It would have taken a root canal to wipe the smile off Will Hall's face following the University of West Alabama's football practice Monday afternoon at Tiger Stadium … and even that may not have worked.
Late morning thunderstorms threatened to put a damper on the Tigers first day in full gear, but by the time 3:30 rolled around, the skies had cleared and the Tigers were suited up and ready to go to work.
“The Good Lord showed how much he loves the Tigers again,” Hall said. “It stormed all morning and then cleared up in the afternoon for us. People missing practices everywhere and we never miss one. I guess it proves again that when you do right and live right, good things happen.”
Defensive lineman Willie Packer and cornerback Malcolm Butler sat out nursing ankle injuries, while offensive guard Andy Nations was held out due to a neck strain. Even so, Hall's enthusiasm couldn't be dampened.
“I really like this team,” he said. “All in all, we had a lot of spirit, a lot of energy and a lot of big plays.”
The 2011 Gulf South Conference Co-Coach of the Year, Hall said defensive backs Otha Foster, D'Eric Jackson and Fred Barnes, quarterbacks Kyle Caldwell and Gary Johnston, as well as outside linebackers Bryant McGowan and Deon Lacey had good practices Monday.
“Both quarterbacks continue to do some good things, but we have to get more out of our tight ends,” Hall said. “They are a talented bunch, but they are making a few mental errors right now.”
“Defensively, we continue to look for who is going to be the “Mike” backer,” Hall said. “(Safety) Fred Barnes is somebody we continue to see flying around every day. He is a guy who is going to be a demon on special teams and give us more depth in the secondary.”
The first two-a-day drills of fall camp are scheduled for Tuesday, followed by a scripted scrimmage on Wednesday. Tuesday morning will be heavily devoted to special teams, followed by regular work in the afternoon. Hall said the Tigers will conduct a “big-time scrimmage” on Saturday.
UWA opens the season Sept. 1 at Clark Atlanta ranked 15th in the America Football Coach Association football poll. UWA is one of three GSC schools ranked in the top 25. Valdosta State is ranked No. 8 and Delta State 14th. North Alabama was not ranked in the top 25.
“Rankings never mean anything at this time of the year,” Foster, a preseason All-GSC defensive back said. “Still, I believe that 15th is a mediocre ranking for this team.”