The Jacksonville State football team practiced both Tuesday and Wednesday night at Burgess-Snow Field, giving the newly-installed turf its first true test. After two nights inside the stadium, head coach John Grass and the Gamecocks approve.
"I don't know who is more excited about it; the Southerners or us," Grass said. "We got on it last night for the first time, and our guys were just chomping at the bit. We got on it for the second time today, and that's going to make it hard to go back to the practice field. It's a whole lot softer and better than our old turf, and it looks great."
(Hear from head coach John Grass on the JSU defensive backs in the featured video)
Following a two-a-day Tuesday, the Gamecocks had a more relaxed Wednesday session. The team practiced in shells, but the afternoon was cut a few minutes short due to a lightning delay. Regardless of the unfavorable weather conditions, Grass said Wednesday was very productive.
"It was a good practice," Grass said. "We finished up two-a-days yesterday, so today served as a teaching day. We got our legs back under us today so that we can go have another hard day tomorrow."
The Gamecocks are set to practice tomorrow morning at 9:45 a.m. on the practice field, foregoing their regularly scheduled two-a-day.
"It's going to be a normal, blue-collar day," Grass said. "It's going to be like a Tuesday during game week. It's going to a full-pad day, and we're going early in the morning so we can miss the afternoon rain. Hopefully it'll be a little cooler in the morning, as well."
Position Highlight: Defensive Backs
Following suit with the rest of the defense, the defensive backs' position is one with a lot of depth. Despite having just one returning starter from the 2015 squad, Grass is confident in the young position's abilities.
"We have a lot of athleticism," Grass said. "We have some guys who can really run, and they are proven guys. Jaylen Hill is our only starter back, but he is being a great leader. I don't think we've ever had more depth than what we have right now at defensive back - especially at corner. We feel like we've got about six or seven guys who can play back there. The safeties are doing well, too, so those guys just need live bullets. They need to get some game experience, but we feel like we have guys who can make plays."
The preseason depth chart labels Hill and Pat Porter at corner back, Ra'Shad Green and Al'Dreecous Wilson at strong safety, Marlon Bridges and Delwyn Torbert at free safety, and Reggie Hall and DaQuan James across the field at the other corner.
The Gamecocks kick off the 2016 schedule September 1 at Burgess-Snow Field when they host North Alabama at 6 p.m. Tickets for the Thursdaynight contest are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or at the JSU ticket office.
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information - www.jsugamecocksports.com)