His beard alone tells you he means business.
It’s almost Biblical.
But judging by the way he spoke at a press conference Tuesday in Logan, there’s more to Kevin Whimpey’s leadership style than mere facial hair. The Utah State senior offensive lineman speaks with the straightforwardness of a steel beam and the intensity of a laser beam.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the game we wanted to have,” he said, referring to Sunday’s 38-7 beatdown at Tennessee. “We got out-executed on both sides of the ball. I think we need to come in with a better mental mindset. I think the coaches prepared us the right way to be able to go in there and be successful. We believed we’d go in there and be successful, but it wasn’t our night.”
Those comments are strong, solid and no-nonsense, just like the man himself. Granted, they’re not flashy but as you might expect, neither is Whimpey.
He added this, looking ahead to this weekend’s home game vs. Idaho State.
“There are some things that we need to clean up. There is some good in the film (from the Tennessee game) as well as a lot of bad,” he said. “Those things will get fixed as we get ready for this week. We’re excited to get back to work, we’re excited to come out and play in front of our home crowd and we’re excited to get this team on track to play for and win the Mountain West Championship.”
Not to belabor the point here, but while Whimpey’s words don’t exactly sizzle, they push forward like a bulldozer and they finish with a pop.
I know, I know. We live in a world where bombastic, splashy comments sell everything from newspapers, to web hits to season tickets, gameday programs and alumni T-shirts in the campus bookstore. Sorry, but if you’re looking for that, look somewhere else. Whimpey’s words reflect the football culture in Logan.
Beard and all, he’s a metaphor for the Aggies’ team.
“The kid epitomizes a lot of what this program is built on -- hard work and effort,” coach Matt Wells said. “He’s got a blue-collar mentality. He does all of the extra things. He’s a football junkie. He’s a solid student and has already graduated. He’s a young man who is a great husband and soon-to-be father. He just cares. His care factor is off the charts.”
Under Wells, the Aggies are, on a good day, about as frivolous as a Mathew Brady Civil War photograph. On the heels of the Tennessee loss, their LOL-factor was set somewhere between “don’t mess with me” and “feelin’ lucky, punk?”
They’ve got the Bengals coming in on Saturday, wish them luck. They’ll need it.
Last week they visited Salt Lake City to open the 2014 season and were spanked by the Utes, 56-14.
ISU is back in Utah and the Aggies will be ready.
“The biggest thing for us is focusing on and getting ourselves better to come out and do whatever we can to get this taste out of our mouth,” said Whimpey, who began his career at ISU.
Getting back to the Tennessee game for a moment …
“I use visualization before games and that was not anything close to what I saw happening on Sunday night,” Whimpey said. “I thought we were more prepared, I thought we were ready to execute, and I thought we were more physical and those things just didn’t happen. The 38 to 7 loss is something that I’ve never dealt with at this program. It just gives me the resolve to want to do more.”
So, who was to blame for that loss? Was it Wells and his coaching staff? Did they fail to prepare the Aggies for what to expect?
“We’ll take all the blame, it was all on (the offensive line),” Whimpey said, not smiling.
Maybe so, maybe not. At this point, however, I’m not willing to argue with him and I doubt anyone else is either.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo