Jacksonville State head coach John Grass said on Thursday he felt like his football team is further along than he was expecting after the first week of preseason camp.
Grass said he is anxious and excited to see the Gamecocks' first scrimmage of the preseason, which is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks worked out for just over two hours in the afternoon as temperatures soared near 100 degrees on Thursday, which was the hottest day of the year.
"I'm pretty pleased with the first week of camp," the first-year head coach said. "I think we are further ahead of what we were expecting and I'm looking forward to our scrimmage on Saturday."
Grass also said there was an urgency to continue to improve each day since the season opener is just three weeks away at Michigan State on August 29.
"We are just three weeks away from playing and it will be in a game week situation before long," added Grass. "We have to continue to improve everyone and get some of the guys that are banged up back next week to get us back to full strength."
The one unit that should be a strength for the Gamecocks this fall is the offensive line.
"We were able to develop some depth on our offensive line last year, and we only lost one player in Taylor (Johnstone), so everybody else is back in addition to adding some guys," Grass said.
"We have some guys like Max Holcombe, Blake Burks, Adam Wright and Nick Johnson all returning, plus we have some newcomers in Casey Dunn, Justin Lea and Kyron Samuels who will help us up front," Grass said.
Holcombe is also coming off an All-American junior season that saw him anchor a record breaking offensive line that paved the way for a school-record 6,637 yards of total offense, 1,755 more than any team in school history. The Tuscaloosa native, alongside Hoover native Burks, helped the Gamecocks score a school-record 528 points, 107 more than the previous school record set in 1991.
"We want to get to where we have 10 that we can play and we are at eight or nine right now, and hopefully we will continue to build depth there," said Grass. "That's where it starts offensive for us - up front. It dictates what we are able to do in the run game and the pass game in protection."
Courtesy: JSU Sports Information (www.jsugamecocksports.com)
*Story on offensive line in featured video