“New Look, New Attitude, New Results!”
This is the message posted on the back of Knox’s spring football t-shirt.
The first part simply describes the fact that the team will feature new uniforms and helmet stripes next season, but the second two have taken on a much deeper meaning.
After the gun sounded on a 42-6 loss to arch rival Monmouth in the season finale last year, head coach Chad Eisele knew something needed to change.
“One thing that we all felt is that they wore us down as the game went on,” Eisele said, “and though we don’t base our entire season off of that, it was definitely something we need to address in this offseason. Our new attitude has really been seen by our guys working hard in the weight room, and working to become more physical.”
The attitude has translated on to field, where for the second year the Prairie Fire has been able to hold spring practice. And though NCAA rules prevent the team from using any other equipment than footballs, Eisele feels that these past two weeks have been invaluable.
“It’s been really nice here at Knox working under trimesters, because we’ve had players from spring sports return to practice with us. Baseball players had two weeks and track guys had a week, so as a whole, the team got back into the swing of things. This makes the process of getting the team together in the fall much easier,” Eisele said.
Getting the team to gel will also be easier since Knox returns nine starters on offense and eight starters on defense. The only position in which Knox will have to absorb serious losses is at the offensive line, where three spots have opened up due to graduating seniors. Eisele understands this issue, and hit the recruiting trail hard to address it.
“In terms of the offensive line, we had of lot of success recruiting solid players. We feel that there are four to six kids that could help us immediately and ultimately down the road. We have also got a few defensive players that will make an impact, so we are pretty excited,” Eisele said.
But recruiting aside, Eisele knows it ultimately comes down to results.
“Nobody wins or loses a starting job in the spring. We have new expectations, and it comes down to winning. We haven’t had success in recent years, and we can’t have any more excuses. We plan to hit the ground running in the fall,” Eisele said.
Knox players return on August 15 for the first full pad workouts of the season, three weeks before the season and home opener against Washington University on September 3.