So impressed was Stump Mitchell with Friday morning’s practice, the Southern football coach gave his players a break when he let them work out in helmets and shorts during the afternoon session.
Mitchell may not be in such a giving mood next time.
“We went full pads this morning and I thought got after it pretty good,” Mitchell said. “But the guys have to understand when you come out in the afternoon, regardless of what you’re wearing, you still have to go full speed. I think the offense understood that. I don’t think the defense understood that.”
Some of the Jaguars let their guard down, Mitchell said.
“The same guys that made plays this morning are the same guys we beat this afternoon, and that’s simply because they weren’t there mentally,” he said.
The Jaguars now turn their focus to Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, which has been moved back to 1 p.m. to accommodate players and coaches who plan to attend funeral services for longtime Southern employee and athletic department volunteer Michael “Sweet” Haynes on Saturday morning.
Haynes died Monday at 50.
With the scrimmage pushed back, Mitchell said the Jaguars will probably run only “in the neighborhood of 60-80 plays” to avoid keeping the players in the heat too long.
Still, Mitchell said he’s looking forward the first scrimmage of fall camp.
“Tomorrow will be the first time these guys have gotten an opportunity to compete in live game-type scrimmages where we will have the officials here to make calls,” Mitchell said. “They will have to be fundamentally correct in their assignments and techniques.”
Veteran offensive lineman Chris Browne said it shouldn’t take a scrimmage to get the Jaguars amped up.
“When you come out to practice, it doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage-type situation or not,” he said. “You have to find something to keep yourself motivated.”
Browne pointed to senior defensive lineman Kedy Enabulele, who was busy taking extra reps against a padded practice dummy.
“I have to stay motivated because I have to deal with that gentleman,” Browne said.
Asked to single out players who performed well Friday, Mitchell began with Dray Joseph, the front-runner to start at quarterback for the Jaguars against Tennessee State on Sept. 3 in Nashville, Tenn.
“Dray Joseph is definitely progressing every day in terms of what we want from the passing game, in terms of his reads, in terms of getting rid of the ball on time,” Mitchell said.
Has he locked up the starting job? Only for now, Mitchell said.
“He knows he can’t play bad and expect to be the starter,” Mitchell said. “These guys have a job for a certain amount of time. Just like me. I have a contract for two more years. I’m trying to extend it by what we do this year. If I don’t get it done, I’m gone as well.”
In addition to Joseph, Mitchell said linebackers Jared Detrick and Jamie Payton and defensive back Virgil Williams have looked good.
Mitchell said he’s also excited about the addition of new defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, who Mitchell said “taught Williams into an interception” during Friday’s morning practice.