About a dozen spectators tucked under a shade tree Tuesday afternoon as the Southern University football team worked in full gear for 2-1/2 hours.
The heat simmered, but coaches and players went about their business.
“You’ve got to come out with a great attitude. That’s half the battle. If you come out here saying, ?Man, it’s so hot outside,’ that’s when we’ve had our worst practices,” quarterback Dray Joseph said.
With classes at Southern beginning Monday, Joseph can count the number of days remaining in fall camp on his throwing hand.
The Jaguars, who Tuesday had only the single practice, return to their two-a-day schedule Wednesday. Saturday brings the second scrimmage of camp.
“I tell you what, we are a good-looking football team,” Southern coach Stump Mitchell said. “I’m really excited about the way we’re playing.”
Mitchell praised an imposing receiving corps that includes Michael Berry, a transfer from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Charles Hawkins has looked good catching passes, too, but Mitchell said Tuesday “wasn’t one of his best practices.”
On the offensive line, freshmen Isaiah Webster (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) and Zach Brown (6-4, 290) have been getting reps with the first team at guard.
Junior running back Sylvester Nzekwe provided one of the highlights Tuesday during a live situational drill when he zipped through the middle of the defense on an off-tackle play, put a move on the safety and broke away for a long gain.
“We didn’t do too well today offensively until the end of practice when we went to red zone situations. But that’s a good sign when you can accept that some things aren’t going right and you can come back and make sure you finish strong,” Joseph said.
Joseph said he thinks he and Lee Almanza have put behind the issues they were having on the quarterback-center exchange.
Almanza, a senior, is transitioning from right tackle to center this year. He missed time in the spring breaking into his new position because of minor elbow and knee injuries.
“I don’t think it’s a big problem anymore,” Joseph said. “I think we’re getting the hang of it.”
On defense, Mitchell singled out senior safety Demetric Rogers, a Northeast High School graduate, and the secondary as a whole.
“When the quarterbacks make the most minor mistake in terms of placement, the DBs are getting their hands on the ball,” Mitchell said. “It’s good to see those guys are there because we gave up too many successful third-down plays to our opponents last year.”
Tight end Javon Jordan and cornerback Rashaad Hoyle continued to miss practice Tuesday with injuries. Jordan suffered what Mitchell termed a “serious concussion” in Saturday’s scrimmage and is still having headaches. Hoyle has “a medical problem as well,” Mitchell said.
Running back Dallas Fort, who has missed practice time after suffering a concussion at practice last week, returned Tuesday but did not wear pads. Mitchell said Terrell Alex of Redemptorist and Jerry Joseph have made the most of extra reps resulting from Fort’s absence.