Fall camp comes to a close for Western football

Adam Feiner

To say it’s been a hectic past year for the Western Illinois football team might be an understatement. The Leathernecks went through an FCS playoff run, and then saw former head coach Bob Nielson leave for conferencerival South Dakota. The most recent adjustment the team has had to make is learning a completely new offensive scheme under the direction of Charlie Fisher.

Fisher arrived just in time for the start of spring camp, giving his players some time to learn the new playbook. Now the Leathernecks are focused on being in-sync offensively as they begin preparation for their season opener Sept. 1 at Eastern Illinois.

“They’re getting there,” Fisher said. “They’re bought in with what we want to do. It’s new and takes time to learn. We’re ahead of the curve now, having worked on things in the spring. It’ll be a growth process throughout the season, too.”

“We’ve taken a lot of steps forward from spring as a team,” quarterback Sean McGuire said. “Everything has been installed. Now we’re just getting comfortable.”

Still, Fisher knows that both sides of the ball will go through their normal ups and downs as camp comes to an end.

“There’s a little bit of everything when you go through camp,” Fisher said. “One side might do better one day, then the other day it’s the opposite. We keep track of everything with a point system, and it’s been pretty even.”

The bulk of the work has already been done. Now the Leathernecks will start to focus in on more attention-to-detail schemes defensively and offensively.

“We’ll clean the little things up, and start working on perfecting things,” McGuire said. “We want to practice perfect, but we all can’t wait to get going.“

We need to stay healthy and be mentally sharp,” redshirt junior linebacker Brett Taylor said. “I definitely think we’re on track. We’re not doing as many physical things right now, more working on the mental scheme of things for EIU.”

The first week of game preparation will begin Sunday as the Leathernecks prepare for the Panthers. Fisher said that as long as the team stays focused and comes ready to work in practice, the rest would take care of itself on game night in Charleston Sept. 1.

“I always look at it like we don’t play until our practices are up, so we still have work to do,” Fisher said. “They’re anxious to play now, but we’re not to that point just yet. When the bell rings September 1, we’ll be ready.”