After all the hype, and all the waiting, Texas Wesleyan’s first football team in 75 years is ready to finally take the field.
The Rams will take on McPherson College in McPherson, Kan. on Saturday afternoon, and the team is practicing hard and watching film of the Bulldogs nearly every day.
“We’ve been looking at telecasts you can find on the internet,” head coach Joe Prud’homme said, “things of that nature; you know as far as any real high quality film to go off [there’s not any] and it’s also a year old. So you’re looking at it schematically personnel wise it is tough.”
McPherson, 1-10 last season, has an excellent quarter back, junior Ed Crouch, Prud’homme said.
“He’s a threat to run or throw, and if you don’t tackle him you’re in trouble,” Prud’homme said.
McPherson may not have had a good record in 2016, but the team has no shortage of good players, and the Rams are prepared, Prud’homme said.
“They’re odd-man front at times,” Prud’homme said of the Bulldogs’ defense. “They move around a lot so there’s not just a set thing they’re going to do, which is to be expected. So, as long as we can pick up and communicate and have our rules in place, we’ll be okay.”
The Rams are leaving Wesleyan Friday morning to head to Kansas; being able to spend the night in Kansas will allow the players to rest from the trip and bond together as a team, Prud’homme said.
“We just haven’t played anybody else, so that makes it different,” Prud’homme said. “Any time you play somebody different it automatically makes the team come closer together, because now they’ve got a common goal.”
The team has been focusing on themselves lately and reviewing mistakes made at practice in meetings, Prud’homme said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of self-evaluation,” he said. “I mean we film ourselves; we film practice; we have meetings on every practice. So we’ve been focusing on ourselves a little bit more than them.”
The team has been rough around the edges but it’s exciting to see it all come together, Prud’homme said.
“I think that they’ll be tremendously excited, but they’ll also be nervous,” Prud’homme said. “My hope, my goal is that they play calm and composed.”
The goal for the McPherson game is to keep calm and ultimately win, Prud’homme said.
“I do want them to play with a controlled emotion and I want them to be calm,” he said. “I think that the teams that are mature and maintain composure tend to win games at the end. That’s kind of what my goal for these guys is, that they are the kind of team that competes and puts themselves in the position to win in the fourth quarter.”
The Rams and their coaching staff really appreciate all of the support that the Wesleyan community has given the team.
“We are optimistic about our chances,” Athletic Director Steve Trachier said, “but it is an exciting time for the university. You can sense the excitement in the air that football has generated.”
Football is going to be a very good thing for Texas Wesleyan, he said.
Redshirt freshman running back Davonte Mitchell-Dixon said the Rams are reviewing film of the Bulldogs to prepare for their non-traditional defense.
“Some techniques and stuff they use their defense is a little different than a 4-3 defense,” he said. “We’ve been trying to get ready for them specifically.”
The team watches two hours of film three or four days out of the week to correct mistakes and get prepared for the upcoming game, Mitchell-Dixon said.
“So in a film session we pretty much go over what we did at the practice we did in the morning,” Mitchell-Dixon said. “So we’ll go through team during practice in the morning and if you had any mistakes or problems adjusting to what we were doing they’ll go over tips and how to fix what you did.”
The team has been running after every practice to stay in shape and prevent injuries throughout the season, said Mitchell-Dixon, a mass communication major.
“It’s just an ongoing thing so at practice we get like a four-minute break to get water, get situated and then back doing drills and drills and drills,” Mitchell-Dixon said.
The team takes minimal breaks at practice to get used to the fast pace of a real game, he said.
“For a new team, I think we’re ready,” Mitchell-Dixon said. “I don’t think we’re going to have the outcome every other team thinks we’re going to be having. I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. I think we’re going to have a really good season this year.”
The defense has been studying a lot of McPherson’s plays and creating new plays to make sure they know what to do in each situation, cornerback Warren Coltong said.
“We’ve been doing team install, really going over what [McPherson’s] offense is going to be doing like what routes the receivers are going to be running, what linebackers are going to blitz, and which holes there are going to be,” said Coltong a redshirt freshman mass communication major.
Overall, the team feels ready to compete and is ready to see their hard work pay off, Coltong said.
“I feel like our coaches are putting us in the best position to win, and hopefully, our game plan works,” Coltong said.
The game will be streamed via ramsports.net; go to the schedule, find the McPherson game, and click watch.