NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB News Channel 5) – Efficiency was the hallmark of the first preseason practice of the 2014 Northwestern State football camp on Tuesday, with second-year coach Jay Thomas impressed by the Demons’ approach to their workout.
“I thought it was a tremendous first day. Watching how the guys learned, seeing their effort, it was very impressive, one of the better first days I’ve ever been around,” said Thomas, who is beginning his ninth season as a head coach, and his 27th year coaching college football. “We have an intent about us, a workmanlike attitude, and we need to maintain that when we put the pads on.”
The Demons practiced for just under two hours in shorts and helmets. They will go through Fall Sports Media Day activities Wednesday before a 4:30 practice, then will slip on shoulder pads for the first time in camp on Thursday, heading toward their first extended scrimmage action of camp on Saturday morning.
Tuesday’s workout featured a format change aimed at speeding the learning process. After two spring practices and last season’s routine followed the same general practice plan, Thomas took time away from the Demons’ kickers and returners at the start of practice and moved the bulk of special teams work to the end of the day.
“We have so many young players in camp, we’re doing a little more walk-through prior to practice getting started, so we can get offensive plays down, get the defense the chance to put in blitzes and get alignments straight earlier in camp,” he said. “It’s a good lead into practice, a good followup from our morning and afternoon meetings, to go out and walk through. That’s how you learn: seeing it, saying it, hearing it and then doing it.”
Thomas also was pleased with his team’s conditioning as the cooler temperatures of recent weeks gave way to steamy, humid weather just in time for the start of practice.
“We’re not at 95 (players in camp), we’re waiting on a couple of guys, but we only had seven who didn’t meet the conditioning standard. I thought we were in tremendous shape,” said Thomas. “Our kids worked hard this summer, our strength and conditioning staff did a great job, and we’re going to make progress faster because of it.”
The Demons will practice at least once a day through Aug. 22, then start game week preparations for the Aug. 28 opener in Turpin Stadium against Missouri State.