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Excitement high as Demons hold Purple-White Fall Game

Cornerback Fred Lee (right) tries to intercept a pass as wide receiver Gabriel Ernest tries to...
Cornerback Fred Lee (right) tries to intercept a pass as wide receiver Gabriel Ernest tries to break it up during an intrasquad scrimmage Nov. 6.(Credit: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services)
Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 12:02 PM CST
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NATCHITOCHES, La. (NSU Sports Information) – Everything but the purple smoke. That is what Northwestern State football coach Brad Laird said will be in place Saturday morning at 11 a.m. when the Demons play their Purple-White Fall Game.

“It’s our 14th fall ball practice, but it’s different than any practice we’ve had,” said the Demons' third-year head coach. "It’s different than the last couple of spring games we’ve had, because we have the numbers to be able to divide the team into two teams.

“We, as coaches, drafted these teams Thursday. Coach (Mike) Lucas is the head coach of one team, and coach (Brad) Smiley will coach the other. The last 24 hours, it’s gotten geared up as far as trash talking goes, but it will be good to be able to go live in all three phases. That’s a compliment to our coaches and the preparation they’ve put in for 13 practices to be able to put us in a game-type situation when you divide the teams.”

Fans will be allowed into Turpin Stadium to watch the game but are asked to wear a mask and observe social distancing protocols. There will be no field access for fans.

The Demons went nearly two weeks between their first and second scrimmages of fall camp because of an inclement weather day that adversely affected the schedule. The extra ramp-up time produced a bump in execution, something Laird said he is looking forward to continuing Saturday.

There will be, however, certain challenges for that type of linear progression.

“There’s been a little less time between the second and third games than the first two,” Laird said. "We’ve divided the teams, so you may not have the continuity between those who have formed it over the first 12 practices. There are some ones on the Purple and some ones on the White. There are some mixed together, and we’re not used to that.

“But it’s no different than what we’re going to see in the spring and what we’ve seen with COVID, hurricanes or injuries. The next guy’s got to be ready. We’ve gained confidence in our depth over the last 13 practices, and it’s good to see it come to fruition. Everyone is going to have an opportunity to be a one where they have been a two or a three.”

While the Demons will be split down the middle, there will be some additions that have not been around this fall – referees.

They will be there Saturday morning, giving the Demons' penultimate workout of the fall an even more realistic game-day feeling.

“We’ve gone through a lot of live situations this fall, and I haven’t been the best referee,” Lairds aid. “I can blow the whistle, but throwing flags isn’t the best thing. I’ll say we’ve been very good in terms of mental penalties, the pre-snap penalties. We’ve done a really good job with that. I want to see it continue in a game situation. There will be hustle and effort penalties, but having referees and having our guys communicate with them is something we haven’t had. It will be good to have them out there in a live situation.”

All of the above situation has Laird’s juices flowing, something he has seen from his team as the days have grown shorter.

“Take the last couple of Wednesday practices,” he said. “The time changes and now you have to turn the lights on, and it feels like fall and you’re preparing for a game. It lets the guys have a little fun. They’re really excited to go out and compete. They’ve shown what they can do through 12 practices, so it will be good for them to end it with a little competition.”

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