|Football is just around the corner.
Teams at all levels are preparing for the upcoming season.
The Blue Raiders started preseason camp last weekend, and so far, they have looked good in practice.
However, they still have a long way to go before the season opener Thursday, Aug. 30, against McNeese State.
“I like the attitude of our team right now,” Head coach Rick Stockstill said Sunday after practice. “I like the way they have competed. We are throwing a lot at them right now on both sides of the ball. I really like their effort and intensity so far.”
By now, you know the Blue Raiders are working to erase any memory of last season’s poor 2-10 record.
During the Aug. 1 preseason media day, Stockstill emphasized how the team needs to “get its edge back” this season.
Of course, there is still a lot of time left until the first game, and many issues could come up between now and then.
Key injuries could crop up, or players expected to make contributions to the team could be replaced because of being outplayed by another teammate on the depth chart.
In the meantime, Stockstill said he believes the Blue Raiders have gotten that “edge back.”
“The physicality of practice has been good,” Stockstill said. “You sense that hunger on the team.”
He added he likes the competitiveness between the players during the practice drills.
For those that want to see the Blue Raiders in action now, a scrimmage game will be held Saturday, Aug. 11, and the school’s Fan Day is the following day.
If you want to check out a few things during practice, do it while you have the chance. Starting next week, practice will be closed to the public.
One of the big hires during the off-season for the coaching staff was the addition of former Southern Mississippi and SEC defensive coordinator, Tyrone Nix, to the mix to coach the defense with fellow coach Steve Ellis.
So far, both have worked well together and have brought the physicality to another level.
During the press conference, I asked them about the style of coaching they bring to the staff.
Ellis is intense and has knowledge of what the Blue Raiders want to do on defensive because he has been with the team since 2009, while Nix’s record speaks for himself.
Nix brings a no-nonsense attitude and toughness to a defense that was the top passing defense in the Sun Belt last season. But that same group was at the bottom of stopping the run and holding offenses out of the end zone altogether.
By the way, if you want to see some hitting, the defense is working on that too. A couple of players to check out include senior defensive lineman Omar McLendon and speedy corner junior Kenneth Gilstrap.
As for the offense, they have also picked up the tempo, as they look to improve on an offensive that was ranked near the bottom of the SBC standings last season.
The Blue Raiders have done this with new offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner in his first full season running the fast-paced offense.
Of course, junior quarterback Logan Kilgore has looked sharp in drills so far. Also, watch out for the duo at running back, senior Benny Cunningham and transfer junior halfback Drayton Calhoun.
The offensive line under new co-coaches Glen Elarbee and Matt Moore looks to be even better. Last season, it led the SBC, only giving up 10 sacks.
Overall, Stockstill likes the attitude of the team, but it is still early on.