HAMMOND — The Southeastern Louisiana football team worked out twice Thursday, holding an early two-hour practice in full gear in Strawberry Stadium before working in shells in the evening on the adjacent practice fields.
SLU overcame a sluggish performance in the morning session and continued working on all phases of its game in the evening session. The Lions spent part of the evening working on their blitz packages and pickups before concluding with two drives each by the No. 1 and No. 2 offense in the two-minute drill.
The SLU defense stood up in all four drives, highlighted by an interception by freshman Paul Kopesky.
“It was nice to get back on the grass,” SLU coach Mike Lucas said. “The kids had a good tempo and there was great enthusiasm in the evening workout.”
SLU returns to practice Friday with a 6 a.m. workout before wrapping up two-a-days Saturday. The Lions will wrap up camp with single workouts Monday and Tuesday before starting classes Wednesday.
LEWIS DOING WELL: In Lake Charles, former Denham Springs standout Josh Lewis is back for his junior season as the place-kicker for McNeese State, and during camp he’s been kicking better than ever.
“Josh looks really good,” Cowboys coach Matt Viator said Thursday. “I love the way he’s kicking off, kicking field goals and kicking PATS.
“And James Bice is coming along as well. We’re in a good situation. We’ve never had two guys as talented kicking-wise. And along with Ben Bourgeois they can all punt.
“We’re deep in the kicking position, and we are where we need to be.”
Lewis, who has won three games with his kicks in the past two years, finished with a team-high 65 points on 13 field goals (16 attempts) and 26 PATS (29 attempts) last season, and his two-year totals have him with 21 field goals and 70 PATs for 133 points.
Bice, a redshirt freshman, missed the spring with an injury and is getting back into a groove.
Neither Lewis nor Bice punted in high school but both will be backing up Bourgeois, who will mark his second season as the team’s punter. Last year he posted a 37.0 yard average, having only 22 of 55 punts returned.
Both Lewis and Bice have been working on kickoffs. A year ago, Matt Polansky held the job, averaging 62.7 yards on 37 kickoffs.
DEFENSE RULES: In New Orleans, it was a day for the defense as Tulane held its fourth preseason practice.
The defense combined for two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a handful of pass break-ups and several pad-popping hits.
“I think our defense is much improved from a year ago,” Toledo coach Bob Toledo said. “I think our defensive coaches have done a nice job of preparing them. We’ve got better players, and we’ve got more numbers. I just think it’s a better group, and I’d be disappointed if they don’t perform better.”
Junior Ryan Travis and sophomore Kendrell Washington both picked off passes during seven-on-seven drills and the trio of safety Taylor Echols, linebacker Zach Davis and cornerback Jordan Sullen each tallied a pass break-up. In addition, sophomore defensive tackle Shane Delery — who missed all of the 2010 season with an elbow injury — and true-freshman defensive lineman Corey Redwine recorded one fumble recovery apiece.
Toledo announced the addition of six newcomers, adding scholarship offensive lineman Taylor Perry along with five freshman walk-ons: safety Anthony Bronzo, quarterback Jordy Joseph (New Iberia, High), defensive back Ryan Kaminski, linebacker Brandon Schmidt (St. Thomas More High in Lafayette) and wide receiver Darius Tenney.
DEMONS STAGE MEDIA DAY: In Natchitoches, Northwestern State held its Fall Sports Media Day on Thursday.
“We’ve got as tough a schedule as any FCS team in the country,” third-year coach Bradley Dale Peveto said. “We open against a Delta State team that almost won the national Division II championship and has nearly everybody back.
“LSU and SMU, two bowl teams, two great programs, they speak for themselves. Nicholls is our conference opener on the road, and they whipped us up here last year, and that starts a Southland Conference schedule that has no let up. If you’re picked first, if you’re picked eighth, you can win it. It’s a great challenge and one we welcome and embrace.
ULM COMPLETES FINAL PRACTICE BEFORE TWO-A-DAYS: In Monroe, the ULM newcomers completed their final practice without the veterans Thursday afternoon with a two-hour session on the grass practice fields. The team will reunite as one unit on Friday for their first two-a-day practice schedule of fall camp; they will open the day with a practice at 8:30 a.m. and will then hit the field for a second time at 4:30 p.m.
The Warhawks will wrap up fall camp with an open scrimmage Aug. 20.