Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University opens up its fall football camp Aug. 4th, under first-year head coach Kirby Cannon, as players return from summer break looking start a new and winning chapter in Governors football.
“The last four months have been all paper and planning,” Cannon said. “You have to do those things and do them well, but we actually get the chance to get better starting on Aug. 4th and that’s the exciting thing for me.
“The kids come back and we start the glorious process of creating a good football team. There’s going to be ups and downs and lefts and rights in every season and with every team, but Aug. 4th is really our first step in this season and have a chance to create a winning football team.”
The team will have several things to go through that first day, before starting on the field actives on Aug. 5th.
“We really send two days, and there are some teams that spend three days, on just the paperwork, compliance, academic check, the physicals, and any other stuff that needs to be taken care of,” Cannon said. “We have the same requirements as anyone else in Division I and we do it all in two days and I think our kids are ready for that and they’ve done a good job of the lead up things that help camp to get off to a good start.”
Cannon, who served as secondary coach at Central Michigan University the last three years after spending 11 seasons as head coach at Missouri S&T University took the head coaching position in March and has settled into the Clarksville area and is to start the process of building a winning program.
“I know where the Chick-Fil-A’s are and that’s an important step for me,” said Cannon with a laugh, “But I feel much more comfortable and I know the kids names now, so there’s not going to be as much ‘hey you’ which I don’t want to have.
“I’m comfortable with the idea that we’re organized as a staff, even though I’ve filled two positions on my coaching staff also that’s given me an opportunity to feel good that we’re all on the same page and that we’re going to move forward.
“The last four months have been all paper and planning. You have to do those things and do them well, but we actually get the chance to get better starting on Aug. 4th and that’s the exciting thing for me.
“The kids come back and we start the glorious process of creating a good football team. There’s going to be ups and downs and lefts and rights in every season and with every team, but Aug. 4th is really our first step in this season and have a chance to create a winning football team. You can’t emphasis to much as far as the organization goes. The kids will be looking for a reason to get better or a reason to get worse.”
Coach Cannon also sat down and answered several questions about this upcoming season.
Q: The team has struggled the past two or three seasons, have you had to come in a work on confidence with the players?
A: Real confidence gets build by winning ballgames, but you have to be confident to win games so that’s the dichotomy if you will of coaching. You have to show belief in the guys and you have to lay that plan out, because players love that A,B, C gets me to D and if we can keep on track and keep saying what they need to do to get better most kids want to be good and they want to win games, so that’ll buy in.
It’s when thing go wrong that you’ll sometimes have players say it’s going to be just like last year or this isn’t the right plan, so more than anything else, show consistency in that plan and don’t deviate from that plan with any short-run decisions.
Q: Starting your fall camp, how much more confident do you feel compared to the spring practice?
A: I’m very confident in what we’re going to do offensively, defensively and on special teams
wise. I’m very confident that the coaches understand the plan so I’m more confident because of that.
From a standpoint of evaluating our talent I think you can go into every year assuming that you’re not go enough to go out and win games and players need to understand that wither we’re coming off a 2-9 season or a 9-2 season you have to reestablish those building blocks and reestablish those fundamentals of play that will help you to win this year.
Q: Going into camp and looking at your team on paper how do you feel about this group and where you’re at as far as your roster goes?
A: If we had to play today with what I know about our kids, I think defensively we would be average to good. The number of kids we have back and the fact we have some players that con dominate their positions, I think that’s the evaluation on our defense.
Offensively, it’s a total rebuild. There are enough changes in the system and with the quarterback position not being established in the spring, I think every coach in the country would tell you that if you that if you don’t have your quarterback coming back or have the next guy established you have a lot of work to do in camp.
The way we’ll prepare a quarterback that hasn’t been a starter, whoever that might be in three weeks of practice, is to make practice as game like as possible. We put tremendous pressure on the quarterback position to preform and whatever pressure we can put on them is nothing close to what games create on quarterbacks. We’ll have a plan to get our quarterback ready to play, but he also has to step up.
Q: That are your realistic expectations for this year compared to what fans expectations maybe, especially with that early part of the schedule?
A: I think daunting would be a word that a lot of people would use, because we’ll go into all of those five road games as heavy underdogs probably, but I’ll use the cliché of we’ll take it one game at a time.
Our goals going into the University of Tennessee game is that we’ll show up with command and knowledge of our offense and defensive schemes and go in with the absolute determination to play the best football that we can play. I expected to play well and if we play our best football against Tennessee and they don’t play their best football then we’ve got a game. That will be the plan.
Q: After getting through that tough opening part of the schedule and then getting into Ohio Valley Conference play, what are one of two major things you’re going to have to do to be competitive in conference play?
A: We have to use every one of those early games as a learning experience. Sometimes road games are a better environment to learn. You have them together for a longer period of time, your controlling all the meals, the meeting times, all those things, so things seems to come together a little faster during road games.
If we use all five of those games to get better, when we get to that sixth game against Eastern Illinois for our first home game we have a chance to be a good football team.
Austin Peay opens its football season Aug. 31st in Knoxville, TN 5:00p.m. CT versus Tennessee, while the Govs first home game is Oct. 10th at 6:00p.m. versus Eastern Illinois University at Governors Stadium.