NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB News Channel 5) – Pleased by what he’s seen so far in preseason camp, Northwestern State football coach Jay Thomas gave the Demons a break Sunday, following an indoor walk-through at Prather Coliseum with a swimming outing at the Wilson Recreation Complex at Demon Hills Golf Course.
NSU players and coaches didn’t break a sweat in the 75-minute walk-through in the air-conditioned coliseum, then enjoyed a romp in the Olympic-sized pool at the university’s recreation complex to cap the afternoon activities. Monday, the Demons stage the first of three two-a-day practices this week, with an 8:30 a.m. session in shorts and helmets and a 7 p.m. workout wearing shoulder pads and shorts.
“We’ve been at it for five days. We got three days of good contact and you need to take a break at about that stage. The heat’s also been a factor,” said Thomas. “We all get a break, players and coaches. It’s a day of rest. We’ve got two-a-days starting Monday and they’ve earned a break.”
After studying videotape of Saturday’s practice and 56-snap controlled scrimmage, Thomas had plenty of praise to distribute, beginning with senior tight end Corey Simmons, who suffered a serious foot injury late in his sophomore year and gamely struggled last season.
“Cory Simmons is really back to the old Corey. He showed a lot of good things all week and yesterday did a good job again,” said Thomas. “The offensive line at times did a good job as a unit. The running backs ran well, particularly Garrett Atzenweiler.
“Defensively, we’ve moved some people around and another of those, Jason Yarbor at safety, showed up well Saturday. Two returning safeties, Darius Poullard and Chase Collins, had good days yesterday,” he said. “Our corner play was really good and competitive. Deon Simon in the middle of the line did really well. The end play was consistent but we need to create more plays out of the defensive line.”
The Demons’ 2014 freshman signing class has quickly shown signs of early impact, he said.
“Since we put on the pads, Andrew Bluiett stands out first because he’s playing guard at 6-4, 358 and the defensive line is trying to figure out how to handle him, because he’s a bright young guy who can move and he is picking up things quickly. All those young offensive linemen are doing a good job, but Bluiett is the one who jumps out at you because he’s like a water tank,” said Thomas.
Other true freshmen on offense who have made good early impressions include walk-on receiver Bryson Bourque of New Iberia, running backs Ronald Green (Metairie-East Jefferson) and Nigel Dora (Monroe-Ouachita).
“Defensively, LaAllen Clark (from Baton Rouge-Central) had a good day as a defensive end, shows a lot of promise. At corner, Joe Mobley (Friendswood, Texas-Clearbrook) is going to be very good. He’s physical, gets after it, and he might find himself early on being the fourth cornerback,” said Thomas.
The Demons were slated to work outside Sunday, but were surprised twice by Thomas: first, getting sent into Prather Coliseum for a walk-through, and at the end of that session, finding out they were going swimming. Their reaction?
“Relief,” laughed Thomas. “It’s a good way to end the day, and besides, maybe the coach can sneak in a few peeks at the final round of the PGA.”