emphasis this week on coming out in its home opener with more of a purpose.

WKU coach David Elson said Thursday that one of his biggest points this week was to focus on starting out strong instead of slowly finding a way.

“I’ve felt good about (practice) this week, we’ve started doing a period of practice where we go through game scenarios and I think that’s helped us,” Elson said. “I think it’s a good change up and it’s more game like than our normal practice.

“So I’m hoping that’s going to help us and I think it’s definitely helped our tempo in practice.”

Elson said the focus has been a bit better this week, as opposed to last week when he stopped Tuesday’s practice midway through to punish the team for leaving trash in the locker room — a situation that disrupted practice for nearly 30 minutes. 

So with a smoother week thus far, Elson said the goal is to jump out early on Murray State and have everything hit the ground running.

“It’s definitely something we’ve talked about,” Elson said. “We’re excited about being at home and we want to show that by coming out and having a good start and just be in attack mode.

“Let’s defend our place by attacking in all three phases of the game and bring that edge and that mentality to everything we do on Saturday, and do it early.”

At the same time, Elson said his players need to be careful to not get so excited that mental lapses begin to happen at a frequent rate early in the contest.

“This almost feels like a homecoming, and we have to realize what our part is in that we have to put on a good showing for our fans and put a good product on the field,” Elson said. “But I’m not going to hold them back, they’re excited and have to learn to be excited and play that way.

“I think it’s a good thing and I’m looking forward to see how fired up they come out.”

Unseen motivation:

While the suspension of Murray State coach Matt Griffin for Saturday’s game might seem like a huge disadvantage for the Racers, Elson admitted Thursday that the situation could actually lead the opposition to a sense of added motivation.

“That was the first thing that went through my mind when I saw he got suspended, I said ‘oh great, they’re going to be fired up and wanting to play for their coach,'” Elson said. “I don’t know Matt Griffin very well, I do know he’s a good coach and he did a nice job at Tennessee-Martin, so it’s something that we’re aware of but we won’t know until we get out there.”

When asked what WKU would do if a situation similar to Griffin’s ever occurred to him, Elson simply said that there doesn’t need to be a contingency plan set in place.

“I can assure you we won’t ever have to deal with that,” Elson said with a grin.

Athletic focus:

With the emergence of athletic freshman Derrius Brooks and Tristan Jones in the WKU passing offense this season — along with the high focus on athleticism in WKU’s 2008 recruiting class — it appears that legitimate speed and big-play capability is something that the Hilltopper coaching staff is zeroing in on for the future.

With the type of spread offense WKU runs, having quick, fast, mobile athletes all over the field seems to be the best formula for success — just ask West Virginia.

“Speed an athleticism, no question, that’s what we’re looking for,” Elson said. “I think you have to have a system and adapt it to a personnel and not change systems every year.

“And the more speed and athleticism we have, the more we’re going to be able to spread it out.”

Kicking solidification: 

After junior kicker Zac Minturn won the kicking job in fall camp, senior Tanner Siewert hasn’t needed much time to unseat him.

Elson said Thursday that Siewert is now the team’s undisputed No. 1 kicker, saying that he’s simply outperformed Minturn in every facet of the position.

“Tanner’s our guy, no matter where we’re at,” Elson said. “He’s outperformed Zac in practice and everything else so he’s our kicker.”

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