Wide receivers coach Terry Obee and linebackers/special teams coach Karl Maslowski spoke to media for the first time since being hired after Saturday’s practice.
Obee spoke about the wide receivers, who Head Coach Willie Taggart said are struggling with catching the ball throughout the first week of spring practice.
“They need to learn how to push past the fatigue,” Obee said. “We’ve been working a little extra on catching balls. They’re a little rusty. What you have to do is catch. The more balls you catch, the better you become. The most important thing for a wideout is to catch the ball. If we have any drops it’s no good, that’s how I see it.”
Obee said the root of the problem is mostly mental.
“We’ve got good players and they’ve shown sparks of goodness and doing some great things, but then they get fatigued and their mind wanders,” he said. “One dropped ball is a problem for me. It could cost you a game. They need to get better, and they will get better.”
Maslowski talked about the defense, which has impressed Taggart the other coaches throughout the first week.
He said he likes the effort that he’s seen and the improvements that they’ve made.
“The first day was OK,” he said. “The second day we actually took a step back, and (Friday) they really came on … We’ve still got to clean up a lot of stuff, but the effort is starting to stand out.”
Much of the credit for the defensive improvement can be given to defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who spent the last four seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Kansas.
Maslowski called Bowen a perfectionist, but said that isn’t a bad thing.
“He understands (the coaches’) limitations and our players’ limitations,” Maslowski said. “This is a defense he’s been running for 10 years and he understands where everyone is supposed to be.”
Maslowski said the plan is to keep things simple for the players and that the main focus is on concepts rather than teaching actual plays.
The Topper defense has been studying old film from Bowen’s Kansas defenses, which Maslowski said has mostly been shown to the coaches so they can learn it and show the players from there.
“It’s good that we’re finally in practice now because we can say ‘hey, this is where you’re supposed to be, this is how it’s supposed to look, this is why you’re wrong and this is why you’re right.'” Maslowski said.
Western has 10 practices left on the spring schedule, with scrimmages set for the next two Saturdays before the April 17 spring game.