Even though he was never on the payroll, Will Hall has strong ties to the Tuscaloosa area and the University of Alabama football program.
For six years he was a coach at West Alabama. Initially hired as the offensive coordinator in 2008, he was promoted to head coach on Nov. 17, 2010, after the first retirement of Bobby Wallace. Over the next three seasons he won a pair of Gulf Shore Conference championships.
From there he went to West Georgia (2014-16), Louisiana as offensive coordinator (2017), Memphis as associate head coach and tight ends (2018), and Tulane as offensive coordinator (2019-20).
He's now trying to bring some stability back to the Golden Eagles, who had three head coaches last season.
Here is some of what Hall said to the media on Tuesday about his return to Tuscaloosa this Saturday to face the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
“Good competition today. We had great weather and were able to go back on the grass for the first time in about two weeks, so that was fun. We had good energy, and we really got after it in some areas. It’ll be great to watch the tape and see the battles going along. We know we’ve got a lot to improve on in some places, specifically offensively. We’ve got to keep on battling defensively and in the kicking game. We’ve got to keep improving there too. We had some opportunities in those areas to really break the game wide open when we were struggling offensively. We didn’t do it, so we’ve got to keep battling, keep getting better as we build this program. But, our kids are working hard, they’re impacting people in the right way and we took a step forward today.”
On prepping the team heading into this weekend’s game:
“We’re playing the best team in the country and it’s a great opportunity. But, where we’re at right now, we’re building the program. Really, everyday it's about us. We’ve got to focus on our opponent, but we’ve got to keep getting better as a program. We’re not at the point where, obviously, we can focus on a lot of the things other than just getting better every day with our technique, our fundamentals and executing our assignments. That’s kind of what our focus is on the most.”
On the offense and offensive-line in the previous game:
“We came out, probably the best we’ve played early. We drove it down the field and kicked a field goal. The next drive, we started on the minus two and drove all the way past midfield, it was inches away from a big completion that would either score or gotten down in the red zone. And then we kind of bottomed out from there. That’s on me, obviously as coach, but we’ve got to execute better and we’ve got to play better. It was our worst game up front. We did not play well up front and we had been playing well up front. We’re coming off a game where we played extremely well versus Grambling. We’ve got to address those issues and we’ve got to get better. It’s one of those deals where each game something new has arisen to hold us back offensively. And, obviously, we’ve got to get those issues fixed.”
On Freshman QB Ty Keyes and the upcoming challenge this weekend:
“What we want out of him is the same we want from everybody. We want him to see the signal and execute the assignment. Worry about their job and doing their job. Offensively, we’ve got to get 11 guys doing their job. We’re not doing a great job of doing that right now. We’re self-destructive in a lot of ways. And credit to Troy too now, that’s one of the best defenses we’ll face this year. They held Liberty the previous week to 21. We had our chances early to really get out in front and didn’t make those plays, and they made some adjustments and didn’t execute going down the stretch. But with Ty, it’s about everyday getting better. Ty’s got a chance to be a great, great player; he’s a freshman, like we said. But it’s the sixth time in my career that I’ve started a freshman quarterback. It’s not my first rodeo with this, we’ll get better as the year goes on. We did it at Tulane last year, we did it at (Louisiana) Lafayette in ‘17, we did it in ‘16 at West Georgia and we did it in ‘11 at West AL. We’ll get better as the year goes on. We’ve done this before, but we’ve got to start getting better, faster.”
On building a freshman quarterback’s confidence:
“You just have to keep executing and keep building around him, with every rep they get a little better. It’s actually kind of similar to last year at Tulane. (Michael) Pratt came in in game three here (for Tulane) and had a great game. Ty came in last week and had a great game. Then, his first start, we got absolutely obliterated on the road at Houston. Actually, I had a worse offensive performance than what we just had the other night. From there, we kind of kept growing and got better as the year went out and finished the year strong. I have great hopes that we’ll do that here. We’ve got a great plan, we’re working every day and we’re building this program every day and getting better every day. We’re going to do that here. We’re focusing on the work.” (In this quote, Hall references his stint OC at Tulane last season when they played a game at Southern Miss)
On the importance of this game to Ty Keyes’ career:
“I don’t know, we’ll probably have to reflect back on that later on in his career. Right now, it’s important that he gets better in understanding the offense and he goes out and plays well this week. Two weeks from now, we start conference play. Win, lose or draw this week, that’s what I told the kids, whether we’re 4-0, 0-4, whatever, it all starts over next week. We’ve got to continue to improve. We play a great opportunity this week with the No. 1 team in America, at their place. Unbelievable opportunity to do something extremely special and then after that, we’ve got conference play coming up and we’ve got to be a much better football team going into that than what we were this past week.”
On if he knows anyone well on the Alabama staff:
“I got to West AL in ‘08, the same time Coach Saban got there. It was a 45-minute drive, so I’ve spent many, many a day in those offices. We pattern much of everything we do like them. The way we build our program, quarterback centered through the defense, the way we practice is almost carbon copied off the way they practice. So, the way we’re building the program is very, very similar to the way they’ve built that there and off of his tree. I was able to be at West AL for six years. The six years they were building that program were the six years I was at West AL and I was up there all the time. Had some really dear friends that worked there and we’ve got some guys on our staff that come from that tree as well. I’m not connected to Coach Saban, per se, from having to work with him, but a lot of people that have worked for him and been under him. And then like I said, I was in those offices as much as I could be over a six-year time period.”