Texas Wesleyan’s football team is ready.
Ready to play in front of fans. Ready to tackle. And ready to figure out who the team’s leaders will be.
Ready, in other words, for April 22 and the Blue & Gold Game, an intrasquad scrimmage at Farrington Field that head coach Joe Prud’homme says is the apex of the team’s spring workouts.
“Everything we’re doing is kind of geared towards that,” Prud’homme said. “You know, just base offense, base defense and then just trying to have a real good scrimmage.”
There will not be any special teams participating in the scrimmage because they are still perfecting those skills, Prud’homme said.
“[I’m] trying to give everybody pretty much an equal amount of playing time [at the scrimmage] just so we can get everybody evaluated and look at them to give everybody a real shot,” Prud’homme said.
The competitive nature of the players keeps them sharp, Prud’homme said. The competitiveness encourages them to work harder and be better.
“There’s no getting lackadaisical or complacent,” Prud’homme said, “which is great if you’ve got that going in practices all the time and in game situations you do nothing but get better and better and better. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The spring game will be a great tool to help the coaches evaluate the players and identify areas to improve, Prud’homme said.
“We’re excited,” Prud’homme said. “I’m very pleased with their effort and I’m real happy with all the support. Everybody just seems to be ready to see some football and we’re ready to do it as well.”
The men’s basketball team winning the NAIA national championship set an amazing example that Prud’homme hopes to model the football program after.
“They won because they out-willed the other team; they outlasted the other team; they out-toughed the other team,” he said. “They played great defense. They did all the little things and intangibles that you have to do to win. And they did that from the beginning of preseason all the way through their season. The way they just came together and trusted each other. They just basically wanted it worse than anybody else.”
Many of the football players are in “survival mode” but they become more confident in their abilities the chemistry will become even better than it is now, Prud’homme said.
“You kind of feel that piece coming together,” Prud’homme said. “But also, you get to that point when you know exactly what you’re doing on the field to where there’s no hesitation. Then you get stronger in those other areas.”
The team is not only preparing for the spring game, Prud’homme said. They are also trying to install all of the basic skills the team will need to have for a successful season this fall.
“Some people probably think that football is a situation where you just learn it and you do it and that’s what you do,” Prud’homme said. “There’s a lot of things that can change when you come to the line of scrimmage. There’s a lot of things that change between when you take that first step and that second step. All of a sudden things change and you’ve got to be able to adjust and learn to communicate that.”
There is a lot of communication involved on and off the field that the fans don’t always see but is necessary to the game, Prud’homme said.
“There’s a learning curve involved and their attitudes are great,” Prud’homme said. “They’re very positive. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.”
Justin Arth, freshman quarterback, said the team misses being in front of a crowd and all the excitement that goes along with game day.
“I’m looking forward to making plays against this defense,” said Arth, a business management major.
The players are excited to get back to full hitting and testing their abilities in a game setting not just in practice, Arth said.
“These guys hit hard. We saw it a little bit today, it being the first day in pads, but we’re ready for it,” Arth said at the end of March, right after the team’s first practice in pads.
The players are working hard in practice by “thudding” instead of full-on tackling so that they can prevent injuries, Arth said.
“Thudding is basically wrapping up with light contact when we are in pads. It’s not full-on hitting and tackling, but it’s still contact,” Arth wrote in a text message.
The team is preparing by working on base offense and defense plays and incorporating seven-on-seven in practices to instill confidence in the players, Arth said.
“I mean we’ve gotta be confident in ourselves and confident in our abilities,” Arth said. “And have that confidence that kind of spreads over to everybody and raises their game up as we step up our game too.”
Freshman middle linebacker Dewaun Colbert said the team cannot wait to step out onto the field and be able to go full speed and tackle again in front of a game-day crowd.
“I mean that’s me. I love to be in the spotlight,” Colbert said. “I love the crowd and all the fans and everything.”
Colbert said he uses his natural confidence to inspire his teammates to play better and challenge themselves.
“That’s one of the reasons I chose to play middle linebacker, because it’s the captain of the defense,” Colbert said. “And I like to run things and be the center of attention. Not to be too cocky but that’s just me.”
The team hopes to use the scrimmage as a way to find out who the leaders of the team are really going to be, Colbert said.
“I’m looking forward to being live and actually being able to hit because right now we’ve just been thudding up. So in the spring game, it’s gonna be a good time to see what guys really have that defensive mentality that go and get the ball,” Colbert said.
There will be several activities before and after the scrimmage, including a pre-game cookout on campus, pre-game events held by Student Life at Farrington Field, Alma Mater and fight song practice, and autographs from the players and coaches on the field after the scrimmage. For more information go to txwes.edu.