Two weeks until the season opener and Western Illinois football coach Jared Elliott is seeing his squad make strides as it gets ready to open the 2019 campaign at North Alabama.
The Leathernecks ended practice Thursday with the offense getting the better of the defense, but Elliott was happy once again with what he saw on both sides of the ball.
“I’m pleased, I think we had another spirited practice today, I think that’s one thing I’m really proud of, there’s been a really, high competitive level every single day and it’s not only in our individual work but really setting the tone for practice but it also carries over to our teams, there’s been a lot of give and take throughout camp, which is what you like to see,” the coach said. 
As camp winds down, the staff is starting to make those key decisions as to what the squad will look like at North Alabama, but there is still much work to be done. 
“It’s been good, we’re still in that process as a team, now it’s focusing on our execution and consistency,” Elliott said. “But we’re kind of at the point where we’ve identified a lot of guys and what their role is going to be at this point, so I’ve been very pleased to this point.”
As far as what still needs to happen to cement a starting role or spot on the two-deep, or for Elliott to feel truly comfortable, there was one word the coach repeated throughout the day: consistency.
“Consistency is one of the most important factors to the game of football, who can go out, do their job and execute at a high level on an every down and every snap basis,” he said. “That’s where, whether it’s an individual player or an offensive, defensive or special teams unit, just stringing one, two, three or four plays in a row isn’t good enough, it has to be every single time. We try to set the bar high and make sure our guys chase perfection.”
On Thursday, it was the offense that met that standard, with the first unit stringing together a pair of strong drives to end the day.
It was a big step for the offense, which has had trouble against the Western defense throughout camp.
“I think every team reaches a point hopefully they do and I feel like we have, when you’re in camp and your offense starts to click and you find a rhythm,” the coach said. “The offense is so much about rhythm and being in sync and getting 11 guys to do a job together in harmony. We’re starting to see that, we finished out the day really well. 
“Our defense needed to finish better today, you have to finish strong and start strong and that’s the message for today for every unit. There’s good lessons to learn as we continue to mature.”
For Elliott the defense has been strong throughout the summer, so there would be no worries about the group.
“We’re kind of in that process, this last week, like most teams your defense will start ahead of your offense, it’s a process to merge it, for us we have a lot of new faces, but now I’m starting to see that and that’s been fun, to see the offense and defense competing in these team sets,” Elliott said. “You see good plays both sides of the ball, guys battling on the line of scrimmage, guys battling for the ball, so I’ve been pleased even though we still have work to do.”