THE BATTLE FIELD, Grunt Nation – Who was that guy on the sidelines wearing a Grunts headset Tuesday night, stifling the Cold Hard Truth for 16 turns, tying the Season 2 Champs with apparent ease, shrugging off blocks with masterful tackles and dispensing maximum injuries?
Even Preach admits it wasn’t the same guy who coached the past two seasons for the Grunts with lingering effects of not making a bowl game and a $150-million one-year contract on his shoulders.
“Obviously, we’re in a better place than we were last year coming into the season,” Preach said after tying the Cold Hard Truth 1-1 to finish a two-game, season-opening winning streak.
“Last year was so different, and there was a lot of hype involved around the team, and a lot of expectations for the Grunts,” he said. “And you try to go out there the first game and I think live up to those expectations all at once as opposed to just letting the season play out and go through your 7, 8 games and see where you’re at, at the end.”
Still pressured from the first season he entered last season posting a 3-5 record.
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“Physically, mentally, all that stuff, we’re light years ahead of where we were last year at this point,” said Preach, who’s team didn’t miss a single opportunity to capitalize on the Champs and only allowed one touchdown.
This time around, he’s clearly more settled into his surroundings, one of his best friends, newly acquired Leeroy Jenkins, at his side most of the time they’re off the pitch.
Owner and Grunt Warchief Thrall said Preach’s character and, consequently, his motivation of the team have been better since winter than the Warchief saw at any time last season (though Preach said he stumbled a bit on Tuesday).
And if he’s going to coach that way from the start this season – the way he did Tuesday – then the Grunt’s big hopes for this season might be getting even bigger. Even with last season’s struggles, Preach finished Season 2 with a motivating win.
“Aftah de Gruntz more ball this day…it was sad..I wuz, ‘Orcs! That wuz good play more than last play,'” said troll Slim Pickens, who provided ample support most of the game. “Wez dun gooder.”
Preach, whose next game comes in the Grunt’s opener next week, is much more confident than last year at this time because he’s more relaxed, said Thrall and players such as Jenkins.
Preach added one more reason for the difference: Late season issues last year caused “bad habits” that the team struggled to overcome.
“This year I feel more like we’ve come together as a team,” said the three season veteran coach. “We’re able to repeat our plays more. The opposition is on the pitch a lot more. We’re able to fix the mistakes the next turn as opposed to three or four turns later.”
“The frustration of that is gone, and now we can just worry about what the scouting report is and what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to execute as opposed to all these other outside distractions…and all this other BS. We can just go out and worry about the game.”