March 11, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- Head coach Bill Clark and his staff will take to the practice field for the first time at UAB this week as the Blazers open spring drills Wednesday.
The Blazers will hold the first of 15 spring sessions Wednesday under the guidance of Clark, who was introduced as UAB's new head coach on Jan. 22.
Clark, who came to UAB after a record-breaking season at Jacksonville State's program in 2013, has experienced success at every step of his coaching career.
After leading Jacksonville State to its most wins since 1992 and a top 10 final national FCS ranking last fall, Clark is eager to get on the field with the Blazers this week. He said the first thing he'll look at is how the players react to the pace of practice.
"Just getting ready to handle that pace and tempo is going to be interesting for them," said Clark. "That's the first thing we have to see. I think we have accomplished a lot in the weight room and with our speed work, but from a being in shape standpoint for the way we practice, you're never totally ready for that. But I think our strength staff, with the speed work they've done, has gotten them (the players) ready for this as much as they can be. I'm excited to see how they handle it."
Clark said the team will have several players missing or limited during spring drills due to injury rehab, but he has been pleased with the progress in that area.
"We came in with a lot of guys banged up and injured," he said. "We've come back from almost 30 guys being out when we got here in January. When you're talking about 30 guys sitting out, and now it's down to 10, that's exciting. We're going to have some guys we'll have to hold out. We're going to let them do as much as they can."
One unit that Clark noted will be particularly limited is on the offensive line where the Blazers lost two senior starters (Billy Autrey and Kaycee Ike) from last season and have other players coming back from injuries.
Clark and his coaches will spend a lot of time evaluating during the spring. "Every position is wide open," he said. "Next spring, we'll know these guys a lot better. That doesn't mean we haven't looked at film. You have to go in with a first group, but we're looking at every position."
Clark relishes the coaching aspect that spring practice offers. "I don't know any coach worth his salt that doesn't love spring," he said. "This is why you got into coaching. You get to teach, you get to compete and you get to coach ball. Yet, there's not the pressure of that Saturday competition. Now the Saturday competition, that's what makes the game what it is. That's the reason it is so great, but from a pure football standpoint, this is fun."
Clark and the Blazers will culminate spring practice at the Spring Game on Friday night, April 18 at West Campus Field.
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