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Thomas prepares NSU players for class during ‘Mock Week’
Aug 22, 2013 | 162 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NSU head coach Jay Thomas
NSU head coach Jay Thomas
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New Northwestern State football coach Jay Thomas sent his players to FBI class Monday as their final days of preseason began.

It had nothing to do with law enforcement, however - just "football intelligence," along with Thomas' desire to establish a routine for his team a week ahead of the start of fall semester classes on campus, which coincides with the middle of game-week preparations for the Aug. 29 opener at Missouri State.

In his seventh year as a head coach, his first in charge of the Demons, Thomas is sending NSU through "Mock Week" with simulated classes, and establishing the daily in-school practice schedule. Thursday night, exactly a week before the season kicks off, the team will run through a mock game at Turpin Stadium, following the same game-day routine that will be used at least 12 times this fall.

As he watched the players trot off the field at 5:42 Monday evening after a two-hour workout, Thomas declared day one of "Mock Week" well on the way to being a success.

"We went to class at 8 a.m. this morning, and got started like you normally would on a Monday. Our mock schedule today was weightlifting class at 8, and FBI class at 9, simulating a class that lasts 50 minutes," he said. "We'll continue tomorrow with media training for 75 minutes, and get used to a Tuesday-Thursday class schedule.

"We got into our regular daily practice routine today, with 2 o'clock meetings, 3 o'clock specialists out on the field, at 3:30 the team is out, and by 5:45 we're all done, getting to supper, getting to study hall. We're setting a routine," said Thomas, who knows the first couple of days of classes can be chaotic, especially for the more than two-dozen newcomers on the squad.

"Next week with real classes beginning, there's always adjustments that you can't predict, and especially with that being a game week, we want to have the football side of things already established, and with our mock classes, the mentality in place that there's work away from football to be done," he said.

FBI class provides a different setting for the players to absorb the strategic approaches of their new coaches.

"It's a little bit of everything," said Thomas.  "We are using the coordinators, going through a scenario of a drive and explaining why when the ball is in a certain location, when there's a given down and distance situation, helping them see what we're seeing and thinking. Why are we calling these plays, or on defense these fronts and coverages, in these situations?

"It's a good review. You learn this during camp, but in this setting, they're taking notes they can refer to throughout the season, and they're getting inside the mind of the coordinator, so everybody's on the same page," he said.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff is closing in on personnel decisions regarding the depth chart and travel roster for the opening week. The Demons got basic info on Missouri State during their FBI class, but the real work on the Bears will begin with the first game-week practice Saturday, after an off day for the players on Friday while coaches are finalizing the game plan.

"The window is closing quickly, because within a couple days we'll have to make some decisions who will travel. It was tough to pick the 95 who are in camp. Now we want to get the travel squad down to 67, the number we like to travel with, and we may be burning the midnight oil to reach those decisions," said Thomas. "You need the correct depth at every position, taking into account what the opponent does and how that impacts each area."

NSU spent more time Monday working on special teams in their second workout of the week, following a Sunday afternoon session.

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