The threat of afternoon
showers forced the Jacksonville State football team to move practice up on
Thursday, an adjustment that resulted in one of the Gamecocks' best
practices under head coach Bill
The weather didn't just reschedule the Gamecocks' practice time, it also
forced them to change the theme for the day. Clark felt his team took the
updated theme and ran with it.
"We got up this morning and saw the radar, and you just have to make
adjustments," Clark said. "We go over something different every
day and today's word of the day was focus, but we had to change it to
"We had to improvise today and they handled it extremely well. It was
probably one of the best practices we've had since I've been here, and I'm
not afraid to say that because the energy was there. We're learning how to
practice, we're learning what we want and if we can keep doing that we've
got a chance."
The Gamecocks worked out on Burgess-Snow Field on Thursday after using the
practice field twice on Wednesday. They ended the workout with some
simulated drills that resulted in a very enthusiastic and upbeat end to the
"That's what you want," Clark noted. "What do you do in the
fourth quarter? What do you do when the game is on the line? That doesn't
mean everything, but it's something. You've got to have concentration and all
of those other things that go with it, but I like it. It's still supposed
to be a game and it's supposed to be fun. It's a serious game for us, but
we still want to enjoy it."
One of the Gamecocks' most experienced offensive groups got a lot of work in
those drills, where the running backs continued to open the eyes of the
first year head coach. The group is led by Jimmy
Ogle, the only returning coach from last year's staff, and it has
picked up early in camp where it left off in a 2012 season that saw it run
for almost 200 yards per game.
Junior and Preseason All-OVC pick DaMarcus
James returns after leading the team in rushing a year ago with
867 yards, and the native of Demopolis, Ala., has shown the new head coach
what has made him successful throughout his football career.
James is a guy that everybody knows because he comes to work
every day," Clark said. "He was a great high school running back
and, as I've said 100 times since I've been here, it was great to know that
this guy was on our team. He comes to work every day, he's solid and he
does all of the things that you want a running back to do."
Pope played a backup rols as a true freshman in 2012 but still
managed to run for 240 yards and a score. Clark thinks the sky could be the
limit on the potential of the Anniston, Ala., native.
Pope could really be something," Clark said. "He really
could. Today, he came to work. It's always a question of whether you come
to work every day, and our expectations are super high. If he does that, he
could be as good as there is in this league. I really believe that."
Fellow sophomore Miles
Jones is the only other returning back with any rushing yards to
his credit last year, and the Acworth, Ga., native is stepping up his
efforts to become an even greater piece for JSU in 2013.
Jones has taken some big steps," Clark added. "We have
to have a No. 3 guy. He's learning to pass protect, which is what a good
running back does first. He's protecting the ball and doing a lot of other
things, so he's stepped up. We also have a lot of younger guys in that
position coming on."
JSU opens the season at Alabama State on Aug. 31 in Montgomery. Fans can
purchase tickets to that game or to any of the six home games in 2013 from
the JSU Ticket office by calling 1-877-JSU-TIXX or by visiting the
Gamecocks online at www.jsugamecocksports.com.
Tickets will also be on sale at the team's annual Football Fan Day on
Sunday at 2 p.m. at JSU Stadium. Admission is free and fans can meet the
2013 Gamecocks, as well as Cocky, the JSU Cheerleaders and the Marching
Southerners. Free football schedule posters will also be available.