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UWF Kicks Off Football Practices

John Blackie
University of West Florida

Eighteen months after being hired to start the University of West Florida’s football program, Head Coach Pete Shinnick leads his team into fall practice on Thursday, after meetings and a walkthrough on Tuesday and Wednesday.

As has been said many times before, 2015 is a practice and redshirt year. The inaugural season begins in September of 2016, in Naples against Ave Maria University. Speaking at the first football media day last week, Shinnick said they’ll have a bit of a variation in schedule when they take the field on Thursday.

“We have to have a five-day acclamation period, which is two days of helmets, two days o shoulder pads before you can get into full pads,” said Shinnick. “We’ve extended that. We’re going to go three days in helmet, three days in half-pads. But we are going to come out on day one, and start playing football.” We’ve got to get this group ready for 2016.”

This is the second football program that Shinnick has begun from scratch, the first being at North Carolina-Pembroke in 2007. He said that experience has been “huge” in building the UWF program, because a lot of issues that arise have already been anticipated. The number one thing, he says, is patience.

“We’ve got to understand that the first time we say something is the first time that [the players] have heard it,” Shinnick said. “A lot of teaching, a lot of coaching that’s going to go on. Be patient in that process.”

As far as the X’s and O’s, the fall will be spend installing the Argonaut offensive and defensive schemes. Jamie Deese is the Offensive Coordinator, and is promising what he calls an “up tempo” attack that boils down to the three S’s: speed, space and simplicity.

“We want to go at high speed to tire out the defense, to make them play sideline to sideline,” said Deese. “Get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands as quick as possible.”

And on the other side of the ball – that’s Defensive Coordinator O. C. Williams’ jurisdiction. The Argonauts will run a base 3-4 with three down linemen and four linebackers – to create what he calls “simple, fast chaos.”

“Simple – don’t want to overthink things, so we can allow those kids to play fast,” said Williams. “Then the ‘chaos’ part for the offense – it will look like chaos [to them] but it’s organized chaos for us.”

One plus at UWF, says Head Coach Pete Shinnick, is that everyone here – players, coaches, support staff -- has a clean slate going into fall camp.

“And everyone is going to listen and hear what we have and we have an opportunity to establish that immediately,” Shinnick said. So there are no prior expectations and we aren’t overcoming two or three years of someone else’s coaching.”

The Argos will practice for three weeks before the first intra-squad scrimmage of the season – September 12 on campus. Four other scrimmages are planned, including one on October 17 at Bayfront Stadium – the team’s home for at least its first two seasons.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.