JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State began spring practice Monday morning, and for head coach John Grass and his staff, this is the time to see how the players respond to getting on the field after an off-season of weight-room and conditioning work.
Grass also wants to see how players do at certain spots. The Gamecocks worked out in shorts and helmets, and they'll do so again Tuesday. Thursday is set aside for the first practice in full pads.
“You want to get people in positions," Grass said after Monday’s workout. "You want to see if they are able to play in space and how they are at blocking and tackling — big things before we get into Thursday's practice and get some pads on.
"Also, some of the guys have had really big off-seasons, and you want to see how that carries over when we get into practice. We will get into our normal schedule on Tuesday and Thursday, so I'm ready get into our routine."
The Gamecocks will have two weeks of work before spring break. They’ll work for three weeks until the J-Day spring game April 12, which is a Thursday.
"I love how we do spring practice," Grass said. "We go a couple of weeks, and then we have spring break. Then we come back and have three weeks after the break, so it never gets monotonous. Our guys stay excited to go to practice and ready to go."
JSU’s first practice Monday was moved up an hour to avoid the rain. Because of the wet weather, the Gamecocks worked out at JSU Stadium instead of the team’s practice field.
"You have to adapt and overcome," Grass said. "Sometimes schedules change. We got in this morning and rain started showing up, so we went ahead and got out early and sipped some meetings. We were able to get a good day in and didn't get wet, so it was good to get it in."
Grass said he and his staff were eager to see the team on the field.
"It was just good to get back out on the field and see these guys running around," he added. "You can pound that weight room and work on speed, and up to this point we've had a really good offseason, but you love to get the headgear on and get back out on the field."