The Mississippi Valley State football program kicked off its march toward its first conference title in the SWAC championship era when the Delta Devils began preseason camp this week. Seventy-five players reported to the MVSU campus on Wednesday looking to make enough of an impression to become a member of the 2010 MVSU squad.
Players and coaches met on Wednesday evening for the team’s initial meeting in which head coach Karl Morgan spoke to the players concerning what was expected of them. During the evening meeting, the program was graced by recent MVSU Hall of Fame inductee Robert Sanders, who also serves as the university’s police chief. Wednesday also allowed the players their first chance to meet as returning players and newcomers alike. While enthusiasm and expectation filled the room, there was a sense of business as the evening ended.
Thursday was an early day for the squad as the players went through a morning conditioning test. As the players raced up and down the field looking to make the required standards, the coaching staff kept records of players who made and missed the mark. After some mid-day meetings, the team took to the field Thursday evening for their first official practice of the season. Wearing helmets, grey shirts and green shorts, the team began working on individual drills by position and the instillation of the special teams. Following that portion of the practice, the team broke into offensive and defensive units as the coaches started instructed the players into the new scheme that will become Delta Devil football. The practice session ended with a spirited segment that had both players and coaches elated that the first practice was in the books.
“(Thursday) was a good day but a learning day,” said Morgan. “We finally got a chance to see the players on the field and to see exactly what we are working with. There are a number of players looking to make the squad and there are a number of positions that are still up for grab. While starting positions are not won on day one, a number of players did show some promise today.”
Friday’s practice continued in helmets and shorts as mistakes and miscues from the first practice were corrected and new ideas were put into action. The front end of practice focused on special teams, an area that Morgan and the staff view as critical to the team’s success.
“We have to be successful in the kicking game,” Morgan spoke to the players. “If we can be successful in special teams, it will go along way to making us successful on the field.
Friday’s practice ended with the focus on the running game as offensive backs and lineman took on the defensive line and linebackers in a high-energy session.
Saturday saw the team put on shoulder pads and jerseys for the first time during the camp. With the pads on, the intensity of the practice increased as players began the process of competing for positions on the squad. As an assistant coach yelled out during practice, “now is not the time for coasting, now is the time for competing.” With a number of positions on the line, freshman, transfers and returners alike are all on the practice field fighting to be on the team.
A lot of the focus during Saturday’s practice was on the passing game, an area that MVSU struggled in last season. The offense and defense each worked skill positions as units and eventually against one another in a session that brought cheers and constructive criticism from players and coaches.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said a couple of players as the session ended.
With the initial days of practice wrapping up, practices for Sunday and Monday will begin at 5:45 pm. Monday’s session will be interesting as the team will wear full pads for the first time.