By Carl Prather| August 7, 2013 at 2:11 AM CDT - Updated July 27 at 10:06 AM
The Jacksonville State football team put on full pads for the first on Tuesday, passing another point of the preseason before going through its first two-a-day practice on Wednesday.
Head coach Bill Clark saw some good things in the Gamecocks' fifth day of preseason drills and felt like putting on full gear helped his team take another step in preparations for the upcoming season.
"I think we learned some things today," Clark added. "We're beginning to learn what we're expecting, intensity-wise, and you can't simulate that in the spring or in the weight room. It has to be with a game coming and everybody picks their pace up. That's what we want. Obviously we have a lot of work to do, but it got better today.
"We put the pants on, and that's always interesting because it's game-like. I think we started a little slow, for whatever reason, but we really picked it up as we went on. There were a few more team things going on, which makes it a little more fun for the guys and they can see that being more game-like."
With the first day of pads in the books, the Gamecocks turn to another preseason milestone on Wednesday with the first day with two practices. Clark hopes that will show he and his staff even more about his first team as the head coach at JSU and offers more opportunity to work on specifics.
"I think it shows you a lot about a team," Clark said. "Their legs are tired. They've been doing football 24/7, basically, so we'll see a lot about them. Hopefully we can really focus on little things. Early in the morning we will do certain things and tomorrow night we will do certain things."
One of the more experienced units on the Gamecocks' roster was called out by the first-year head coach after Tuesday's workout. An offensive line that returns a wealth of returnees hasn't gone unnoticed so far in camp, especially the upperclassmen on the offensive front.
"Our offensive line is doing a good job," Clark said. "Obviously, it's good to get (Preseason All-OVC) Tarik Milner back, who brings a lot to the table, athletically, and he comes to work every day. We've also got Taylor Johnstone at guard and that's two seniors together. I don't like to talk a lot about individuals but you talk about your two seniors."
The offensive line's progress and work ethic are things Clark hopes will carry over into the rest of the offense, and he knows the front line will be crucial in setting the table for the success of the offense this fall.
"As a unit, they are working hard, and Coach (Mike) Bennefield and (Graduate Assistant) Trey Clark are doing a good job with those guys," Clark added. "We've got a high expectation for that group, and offensively, you go as your O-Line goes, so we're expecting big things from them."
The Gamecocks are preparing for their Aug. 31 opener at Alabama State in Montgomery. Tickets to that game, as well as season tickets for JSU's six-game home schedule are available online at www.jsugamecocksports.com or by calling the JSU Ticket Office at 1-877-JSU-TIXX. They can also be purchased at Fan Day, which will be this Sunday at 2 p.m. on Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium. Admission is free and Cocky, the JSU Cheerleaders and the Marching Southerners will be on hand with each member of the Gamecock football team.