“We tried to utilize the open date that best that we could,” NSU head coach Jay Thomas said. “This was the perfect opportunity to get some guys that were nicked up back at 100 percent this week. We continued to work with our developmental guys and the fundamentals.”
Saturday’s game will be significant for Thomas, as he goes back to Nicholls for the first time as an opposing head coach.
The Demons’ first-year head coach was the Colonels’ head coach from 2004 to 2009. Thomas was 27-35 in his tenure at Nicholls and led the school to its first Southland football title in 2005.
“I’ve been back there as an assistant and I have a lot of fond memories of being at Nicholls and the things that we were able to accomplish during the time that we were there. But it’s a business trip and the first game of conference play.”
NSU (3-2) is coming off an impressive non-conference slate that saw the school win games against Missouri State, Southern and Langston. However, Thomas wanted to work on the Demons’ weaknesses and maintaining rhythm.
“We really wanted to work on the defensive end, especially defending the pass,” Thomas said. “Offensively, there are timing issues. An open date can be good in a lot in a lot of regards and sometimes it can be a negative for you. Keeping your timing and rhythm up is important, but I felt like we got better in the things that we are trying to get done.”
Nicholls (3-2) is also coming off of a bye week to heal and to get refreshed.
“The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” Nicholls head coach Charlie Stubbs said. “We were able to get healthy a little bit and hopefully we’ll a few more guys back to open up conference play.”
The Colonels’ season started on the wrong foot with a 66-3 drubbing from Oregon, but the team rebounded the following week by upsetting Football Bowl Subdivision member Western Michigan 27-23.
“We’ve had our basic nonconference schedule and I feel like we’ve learned a lot,” Stubbs said. “In the three victories that we’ve had thus far, we’ve faced adversity throughout those games and I like the way we’ve handled that. In the past, we haven’t handled it well.”
Offensively, Nicholls has a two-quarterback system with junior Beaux Hebert and sophomore Tuskani Figaro.
Hebert is the son of former Demons and New Orleans Saints great Bobby Hebert, while Figaro is the more explosive of the two---adding the ability to run.
“I’m very impressed on what they are doing on offense,” Thomas said. The line is really playing well across the board and they have skilled receivers. Coach Stubbs does a great job with his team. He does a great job at rolling personnel and giving a lot of looks and motion.”
Kickoff for the NSU Challenge is scheduled for 3 p.m. today and the game will be shown on KPXJ (Ch. 16 for Suddenlink customers; Ch. 19 for CP-Tel customers).