NATCHITOCHES, La. (NSU) A rainy, dreary Wednesday morning practice provided prime conditions for a letdown by the Northwestern State football team early in preseason camp.
There was high energy a day earlier, on the opening practice of camp. Regardless of weather, the Demons faced the potential drudgery of going through a second straight session with no contact ahead of a major camp landmark. In Thursday morning’s workout, the team will don shoulder pads for the first time, dramatically ramping up tempo.
But there was no Hump Day lull from the NSU squad Wednesday.
“Our guys came out with good intensity and battled through the elements,” said fifth-year head coach Jay Thomas.
“I was excited about the intensity we brought,” said senior linebacker Peyton Guidry, a three-year letterman from Cut Off and South Lafourche High School. “On a dreary, rainy morning it might be easy to get a relaxed attitude and go through the motions, but we brought the same intensity we would on any other day, and we got some good work in.”
The Demons didn’t yield to the conditions, taking the field on schedule for their regular 8 a.m. practice despite a steady rain that had been falling for hours. The enthusiasm seemed authentic and consistent throughout the two-hour long practice.
The productive outing was a byproduct of the mindset the team adopted during spring drills and embraced over the summer, especially during the last month in conditioning drills, said Guidry. It’s also rooted in a defensive unit which has 15 players who started at least once in 2016 among 24 who lettered last year.
When asked about the difference between the 2017 Demons and last season’s team, Guidry didn’t hesitate.
“Energy and intensity. We have a lot of guys back who played last year and helped our defense. We also have a lot of new guys who are stepping up to fill shoes of people who left this past year. Our new coaches brought new energy and it’s got everybody ready to play,” he said.
The game changes Thursday morning when NSU slips on shoulder pads for the 8 a.m. workout.
“You start getting guys in football shape with contact,” said Thomas. “The conditioning right now is really good because of the training we did in July. Now we go to the other phase, put the pads on and start knocking each other around a little bit. We’ll start putting technique to use, and the tempo changes in drills and throughout practice, especially when we compete offense against defense.
“It will probably be rather spirited tomorrow. We’ve got to maintain that excitement as we go through camp,” he said, “and from what I’m seeing, I’ll be very surprised if we don’t.”
Wednesday’s weather was beneficial. Guidry appreciated the much cooler temperature. Thomas liked getting the chance to play in the rain.
“We can simulate the conditions by putting balls in water buckets, but you can’t simulate the rain falling out of the sky,” he said. “Catching it, throwing it, snapping it, making the placements on kicks, today we got experience taking care of the ball in the rain.
“It was nice and cool, after being nice and warm yesterday. It wasn’t typical August weather. We enjoyed the change and the fact that unlike most rainy days, we didn’t have to worry about the lightning detector going off, chasing us inside.”
NSU will wear shoulder pads and shorts in Thursday and Friday morning workouts, then put on pads and pants for its’ first full-contact session Saturday morning at 8 to wrap up the first of three weeks of camp before classes begin Aug. 21.