The Jacksonville State football team started its final week of spring practice on Thursday, getting in what John Grass called a "good fundamental day' in preparation for a key scrimmage day on Saturday.
The Gamecocks worked out on Burgess-Snow Field on Thursday morning in cold temperatures and winds above 30 mph. Grass, the three-time Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year headed into his fourth season as JSU's head coach, continued to be pleased with the energy level of what he continues to call a blue-collar team.
"We had a really good day," Grass said. "I thought it was another productive fundamental day, and we got better. Our guys got out here and got cranked up with it being a little cool and had a good fundamental day. I'm just pleased. This bunch is blue-collar. You love to come to work with them. They never complain and they're always having fun."
With just three practices remaining before Thursday's J-Day Spring Game, which will kick off at 7 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field, Grass and the Gamecocks now turn their attention to Saturday's scrimmage. It will be the most game-like atmosphere for the Gamecocks so far this spring and will give some guys some much-needed reps before winding down next week.
"We will get today's film behind us (Friday) and lift, and then on Saturday we will be looking for more plays than what we did last Saturday as far as a scrimmage goes," Grass added. "We will have officials here, so it will be a more game-like atmosphere. You can't practice enough situational football. Anytime you have a chance to get game-type reps is a good thing."
The goal of Saturday's scrimmage is the same as any day of spring practice. Grass hopes to continue to build depth on JSU's football team in preparation to target a fourth-straight OVC title in 2017.
"We will be looking to continue to build depth, which is what you want to do in spring," he said. "We've seen a lot of bright spots and a lot of guys that have stepped up and said 'Hey, I'm ready to play some snaps,' which is a good thing to see."
He emphasized the importance of Saturday's scrimmage, describing it as more of a business-type day than next week's J-Day Game.
"I think this scrimmage will be the biggest one we have other than J-Day," Grass said. "We will look to get a lot out of this scrimmage and do evaluations, and then J-Day is fun. It's fun for everybody - our players and our fans. We are looking forward to next Thursday, but Saturday will be time for some of these guys' stock to either go up or down. There will be a lot of business that takes place on Saturday."
Saturday's practice will begin at 9 a.m. and will feature several periods of team drills, giving Grass and his staff more looks at scrimmage-type situations than they have seen in any one workout so far this spring.
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)