Classes at NSU start next Monday. Next Thursday, the Demons open the season at home against Missouri State. Coach Jay Thomas is giving his squad morning meetings, activities and seminars in the same time windows as class periods, then working in the afternoon with the same game-week routine the team uses all season long.
The workdays start this week with FBI class – an abbreviation for “football intelligence” covering the gamut, including reviews of rules and on Monday morning, an introduction to schemes used by Missouri State.
Coaches reviewed game tape of Saturday’s scrimmage in position meetings, and had more highlights than lists of corrections to make.
“We did a lot of good things, but our kickoff coverage needed work and we got that corrected today,” said special teams coordinator August Mangin. “(Punter) Andy Wickman looked pretty good today. The day off yesterday really helps kickers and punters.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Lucas said it was easy to see who stepped to the fore on the Purple Swarm unit.
“I was really happy with the pass rush we got. Our front guys did a great job putting pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “Marion Chapman at linebacker had a great day and is really knocking the rust off after missing last year. Adam Jones is showing us the move from linebacker to free safety was the right thing to do. Two interceptions, athletic plays, made with the skills you don’t coach and boy, you enjoy seeing them put on display.”
Ben Norton, the Demons’ offensive coordinator, found much to like watching Saturday’s tape, but predictably, if Lucas was pleased with the pass rush, the pass protection was not up to par.
“We got very good play at quarterback and running back, wide receivers are doing a great job, and our tight ends are making strides. In the offensive line, we have some shuffling going on, some injuries at that position, creating inconsistency and we’ve got to fight through and get better play after play,” said Norton.
“Zach (Adkins, the Demons’ returning starting quarterback) had a great day, made a lot of good plays. He handled the offense well, made a lot of plays in and out of the pocket, and was under tremendous pressure from the defense, which was very tough to handle,” said Norton. “All the running backs did good and it’s easy to see we’re well stocked there.”
Lucas said he is feeling confident about the progress the defense is making, just over a week away from the opener.
“We’re getting better every day, and there’s no question we feel a lot better than we did a week ago,” he said. “We watched a lot of tape on Missouri State today. They have a very athletic quarterback and our guys know we’ve got to be very good next Thursday night.”
Monday’s competitive 11-on-11 period was a goalline situation that Lucas believes will benefit the team throughout the season.
“We got to work against the personnel groupings we’ll see against teams in our league,” he said. “We put the ball down on the 4 and got after it, and our guys did a good job.”
While the team didn’t have a workout Sunday, the coaching staff met and shored up depth chart assignments. That allowed Mangin to move forward with special teams assignments.
“It helps greatly. Getting some of those guys’ roles better defined, changing them from the ‘on the border’ status, allows us to get our teams lined up and have guys know what we’re asking of them,” he said.
The Demons will work out in shoulder pads Tuesday afternoon, then go through a media training session Tuesday evening featuring Demon Sports Network announcers Patrick Netherton and Tony Taglavore. Netherton is a social media expert while Taglavore, who has his own marketing firm, has two decades of television sports and news experience and will coach the Demons in interview skills.