By Matt Noonan
Here is the second part of our conversation with Williams College head coach Aaron Kelton on the Ephs outlook for the upcoming season, as well as various moments and games from last year, which he’s used as teaching tools to help his squad prepare for a successful 2012 campaign.
On keeping the guys focused before their first game against Colby: “We don’t sugarcoat that we play late and what I tell them is go watch the games on Thursday, Friday, [and] Saturday while we’re in camp and once we get out of meetings. I tell them that because that makes them hungrier [for our first game] and kind of motivated. And then the other part is you keep them busy. If you keep them busy then they’re mind isn’t on who’s playing [on the weekends], but what they have to do next, so I try to keep their mind focused on other things.”
On the team’s four consecutive wins last season: “There really were [some positives from those games] and what we did was created some different competitions in practice that were installed in the preseason, which helped to motivate us again. It was right around that stretch that we started to get onto our regular game practice field, so it allowed us to be able to do some things and practice the way that we’re used to practicing, and then really it was just about the guys focusing in – both the staff and the players – and getting the job done. We had tough stretch at the beginning of the year. The middle of the year, we played pretty well and then we struggled [against Amherst College]. For us it was a focus and an execution thing. If you looked at our statistics in those games in that little stretch that we went on, we weren’t turning the ball over, we weren’t giving up big plays, we were doing all those things that we were supposed to do and have fewer mistakes. And that’s what we’re going to try and cut down on the mistakes. We know we’re going to be younger, but we’ll try and throttle it back a little bit and make sure that they’re sure of their assignments and then go play.”
On what the team learned from the Amherst game: “I’ve watched it a couple of times just to try and break down [the film]. We’re always trying to work and get better in our profession, so I look at instances in the game and situations of what we could have done that may have helped us to be a little bit more successful and we’re just trying to learn from [our mistakes]. It was a bitter feeling for those seniors who were leaving and for our team, but coming into this year we’re using it as a motivation tool. We’ll turn it around and find all the great points from that game and talk about some of those in the preseason, but our focus has got to be on our team right now, making sure that we’re doing our assignments and then it’s Colby [College]. Last year is last year, we talk about it, and I stress the lack of success that we had in our program, and for our guys, I want them to feel motivated and positive about what we’re [going] to be able to do this season, so we’ll focus on this year and the guys who’re here and try to make Williams College and our faculty and staff and our students and alumni proud for having a great year.”
On what makes the NESCAC such an exciting football conference: “The fun part about it is that we have some of the brightest student-athletes in the country, who have very rigorous academic challenges that these schools put on them, and then they go out and give everything that they can to support and represent their school. The fact that it is an eight-week season means every game counts. You only get 32 games in your career, so you’ve got to go out and make the most of that situation. And then there’s a lot of parody because there’s a lot of young men that different teams have looked at and many of these different schools have opportunities for them to get an education, so they’re all aware of the coaches and the other players in general, so they have some connection in the recruiting process, so that makes it extremely interesting as well. It’s great football, it’s guys who’re passionate about this game and it’s coaches that are really invested in their futures, both as student athletes and as working professionals.”