Kennesaw State keeping football players focused

Head Coach Brian Bohannon and his staff put the team through a 90-minute practice in which the team strapped on gear for the first time.

Credit: Kennesaw State University

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Head Coach Brian Bohannon and his staff put the team through a 90-minute practice in which the team strapped on gear for the first time.

Credit: Kennesaw State University

Credit: Kennesaw State University

With glory-day games still a year away, Kennesaw State football coach Brian Bohannon is doing everything he can to keep his players’ competitive juices flowing through the dryness of months of practices and conditioning.

Bohannon and his staff have come up with three things to keep the 86 freshmen on the team focused and believing in the process of improvement. The goal is that when the team plays its inaugural game at East Tennessee State on Sept. 3, the players will remember how to beat the men in front of them.

First, the players are divided into four teams and compete to earn points during a series of activities. Second, there is the scrimmage Oct. 11 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Third, the coaches mix up things during the day to keep players on their toes.

The ideas seem to be working.

“I don’t know what the curve is, but I believe we are ahead of it, based upon practice No. 9 on Monday,” Bohannon said. “If you came out here and didn’t know any better, I don’t think you’d know this was practice No. 9 in the history of the program.”

The competition, based upon the “Win the Day” theme that Bohannon and his staff stress daily, is the biggest piece.

The players were randomly placed on one of the four teams: named Amigos, Cobra, IDGT (I Don’t Get Tired) and Bird Gang.

“The players picked the names,” Bohannon said with a smile and shake of the head.

Each team can win points based upon their community service, making an A in a class, meeting with a professor and getting a positive grade for hustling or making a play in practice. Points can be taken away for negative action. No points are given if a player simply does what he is supposed to do.

At the end of the semester, each player on the team with the most points will receive gifts such as a jump suit, shoes, hat and/or gift cards.

“It’s tough, but coaches have done a great job with the Win the Day competition,” said Chandler Burks, a member of the second-place Cobras, which trails the Amigos. “It’s been a really competitive atmosphere, in the classroom, on the field and off the field.”

Bohannon said the idea for the competition came from a staff meeting and is based upon the ideas that the strength-and-conditioning coaches use to keep the players motivated during offseason workouts.

Within the competition is an acronym that the coaches use to motivate players: E.A.T., for effort, attitude and toughness. Each position coach teaches four priority skills. If the players have effort, attitude and toughness, in combination with working on their skills, Bohannon said they have won the day.

“We compete every day and have extra motivation to get us going,” safety Taylor Henkle said.

Still, some of the players say it is tough on Saturdays to turn on the TV and see other teams.

Others miss the games, but said they also understand the importance of this year’s practices. Running back Jae Bowen sees the progress, saying when the players started, nervousness was evident. Now, the players see progress.

“Guys really want to play, but we need to build chemistry, and the guys need to play together first and actually be good,” linebacker Dez Billingslea said. “We need to practice hard for next year when the games come around.”

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