The popping of pads against pads filled the sweltering air at Grambling State University’s football practice field Monday morning as the Tigers donned full gear for the first time this preseason.
First-year head coach Hue Jackson said the practice presented for the most part exactly what he expected to see.
“It was a typical first day in pads — sloppy but physical,” Jackson said. “I didn’t expect to see anything more or anything less. The players are focused and working hard, and it was a good practice.”
Good, but by no means perfect, Jackson added.
“I think a lot of the sloppiness is it being the first day in pads,” Jackson said. “And that’s the way it usually happens. The players have been anticipating putting on the pads and doing some hitting and doing some live tackling. That raises the anxiety levels, and that turns into sloppy play sometimes.
“But today was a good day and last week was a good first week. Now we still have a long way to go before the season begins, but we’re off to a good start. We just have to stay focused on getting better every day.”
Jackson said newer players who weren’t out for spring practice are grasping more and more of GSU’s schemes and systems day by day.
“They’re catching on — they’re coming,” Jackson said of GSU’s newcomers. “They’re still learning and don’t know how it all works yet, but I think they’re handling it well.”
Another thing Jackson’s Tigers are handling well is the blistering heat that hovered around 95 degrees by the end of Monday’s practice.
“They can take it,” Jackson said. “I have a team that wants to win and they are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. That’s where it all starts.
“You’ve got to have the desire, the discipline and dedication to do it the way we do it. And that’s what they’re doing. So we just have to keep pushing through the heat and keep moving forward and getting better.”
The Tigers will take a break on Tuesday before returning to the practice field on Wednesday.
Grambling State kicks off the 2022 season against Arkansas State at 6 p.m. Sept. 3 in Jonesboro, Arkansas in a game that will stream live on ESPN+.
By T. Scott Boatright