It's no secret that WKU's first opponent is drawing nearer every day.
But that's not the focus right now. The Toppers have been in shoulder pads for the past two days. There's been plenty of hitting, including the 'Western Drill,' WKU's version of the 'Oklahoma Drill,' yesterday pitting three defenders against three offensive blockers and a running back in a five-yard wide space.
Nebraska can wait.
"We're gonna get ready for Nebraska when it's time for that," coach Willie Taggart said. "Right now, we've just gotta get good at what we do. We're still in the process of doing that. If we're not good at what we do, it's not gonna matter. We wanna at least give our guys a chance. If we can get really good at what we do, I know I keep repeating myself, but it doesn't matter who we go against, we'll be fine. We've gotta keep doing that. Nebraska's gonna come."
The heat has also been bearing down the past three days. WKU has practiced at 2 pm each day, with today's practice cut short by lightning near campus.
Heat has been no match, though.
"We haven't even been worried about heat," senior wide receiver Quinterrance Cooper said. "We've just been worried about getting after it, just getting after the defense, getting after the offense, coming out here and playing every day."
Offensively, the Toppers continue to make progress in the new west coast offense. There's been a number of standout performers thus far, including junior tailback Bobby Rainey, who looks to have an even bigger role this season.
"It's coming slowly, but it's coming," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys in there getting mental reps, getting in, messing up early and correcting the next time they get in."
Getting all the way there can wait.
WKU is somewhat past baby steps, but it's still early. Right now, the biggest goal is progressing and getting better every day. There's been a number of early signs of doing just that.
"Just like any other day one, we came out kinda timid, not knowing what to expect," Cooper said. "After that, we just got back to the basics and kept going, everybody having fun and once you have fun, it's contagious. It makes things go a lot smoother."
Rainey and the other ball carriers haven't been tackled just yet. There's been plenty of contact throughout the week, but Taggart has said repeatedly that he's trying to get his defenders to play football, 'the right way,' which includes getting good pad level before tackling.
The tackling can wait.
But it won't wait much longer. It begins tomorrow as WKU will be in full pads for the first time this fall. Taggart has a few things he's like to see. Nebraska is in the back of his mind, but there's other priorities for now.
"We're trying to develop that physical mentality that no matter what we have on, we're gonna be physical," he said. "There's always the next day and getting better. We're just going out there, putting on pads and we gotta keep going. We're not tackling, so it's no different than what we've been doing. The thing I wanna see is continue to see that energy and we had a lot of it today."
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