JACKSONVILLE – The Gamecocks returned to the practice field for a two-a-day workout on Wednesday and head coach Jack Crowe says the team is making progress for the season opener in two weeks.
"We expect to start seeing the mental part of it to come down to some real efficiency, in terms of assignments and form and fit of tackling, blocking and schemes," Crowe said. "We are starting to get a little bit of it. I know it seems like to some of these guys that it's a million miles until we play, but it will be here before you know it."
Jacksonville State opens the 2011 season in just two weeks, on Thursday, September 1, against UT Martin. It marks the first time the Gamecocks have opened at home on a Thursday since the 2005 season and the first time since 1979 JSU has opened the season against a conference opponent. It's the first home-opener against a conference opponent since Charley Pell's team defeated Nicholls 31-0 to open the 1972 season.
Crowe says the Gamecocks are far from ready to open the season, but is excited about the young talent that is on the 2011 squad.
"We are not game ready, but we are starting to get the elements of the game put together and the situations in a game," Crowe added. "Today is a two-a-day and we are trying to get to the Saturday scrimmage that basically creates a separation between the 50 guys that we are actually going to get into the game against UT Martin.
"Tick, tick, tick – time is running out on which one of these young players is actually part of that 50 and which one of the returning players has made the progress to make that core group of players," said Crowe. "It looks to me like there are more freshman in it that what we've ever had, which is a compliment to some really talented young guys. It's the best talent we've had since I've been here."
Jacksonville State will practice once on Thursday and twice on Friday, before hosting its annual Football Fan Day on Saturday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field. The Gamecocks will then hold an open scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. in their final-cut scrimmage of the preseason.