Last Modified: Sunday, August 05, 2012 10:51 PM
The most crucial week of training camp began on Sunday afternoon, with McNeese State donning full pads for the first time this season.
Lying ahead for the Cowboys is their busiest week of the entire season, with eight practices and a scrimmage on the schedule in the next six days.
"This stretch here is going to shape who you are as a team," said coach Matt Viator. "It's going to get tougher, tougher and tougher as camp goes on. You have to have guys that really buckle down. I tell players all the time, everybody's practicing. Some teams are getting better and some teams are just getting by. We've got to get better."
The big week got off to a positive start in that regard.
"Our secondary made some plays today that were good. And we made some plays in the passing game. (Wide receiver) Ernest Celestie had a great day," Viator said. "We're getting a little better."
For defensive players, it was the first time to really line up and deliver a big hit.
"This is what D-linemen love to do," said senior defensive tackle Pat Williams. "Sometimes, I think the hardest part is practicing without the pads. Now we can get good reads and release off each other and run around and get to the ball."
Linebacker Joe Narcisse, who missed the spring with a shoulder injury, said he had no trepidation about mixing things up with ballcarriers.
"The first time I tore it, I wasn't too sure about coming back," Narcisse said. "But this time I'm feeling good, I'm feeling strong. I have a lot more confidence in it this year. I just wanted to come out and get my wind. I'm not really too worried about banging on it right now."
Senior offensive lineman Alec Savoie said he didn't notice any increase in intensity with the team going in full pads, noting that it has been present all week.
"Full pads doesn't do much for us offensive linemen, we've been hitting since Day 1 in just helmets," Savoie said. "It's just a little bit more heavy and hot.
"It's been a high level of intensity the whole time, even starting off in June (off-season workouts). We want to win a conference championship and make a deep run in the playoffs. It's been full-intensity since early in the summer."