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Willie Taggart: They're dying for championship football here

Western Kentucky opens Spring practice under second-year head coach Willie Taggart on Monday.

It will be the first practice with new offensive coordinator / wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni and defensive coordinator Lance Guidry.  Despite a 2-10 season a year ago, Taggart’s enthusiasm and positive outlook hasn’t changed one bit.

Taggart told the Bowling Green Daily News, “They’re dying for championship football around here, and we feel the same way. We’re not asking for anything from anybody. Let us earn that support. We don’t want anyone to give it to us. Let us earn it, and we will.”

“Let us earn 23,000 fans in Houchens-Smith Stadium (every game) - with 23,000 Hilltoppers in Houchens-Smith Stadium, there’s no way anyone can come in here and beat us.”

“I’ve been waiting for spring practice to start since that Monday after we lost to Troy (on the final day of the 2010 season). That day our team came in the weight room. It wasn’t orchestrated by the staff and it was just those guys getting together saying, ‘We’re starting a new ship now, and we’re going to get things going. And everyone’s got to be on board.’”

WKU will play Kentucky in Nashville, TN to begin the 2011 season.  Yes, we are aware that neither team is from the state of Tennessee.

The Hilltoppers will then host Navy, Indiana State, and Arkansas State.

Urban attends Utah practice, admits missing coaching "awful bad"

Urban Meyer returned to Utah for the very first time since stepping on the bus headed for the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, who served as Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Utah, invited the ESPN analyst to watch Spring practice on Thursday afternoon.

Meyer told The Deseret News, "I guess it's been great. I don't know. I've got a knot in my stomach right now, missing it (coaching) awful bad.”

Safties coach Morgan Scalley said, "You almost expected him to start yelling and screaming, but afterwards when he spoke to the guys it was the same ol' Urban. He knows what motivates. He knows what gets people to listen. It's good to have him back."

Interestingly, Mike Leach and Ken Niumatololo were also on hand for the practice.

The Utes open against Montana State to start the 2011 season before traveling to USC and BYU.  Utah also finishes a home-and-home series with Pitt in Week #6 when the Utes play at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Stockstill changes the practice schedule to emphasize tempo

Entering his sixth year as head coach, Rick Stockstill led MTSU through the first day of Spring practice on Wednesday afternoon.

Since arriving in Murfreesboro, Stockstill has worked with his share of offensive coordinators (GA Mangus, Tony Franklin, Mike Schultz), but has always operated out of a no-huddle offensive system.

The newest offensive coordinator, Willie Simmons, wants to stress an up tempo and attacking style.

In order to emphasize the importance of the different tempos the Blue Raiders will utilize, Stockstill has changed up the practice schedule to include a 20-play offensive script immediately following stretch.

Stockstill explained, "Usually after (stretching), we go into special teams. But we've talked all winter about trying to be the fastest team in the country. So we started off practice with, 'Hey, this is what we expect.'"

Willie Simmons told Adam Sparks of the Daily News Journal, "We are a tempo team, but within that tempo we have about five or six tempos. We want a drastic difference between our fastest tempo and our slowest tempo. It's always going to be fast, but I want a hyper-overdrive tempo.”

Here are the photos from Spring practice #1 at MTSU.

MTSU opens at Purdue before hosting Georgia Tech in week 2.  The other non-conference games are against Memphis and at Tennessee.

Tulane releases "The Playbook" for success

Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson and President Scott Cowan released The Playbook, outlining the vision for football success.

Cowan expressed a strong and renewed commitment to achieving success in football.  He also announced that Tulane is looking into options to build a new stadium.  Overall, the meeting with Tulane supports was positive and encouraging.

The last significant success at Tulane was in 1998 when Tommy Bowden led the Green Wave to a 12-0 record.  

Since the announcement, Tulane has launched TulanePlayBook.com

Cowan said, “I don’t have the patience to wait a decade. Our line of sight is football.  We are going to work as hard and long as we can to get it done.  There’s only one way I will measure success and that is wins and losses.”

“We will achieve it and do it in a reasonable time frame.”

So what are the goals?

“It’s not to have 2 winning seasons every decade.  My measure of success is winning the division and conference title every year and if we don’t, we’re trying our hardest to do that.”

“That’s not going to happen overnight.”

“We reimagined this entire university in 3 or 4 years (after Katrina), so we sure can do it for football.”

“We are looking at the possibility of playing venues.  I do think that is one piece of the puzzle that it’s going to take to be successful.”

“I don’t have all the answers tonight, but we will have answers for you shortly, and we will let you know.”

Cowan ended by stating, “Together we are going to win and it’s going to start next year.”

Larry Porter lays out goals for Spring practice

Memphis begins Spring practice today under second-year head coach Larry Porter.

Two new coaches joined the staff this off-season.  Former Utah assistant Blake Miller joined the staff as co-offensive coordinator / offensive line coach and former Arkansas – Pine Bluff assistant Jerry Mack joined the staff as wide receivers coach.  Quarterbacks coach / assistant head coach Kevin McGiven will now call the plays.

Porter said today on Sports56 in Memphis, “Offensively, it goes back to establishing continuity on the offensive line and challenging our wide receivers to be more productive. We have to have the guys that play around the quarterback be more productive than a year ago.”

“We have to have a more aggressive style of play-calling.  It won’t be completely spread, but it will be more up tempo offense and aggressive with the play-calling, and much more creative in the plays we are running.”

“Defensively, first and foremost we want to simplify things and then we must improve our tackling and third-down defense.”

Porter made sure to appease the Memphis supporters during Spring practice by announcing, “The facility is open.  We want our town to come and be around us and enjoy the day as we go to work.”

Memphis open against Mississippi State, at Arkansas State, and Austin Peay.

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