2023 DCTF Magazine Team Preview: UIW Cardinals

Courtesy of UIW Athletics

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

Another year, another coach: Cardinals thriving despite changes

For a second consecutive year, UIW established a new standard to follow. And for the second straight year, a young, new coach will try to raise the bar even higher.

When G.J. Kinne took the Texas State job after leading the Cardinals to the national semifinals in 2022, the university quickly promoted associate head coach and wide receivers coach Clint Killough. 

The 29-year-old Killough hopes to follow the path of recent successful head coaches on campus. Eric Morris was 32 when he started building the program in 2018, and Kinne was 33 when he took the job last season. 

What’s been the key to the success of young coaches at UIW?

“The brand of football we’ve presented over the past few years kind of matches the younger generation,” Killough said. “It’s wide open, playing in space, throwing the football down the field, being explosive in the run game, and playing with tempo.

“It’s also a system where young coaches can thrive, and it allows them to evolve within the realm of college football. Young coaches are able to relate to the 18 to 22-year-olds, and it’s easy for those visions to unify.”

The city of San Antonio has also played a significant role in the Cardinals recent success.

“The city of San Antonio sells itself,” Killough said. “San Antonio is a cultural melting pot that allows for an experience of growth. It’s a great place to grow into the woman or man you want to become.

“We’re also a faith-based institution that gives you an opportunity to grow into your faith, whatever direction that may lead. This isn’t a place where athletes are pushed in one direction or another when it comes to their faith. It’s more about how you want to grow and what you want to become.”

What UIW’s football program has become is one with name recognition and national relevance. Killough is well aware of the expectations he inherits from his predecessors.

“I like the pressure and the expectations because I love UIW,” Killough said. “This place means something to me, and we’re going to uphold this standard and tradition that has been building around here over the last five years.

“A winning standard has been set, and we’re not going to shy away from that. We are chasing a third straight Southland championship, and we are chasing a national championship. These are high expectations, and I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t embrace these expectations.”

Motivation is something that Killough doesn’t need to worry about. Those returning from last season remember what it felt like after losing to North Dakota State in the national semifinals, 35-32.

“We sat in the locker room after our loss to North Dakota State for quite a while,” he said. “There were tears and loud voices of frustration. You could feel the hunger that remained. I don’t think anybody is happy about how last season ended. We had an opportunity to go to the national championship, and we were up 16-3 with the ball on the one-yard line with a chance to go up three scores.”

Hunger to return to the playoffs and finish the job this time is evident around campus.

“We have some shirts floating around that say, ‘Four quarters, four points,’” Killough said. “We were four quarters and four points short of a national championship in front of a national television audience.”

Many pundits focus on the players that UIW lost off last year’s roster. Guys like Walter Payton Award winner Lindsey Scott Jr. and linebacker Kelechi Anyalebechi. However, Killough quickly points out the depth UIW has established over the last few years with another group of players ready to make a splash.

“There were a lot of really good football players on our team last year that maybe weren’t at the forefront,” Killough said. “But they’ve waited their time, learned from the guys in front of them, put in the work in the weight room and the classroom, and now it’s their turn to showcase their skill set and be on the big stage.”

If Killough is correct, the Cardinals are set to be a force on the national stage for years to come.



The big question around the Cardinals is if Killough can continue the success of previous head coaches Eric Morris and G.J. Kinne. The answer likely lies in who will suit up at quarterback. After all, the last two quarterbacks — Cameron Ward and Lindsey Scott Jr. — won national awards during their time at UIW.

To answer the quarterback question, Killough hopes the transfer portal provides more success. UIW signed a trio of transfers in Zach Calzada (Texas A&M/Auburn), Ryan Stubblefield (ECU) and Richard Torres (Nebraska).

Killough has been impressed with the work ethic of both quarterbacks on and off the field. If they can produce close to what Ward and Scott were able to, the Cardinals have pieces around them 

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In