Effort has Pirates excited for gridiron return
GEORGETOWN – Where do you start when you haven't played a football game in over 60 years?
That is the question tasked to head football coach Joe Austin and his staff. On August 13, Austin and the Pirate coaching staff welcomed more than 100 student-athletes to campus as Southwestern University football was officially revived.
Southwestern University will be one of 11 schools to field a football team either for the first time or by reinstituting the program this fall. The main difference however, Southwestern is the lone program that resides in the football hungry state of Texas.
When the Pirates take the field September 7 against Texas Lutheran there will be a winner and loser. Despite the outcome the first season of Pirate football will not be judged by the scoreboard.
"Getting better every day and constant improvement is our number one goal," Austin said who helped turnaround a Hanover College football team that won just two games prior to his arrival. "We want to continue to get better and some weekends how well we play may not be reflected by the final score."
With limited college game experience on the field, the Pirates will lean on effort and development. Austin compares Southwestern's first season in 2013 to the academic side of campus.
"We look at the season as 10 report cards," Austin said. "We want to get better every game. Our staff will look and see what direction we are heading on a weekly basis as individuals and as a program. The roster most likely will change every week. Players that see lots of playing time early may not be the same ones on the field in game 10."
Not only has fall camp produced great effort but the ability to quickly learn the offensive and defensive schemes has impressed the Pirate coaching staff. Regardless of seasons played most fall camps see their defense shine early in practice; however, the Pirates have picked up Austin's high tempo offense and have coaches excited about the learning curve.
"These guys are very intelligent. They have all learned quickly," Austin said. "Not only do our guys want to give effort and fight for positions, but they are picking up our playbook. It makes these guys really fun to coach."
Fans can expect a fast paced offense from the Pirates in Austin's first season at the helm. As he continues to preach tempo in practice he cautions that Southwestern will not be the fastest team in college football however.
After helping set offensive records as the offensive coordinator at the University of Dubuque and on the offensive staff at NCAA-II Concordia-St. Paul the Pirate offense is in more than capable hands to put points on the scoreboard. Austin feels as though the depth developed at wide receiver will help the Pirates reach the end zone.
"Offensively we are really strong at our skill positions. Wide receiver we feel really good about and maybe as much as any position," Austin said. "Colten Shea returns as a member of our first class and teamed with Tanner Snow and Brandon Fieischmann that group can be pretty dynamic."
"Our running back core is also extremely deep. With as many players that we will have rotating it's a good problem to have obviously. Two returners, Dillon Wilburn and Codey Mann have helped step up as leaders and Tate Taylor helps solidify our backfield."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Pirates will look to their front line to help create space for their linebackers. After working together at Hanover, Austin and defensive coordinator Tom Ross have helped develop a scheme that has the defense even with the offense as fall camp comes to a close.
"We are going to lean heavily on our ends. They are going to be important pieces to helping get the defense off the field," Austin said. "Justin Broussard has impressed us and has been a playmaker during camp. Justin Powers and Alex Tyson will also help on the interior as Tyson is one of our original players. He has also stepped up as a leader on defense."
Austin hopes if his Pirates have taken anything away from camp its effort and fundamentals. Although the Pirates boast one of the youngest teams in college football the rollercoaster ride is sure to be fun. One of the largest takeaways fans will be able to see on Saturday's is that Southwestern football will grow, not just on the field but off the field as well.
"If we can give 100 percent and be fundamentally sound the outcome of the game will take care of itself," Austin said. "Pirate football is about being leaders not just on the field, but in the classroom and the community. If constant improvement is our number one goal, we want our student-athletes to apply that in their everyday life."