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Date Posted: 10:36:32 08/07/03 Thu
Author: Starter
Subject: Two-a-days begin today

Leathernecks put on full gear in last one-a-day practice
August 6, 2003
by Shana Daniels

MACOMB, Ill.— Western Illinois football dawned full gear for its final practice of the acclimatization period required by the NCAA before two-a-day practices begin Thursday morning.

“Today marks the end of our acclimatization period,” said Leatherneck football head coach Don Patterson. “We have five days set aside where we have one workout per day and today is the first day that we went into full pads. I thought it was a very spirited workout. The one-a-day rule does give our guys who aren’t quite in shape to get a little better in shape before they get too stressed from the two-a-day workouts.”

“We start twice-a-day workouts tomorrow and I think the players are excited about it. It’s the way they remember football. If today is any indication of how they are going to practice tomorrow, then we have no reason to worry about their intensity level for tomorrow’s practice. They are highly motivated. We have had really worthwhile meetings in conjunction with practice and I see no reason for anything other than optimism for what we can accomplish this year.”

Western Illinois is 22 days away from kicking off the 2003 campaign with Wayne State under the lights at Hanson Field on August 28.

“Our ability to throw and catch a football would have to be given high marks right now,” continued Patterson. “We’ve got a good group of experience receivers. Russ Michna has looked very sharp through all of his workouts. Jared Burks has without question improved from last spring. The summer workouts have really helped him. Steve LaFalce looks very promising and our freshman quarterback (Matt O’Toole) looks good. So it’s a good situation to be in at quarterback. I feel very comfortable with the signal callers that we have this season.”

“At receiver, Terrance Hall and Reggie Gray have picked up from where they left off in the spring time. They are both accomplished players from a year ago and I think you’ll see even better players this fall from what they were a year ago. Beyond that one new guy that has also been very impressive in the passing game has been James Norris, who transferred from LA Valley Community College. David Akers is also another guy who looks really good and another guy we can count on, along with Marco Thomas, a red-shirt freshman with four year remaining, has also looked very promising in our early workouts.

“I feel that our receiving corps has got to be a team strength for us. I feel all five of those guys will play well this fall. Certainly the quarterbacks are going to give a good account of themselves too and it all starts with Russ.”

The Leathernecks take on their first of two practices Thursday at 8:40 a.m. on the practice fields behind Brophy Hall.

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