Incarnate Word will enter the 2023 season with their third different head coach in the last three seasons, but do not expect the standard to change for the Cardinals. Clint Killough was promoted to head coach on December 15, 2022 after head coach GJ Kinne accepted the same role at Texas State.
Killough most recently served as the associate head coach and wide receivers coach for the Cardinals. He joined the Incarnate Word staff in 2018 as the quality control coach and inside wide receivers coach. Under Killough, the Cardinals have had one of the most explosive wide receiver units in the country as Darion Chafin and Taylor Grimes both earned FCS All-American honors this season.
He began his coaching career at Bowling Green in 2017 as a graduate assistant before making his return to San Antonio with the Cardinals. Killough also played at Incarnate Word for three seasons after his transfer from Texas State. He currently holds the school record for the longest receiving touchdown (90 Yards; 2013) in school history.
Killough spoke to Zach McKinnell from The Bluebloods about the emotions of becoming the head coach at his alma mater and the impact former Incarnate Word head coaches Eric Morris and GJ Kinne had on his career.
“It meant the world to be honest with you,” said Killough. “This place has done a lot for me and the surface level reasons make it a no brainer to take this job. I’ve learned a lot on and off the field as player, as a man, and a football coach. You talk about guys like Eric Morris and GJ Kinne… Those guys have helped mold me into the person I am today. I’ve seen the ups and I’ve seen the downs. I’ve seen how to handle players, how not to, and the experiences that those guys allowed me to have on the staffs… I’m forever grateful for.”
KIllough has been with Incarnate Word for all three Southland Conference Championships and the three FCS Playoff runs for the Cardinals. The standard at Incarnate Word has been set and Killough understands it’s his job to continue the standard moving into the 2023 season and beyond.
“I think it’s creating an edge, said Killough about continuing the standard at Incarnate Word. “I think it’s being intentional with that we do. We are going to win with intention at UIW. Intentional detail, intentional effort, intentional love, and intentional trust. If we can build on those more intentional pieces as pillars then we will win with intention. Everything that we do is going to have a purpose behind it.”
Incarnate Word was one game away from the 2023 FCS National Championship as North Dakota State won a tightly contested semifinal game against the Cardinals. That game was a massive learning experience for Killough and he intends on using the lessons from that experience to propel the Cardinals forward this season.
“One thing that I picked up on in our North Dakota State game is they held their fours up for the fourth quarter. As soon as that third quarter ended until the ball was put down for the next snap they held those fours up in the air and it was a mindset. We’re going to be four points and four quarters better this year. That’s going to be on a shirt and we’re going to attack it everyday.”
The quarterback position has been a massive piece to the success at Incarnate Word over the last few seasons. Cameron Ward was named the 2020-21 Jerry Rice Award winner in the spring season. He followed that up by leading the Cardinals to the 2021 Southland Conference title and a first round FCS Playoff win over Stephen F. Austin that fall.
After Ward followed head coach Eric Morris to Washington State, Lindsey Scott Jr. stepped into the QB1 role after his transfer from Nicholls State. Scott won the 2022 Walter Payton Award after having one of the best individual seasons in college football history and leading the Cardinals to the deepest run in the FCS Playoffs in school history.
Killough will have a new starting quarterback to start the 2023 season after Scott’s graduation this offseason. Former Texas A&M/Auburn QB Zach Calzada and former East Carolina QB Ryan Stubblefield have transferred into Incarnate Word this offseason to compete for the starting quarterback position.
“Who’s going to lead from the front? Who’s not afraid of that moment,” said Killough about what he is looking for in a starting quarterback next season. “You don’t just show up Week 1 and lead from the front. You’re not the first guy to run out of the tunnel. Those things are who’s first in the weight room, who’s putting their hand down in the dirt when we’re running wind sprints, who’s the first to class?”
“Not only do those guys have to carry themselves on the field, but they have to do it off the field as well,” continued Killough on his expectations of his quarterbacks. “You can’t be afraid of the moment because college athletes are walking lie detectors. They see through a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to leadership both on and off the field from a player and coach standpoint.”
Incarnate Word opens the 2023 season against the University of Texas at El-Paso (UTEP) on September 2 as the Cardinals look to win their third consecutive Southland Conference title. Killough was clear that the expectations for the program will not change and he will lead the attack to continue to prove the doubters across the country wrong once again.
“I think just reinstating that is what it is, this is who we are, and this is who we’ve been for the last five years and nothing is changing. If anything we are going to kick it up a little. Every year you have your doubters… What is the doubt this year? We lost some guys to graduation, we lost some guys to the transfer portal?”
“I welcome those things and I put it out in front of them,” continued Killough. “This is what we have, these are the doubts, these are the challenges, but our standard has not changed. I think just putting that out there and letting it be known that this is who we are and this is who we’re going to continue to be and I’ll be the first one to kick the door down. You’ll just follow right behind me and we’ll get after it.”