College football: Health, depth chart the twin focus for Northwestern State in final scrimmage of fall camp

727
Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services ... Head coach Brad Laird addresses the team following the first scrimmage of fall camp on Aug. 10.

Jason Pugh, NSU Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations

NATCHITOCHES – There is an axiom around football teams that teams make the most improvement from game one to game two.

Brad Laird shares that same thought, but he is hoping it arrives a tad bit sooner for his Demons, who will hold their second “preseason game” at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at Turpin Stadium.

“So many people say you make the biggest strides from game one to game two once you get into the season, and I want to see that from what we call ‘preseason game one’ to ‘preseason game two,’” Laird said. “We now have 15 practices under our belt compared to seven or eight before our first preseason game. We should be more advanced in what we’re able to do. You want to see them take that next step.”

A week after running approximately 75 plays in the first full-pads scrimmage of camp, the Demons will try to run the same number as they conclude fall camp.

The Demons have to balance health with continued improvement as they move toward the Aug. 29 season opener at UT Martin.

“We’ve got to come out of it healthy,” Laird said. “We’ll play it by ear and see how the scrimmage goes.”

In the Demons’ first preseason game of camp a week ago, the Northwestern State defense produced eight sacks while the offense flashed its big-play ability with all four of its touchdowns coming from 25 yards or farther. For all of the good things the Demons did in that scrimmage, Laird said there are areas where he will look specifically for improvement.

“The effort in the first scrimmage was good, and I expect to see the same thing this week,” the second-year head coach said. “One thing that stood out were the penalties. It was the first time we’d had officials out there. Hopefully, we can correct the penalties, especially the mental ones, the pre-snap penalties.”

In addition to improvement and mental focus, the final workout of fall camp can provide opportunities for several players.

Laird said there will be a number of players unable to take part in the scrimmage who will return to practice early next week. In the interim, those reps will go to different players on the roster.

“It’s especially important with so many guys out,” Laird said. “It gives other guys the opportunity to step up and get on the bus on that Wednesday before we leave (for UT Martin).”

TRAFFIC NOTE

Saturday is Move In Day on the Northwestern State campus, so fewer entrances to campus will be open to drivers.

The Caspari Street and South Jefferson Street gates will be the lone inbound gates open to traffic, and the parking lot behind the east (visitor) side of Turpin Stadium will be closed to traffic because of Move In Day at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts.

The Northwestern State soccer team will host its first exhibition game of the season Saturday at 3 p.m., welcoming Little Rock to the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.