West Alabama travels to Samford on Saturday with an opportunity to post consecutive wins against teams competing in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision for the first time in school history.
The Tigers ended the 2011 regular season with a 30-23 victory over Georgia State and can make it two straight against FCS foes with a positive outcome against the Bulldogs. To accomplish that, head coach Will Hall says the Tigers will have to be much better than in last week's win at Clark Atlanta.
Even though UWA gained 455 yards and scored 44 points, the Tigers were also penalized 18 times, taking points off the scoreboard or erasing opportunities for points. Has UWA improved?
“If we haven't, we are going to get our butt kicked,” Hall said as his football team readied for Thursday's workout in shorts and helmets. “We have had a great week of practice and have worked some of the kinks out of our offensive unit.
“Last week was a good win for us, but just being honest, it was a game we expected to win,” Hall said. “We didn't play as well as we wanted to, which has given us motivation for this week.
“This is a big week for us as far as the reputation of our program and our university in this state,” Hall said. “Samford is a well-respected school and football program in this state. To go up there and get a win would cause a lot of people to take notice of what's going on around here.”
The Bulldogs are 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the Southern Conference after beating Furman, 24-21, at home last week.
“Samford is really good, so we have to be more in sync and have fewer penalties,” quarterback Kyle Caldwell said. “We have to function as a team, while each doing our individual jobs and helping each other out.”
The Tigers are coming off a stellar defensive effort at Clark Atlanta, limiting the Panthers to 78 total yards while pitching a shutout. UWA recorded 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the 44-0 win.
“We have to be more focused and physical than last week,” defensive tackle Willie Packer said. “We made a lot of mental errors. Sometimes you can't do things the way you would like to and we saw that in the first game. I believe we have progressed this week.”
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. There will be no television, but the UWA broadcast can be heard on ESPN 104.9 beginning with the pregame show at 5:15 p.m. The Samford broadcast can be heard in Birmingham on 97.3 The Zone.