His wise-guy Jersey delivery might mislead some to believe that Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis is capable of talking without first thinking of the impact of his words, such as when he called Bradley McDougald, “as good a player as we have on the team, maybe the best,” after Saturday’s game.
Consider the impact those words had on McDougald before determining whether Weis wanted him to hear them.
“It’s definitely an honor, especially coming from coach Weis,” McDougald said after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously, when something like that is said, a lot of your teammates around you are looking at you.”
For what? Leadership.
“I tried to tell coaches I wasn’t a vocal leader, but they didn’t want to hear me,” McDougald said. “They told me I’m the safety, and I’m a chirper back there. I have to get the calls in. I have to communicate with different guys, so there is no way I couldn’t be vocal. Then when you have coach giving me compliments the way he did, that kind of adds another inch of leadership to me.”
Weis added responsibility to McDougald by saying what he said, and the senior from Dublin, Ohio, will try harder to live up to expectations because Weis called him out as “maybe the best” player on the team.
Weis knew he didn’t have to worry about the compliment turning McDougald conceited because that’s not the safety’s personality. McDougald knows where the praise starts for his two interceptions.
“Most definitely the credit belongs to what’s going on up front,” McDougald said. “The interception I caught on the sidelines, Keba (Agostinho) forces pressure up the middle, makes the quarterback roll out to my direction. The second one, the quarterback has to get the ball out fast. It was his first throw since he came back into the game. He had some pressure in his face, threw it a little too high, was hit, it was tipped, and I caught it.”
Weis singled out McDougald, and McDougald singled out Agostinho.
“Keba’s definitely a problem for the offensive lineman,” McDougald said. “From spring to camp, he’s just been getting better. He’s bigger, stronger. Keba’s grown immensely, not only body size, but mentally as well. I think Keba’s starting to get his groove.”
He meant as a football player, not a singer of the alma mater. The players earned an “A” for effort but not for performance in enacting their coach’s new postgame orders, to head to the sideline and sing the alma mater to the student section.
“We all can’t sing,” McDougald said. “Nobody can sing. We butchered that. We butchered that song. I’m not going to lie to you.”
As long as Agostinho and friends can apply the pressure and McDougald and mates can capitalize on the mistakes of hurried quarterbacks, nobody will care to grade their singing.