Tech Tidbits: Welcome to ATU’s 108th Football Season

2023 Arkansas Tech Football Team
Photographed: the 2023 Arkansas Tech University football team.

As Arkansas Tech University prepares to begin the 2023 football season on Thursday, Aug. 31, the leader of the Wonder Boys sees a team that deserves the success that is within its grasp.

“We have a lot of guys who have bought in to being here,” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “There have been a lot of times when it would have been easy for guys to leave, but they haven’t done it. They love Arkansas Tech and they love what we’re doing as a program. I’m excited to see, as a team, how we do. I’ve seen very little selfishness in this team. I’m excited about that because if you are unselfish, care about each other and are willing to fight for each other, I think great things happen.”

Arkansas Tech will face Oklahoma Baptist University for a 7 p.m. Great American Conference contest at Crain Family Stadium in Shawnee, Okla., on Thursday. Live coverage on KCJC 102.3 FM, the EAB Media Group app and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The Wonder Boys were 5-6 overall in 2022, continuing the improvement that saw them progress from three wins in 2019 to four wins in 2021 (there was no season in 2020 due to the pandemic).

Taking the next steps — posting Arkansas Tech’s first winning football season since 2017 and competing for its first football conference championship since 1999 — will require improvement on defense. The Wonder Boys ranked among the bottom three teams in the GAC in total defense each of the last three seasons.

Kendrick Van Ackeren was hired as ATU’s new defensive coordinator in the off-season.

“Our level of accountability is higher, especially on the defensive side of the ball with the things that Coach Van Ackeren is doing,” said Shipp. “Guys are focused on a daily basis and they are holding each other accountable. Guys know what gap they have and why they have that gap. We went back to the fundamentals of why we do certain things and why they have to be in their gap. As a result, our guys can trust that their teammate is going to be where he needs to be.”

Oklahoma Baptist was 8-4 and won a bowl game in 2021, but the Bison stepped back to a 1-10 overall record in 2022. They allowed more than 50 points in each of their last four games a season ago.

“It’s all about us,” said Shipp. “We’re not going to overlook (Oklahoma Baptist) at all, but we’re really going to put the focus on us doing our job no matter who lines up out there. Let’s do what we do, take care of our jobs and if we do that at a high level, good things are going to happen.”

Talk to you on the radio.

Sam Strasner is director of university relations at Arkansas Tech University and the radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.