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UWF Football Preps for 2019

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Spring football practice kicked off this week at the University of West Florida, with 97 players suiting up to get ready for the program’s fourth season.

Fourteen workouts over a four week period are being held at Pen Air Field on campus, with the Blue-Green Spring Game set for Thursday evening, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. The practices are open to the public. Head Coach Pete Shinnick says spring is a time to answer some questions and tinker a bit.

“To find out who can play at a high level for you; number two, you want to take a look at different things – offensively, defensively, on special teams,” Shinnick said. “It’s an opportunity to experiment and be right or wrong, just depending on how it plays out.”

UWF went 6-5 overall last season and 4-4 in the Gulf South Conference, missing the playoffs. But Shinnick says there aren’t any real changes to what they want to do in the spring related to that.

“The ‘change’ would be the urgency of our guys understanding how important every play is, and how close they were in 2018 and where they want to be in ’19,” said Shinnick.

With the transfer of starting quarterback, Mike Beaudry and the graduation of Sam Vaughn – who started after Beaudry was injured last year – the position is up for grabs among four candidates. The lack of a clear starter, for UWF, has become one of the rites of spring.

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
UWF Head Football Coach Pete Shinnick.

“Caleb Nobles transferred in the first year, he was competing with Mike Beaudry and Grey Jackson,” said Shinnick. “And then Caleb graduated and Beaudry, Grey, and Kalu [Onumah] were competing. And then last year with Beaudry out. I think every spring we’ve had a pretty good competition at quarterback, and we’re going to keep rotating [repetitions] and see what takes place.”

Of the 97 players out this spring, 27 were on the offensive, defensive and special teams depth charts in 2018.  Besides who lines up behind center, Shinnick and his staff are also looking at other areas.

“Right now, you’re establishing order and you’re establishing who’s on the first team, who’s on the second team, who’s on the third team,” Shinnick says. “Every position has an opportunity for guys to step up, take advantage of what’s taking place.”

UWF opens the 2019 season with two road games – Carson-Newman and Shorter. Shinnick was asked if he considered that a blessing or a curse.

“Probably somewhere in between,” said the Coach. “Every year [is] dictated by what you can negotiate and who you can get on the schedule. I think we’re always going to be a team that’s looking for games; with that, we’ll play anybody anywhere.”

The Argonauts have won 22 games in the program’s first three seasons – and was runner-up in the Division-2 national championship game in 2017. One goal says Head Coach Pete Shinnick, is taking advantage of the experiences and the lessons learned from the first three seasons.

“I think there’s a great understanding of what our best football looks like and what we’re capable of doing,” says Shinnick. “And that’s really the theme and the mantra that we’re trying to sell to our guys: ‘this is what our best looks like; this is who we are, this is how we do it.’ Now we’ve got to do that all the time.”

After the Blue-Green game, it's back to the classroom and training facilities for the Argonauts until fall camp opens in August. West Florida will begin adding 2019 to the resume on Thursday, September 5 against Carson-Newman in Jefferson City, Tennessee. The home opener at Blue Wahoos Stadium is Saturday, September 21 against Virginia-Lynchburg.