NACOGDOCHES, Texas (Press Release)– It may have been three hours later than originally planned, but Stephen F. Austin's 2016 fall camp finally got underway Monday night on a very hot and humid night under the lights of Homer Bryce Stadium.
Originally scheduled for a 3:45 p.m. practice time on the SFA grass practice fields, a late afternoon summer storm, loaded with lightning, high winds and drenching rain, pushed the first practice of 2016 to a 7 p.m. start. Fittingly, it fit right into the counsel head coach Clint Conque had given the team the night before.
"We call that a 'Geronimo' situation, which is adversity that we can't control," Conque said. "How you adjust to that says a lot about the maturity of your team and I thought we handled it well. We talked about adversity last night in our first meeting, and lo and behold, the first day of practice, it hit us. I thought the players handled it well. It was good to be on the field, and there was a lot of enthusiasm tonight.
SFA held an 18-period practice in helmets and shorts, following Conque's familiar up-tempo style. Focusing on installing the Lumberjacks' new offensive and defensive schemes, SFA wasted little time in seeing exactly where it stood as the 'Jacks staged 11-on-11 drills within the first 15 minutes of practice as music blared throughout Homer Bryce Stadium.
The influence of 18 seniors and 36 letterwinners was felt throughout practice, both on the field and from the sidelines. The returners showed explosiveness throughout the night while mentoring and instructing the newcomers on the sidelines during rotations.
Prior to practice, Conque focused nearly all of his attention on the Lumberjack specialists, watching as an unexperienced group showcased their abilities on field goals, punting and kickoffs. It will be a major focus for the 'Jacks throughout fall camp as Conque knows it will play a significant role in the success of the 2016 Lumberjacks.
"We're hoping to have the majority of our kicking game in place by the weekend," Conque said. "With that said, we'll start working some situations later in the week as we get pads on, specifically third down and red zone – two specific situations that we didn't do as well as we need to last fall on either side of the football. Right off the bat, we're going to emphasize those two specific situations."
The grind of camp is in full force as SFA will return to the practice field Tuesday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. The 'Jacks will once again be in helmets and shorts and will be back on the grass practice fields behind the SFA Fieldhouse. Stay tuned to SFAJacks.com, as well as SFA's social media platforms, for complete 2016 fall camp coverage.
HEAD COACH Clint Conque
On the first practice of 2016:
"Certainly there is a lot of excitement and I thought our players handled the adjustment well. We were on the field, dressed, ready to get practice going at 3:45, and then the weather came in. We call that a 'Geronimo' situation, which is adversity that we can't control. How you adjust to that says a lot about the maturity of your team and I thought we handled it well. We talked about adversity last night in our first meeting, and lo and behold, the first day of practice, it hit us. I thought the players handled it well. It was good to be on the field, and there was a lot of enthusiasm tonight. We've got 95 guys out here and they worked really, really hard."
On how the young players handled their first practice:
"I thought at times, they did well. We're doing everything fast, and you have to be confident in your assignments, your fundamentals and in your footwork in order to play fast and play confidently. Most of the guys were here most of the summer, and I saw some retention from there. But it was a very thick night tonight, and there were some guys that went down with some hydration issues, but they should be fine."
On the key to adjusting to fall camp:
"You've got to take care of your body. You've got to hydrate, you've got to eat well, and you've got to sleep. You'll see everyone walking around with gallon water jugs and we're making sure they're putting two to three of those down a day. You've got to take care of your body and you've got to be in the playbook. The guys that can learn it and the guys that can execute it on the field when it gets a little chaotic, those are the guys you know the game will slow down for them and they'll have a chance to help us. You can't help the football team if you're not on the football field and that's something we stress to them."