Austin Peay Sports Information Office
Clarksville, TN – With half its roster newcomers, Austin Peay State University football team will report to camp Sunday in preparation for the much-anticipated 2014 season.
“It is an exciting time of the year,” APSU coach Kirby Cannon said. “It’s like a rebirth of football. I am as excited this year 30-year-plus later as I was in the first year or two. I know our kids are anxious to see how much improvement we have in our talent base and our performance base. We are going to be vastly improved football team.”
Cannon and staff are excited but also own a bit of trepidation about a roster with more than 40 freshmen or redshirt freshman. Many of them are part of Cannon’s first true recruiting class.
“Youth brings a lot of issues,” Cannon said. “Initially, just being organized in our practices, handing out equipment , in our meetings and what we expect from them in the classroom—all those things are challenging when half your team is new to campus. But with that comes the reminder to keep things simple, being very organized and the learning will occur. We will have a young football team with a lot a future ahead of it.”
With the numerous new faces the Governors coaches will dedicate some early practices and parts of other practices and scrimmages to freshmen learning the system.
“Some of the freshmen will respond to that and show they are ready to play,” Cannon said. “Others will show their lack of experience or maturity and possibly become redshirt candidates. Over a three-week camp there will be peaks and valleys with them all. The main thing the coaches need to do is to have a lot of contact, monitor their progress and go above and beyond in helping them to transition to a new program and a different phase of their life.”
Skill positions are areas where the Governors could receive help from freshmen in 2014. In fact, wide receiver and defensive back are two specific areas that lack great depth in upperclassmen.
Undoubtedly, freshmen are the program’s future. But Cannon knows the upperclassmen are key to 2014 from both an experience standpoint and physical maturity. The returning 40 Govs now have undergone two offseasons of conditioning under Cannon.
“We have had an outstanding summer,” Cannon said. “I think our summer workouts—our summer attendance—in talking to some of the other coaches was at an all-time high. Our strength and conditioning levels are vastly improved over a year ago. We are leaner, stronger team which cannot help make us a better football team. “
The Governors had hoped to open fall practice in new Governors Stadium. But a drainage problem has delayed new turf from being laid. As a result, the Governors are working with the Lady Govs soccer coaches in sharing the Morgan Brothers Soccer Field for the first couple of weeks.
The soccer field, which runs east to west, has been divided in two going north and south, allowing the Governors some 65 yards to practice. The hope is for football to alternate practices on the 65-yard fields to better preserve field conditions in what is expected to be higher temperatures this next week.
At times, the football Govs will have later normal morning practices than normal and in other cases will be pushed up a little earlier in the afternoon. Some night practices also will be scheduled. Although the Govs will get on the field Monday afternoon the first full practice is scheduled for 9:00am, Tuesday.
“Those are just some of the organizational challenges you typically have no matter what,” Cannon said. “We will overcome those and they will not be a distraction in camp.”