With five practices under their belt, the Valdosta State football team will host the first of its spring scrimmages today at 8 p.m. at the school’s practice field.
Practicing in full pads Sunday, the Blazers took advantage of the nice weather as they participated in position drills and other offensive and defensive activities. While the team completed the practice, Valdosta State coach David Dean was not pleased with the overall performance and effort of his team in their final practice before the scrimmage.
“I thought we started off very good for the first four practices. Overall, we showed a lot of intensity. Today was very lethargic. I was not very pleased with the way we came out and performed. It was unfortunate because we had a beautiful day out here,” said Dean. “I was disappointed in the lack of intensity the team showed today because we’re not good enough to come out without intensity like that.”
With the team showing an overall “lack of interest”, Dean made a point to note that the intensity can only get better if the players want it to.
“From an intensity standpoint, it has to come from the players. The coaches can try to motivate all they want, but until the players dig down in their heart and find away to fight through the fatigue and body aches,” said Dean.
“The first day it’s easy to come out because you're fresh. But now since we’re on the fifth day practicing in a row, you as a football player have to find a way to fight through that adversity. We have several guys who still have the intensity, but as an entire football team, we’re not.”
Many questions loom for the Blazers, who finished 6-4 last season and missed the playoffs, just a year after being crowned Division II national champions. One question in particular is how will the Blazers replace stars on both the defensive and offensive sides of the ball. With the loss of receivers Regginald Lewis and Seantavius Jones, to the Blazers' starting quarterback Cayden Cochran, to losing All-GSC linebacker Chris Pope and defensive end Lawrence Virgil, the new senior class will be asked to take a bigger role on the team.
Consistency will be the key as practices continue to decide what players will actually step up to the plate as leaders of the team.
“I think we have players on both sides of the ball that have been making nice plays. We’re lacking consistency however,” said Dean. “We have days were some guys are really performing well, and other days they’re kind of average. That is not going to make a championship football team. We’ve got to have that exceptional play and consistency and right now we’re lacking that.”
Another looming question is who will be taking snaps under center for the Blazers come the season opener on Sept. 6 against Albany State. Last season's diamond in the rough, Kaleb Nobles returns to the team and will have a head start at the quarterback competition, however Dean indicated that there will be a quarterback competition for the starting job.
“Well right now Kaleb is still No. 1. Jake Medlock is No. 2. Jake is really pushing Kaleb a lot. It’s only his (Medlock) fifth practice and is still learning the offense. I think it’s going to be a heck of a battle as we go forth. But for the scrimmage, Kaleb will be the starter,” said Dean.