The first day of McNeese State football training camp was as expected: a little ragged, a lot energetic, and hotter than the devil’s breath.
“It’s Day 1,” said senior quarterback Cody Stroud. “We’ve got to get back in the groove of things, and we’ve got a lot of learning to do. We’ve got to get these young guys accustomed to how we do things, and the older guys in the groove.”
Head coach Matt Viator said the opening days of camp are always about working the team back into playing shape.
“Obviously energy is important, but routine is very important,” Viator said. “We’re trying to get them back in a routine. You can run all summer, but it’s nothing like putting on a helmet and practicing. You have to get back into that routine. We’re just trying to get the kids moving.”
Four defensive players left the field after cramping up during the final 30 minutes of Wednesday’s practice, which Viator said is a fairly typical number for opening day.
“You normally get a few more the first day,” he said. “Not only is it hot, but they’re normally nervous and excited, and I think that adds to it.”
The temperature during practice topped off at 96 degrees, with the heat index pushing over 100.
Given the bare-bones state of playbook installation, the day was more about repeating plays than highlight-reel moments.
“I think a lot of people flew around and competed hard on offense and defense,” said senior safety Terence Cahee. “I think we had a real good energy and a real good swagger about ourselves.”
The defense forced a handful of turnovers, but coordinator Lance Guidry said many of them came from unforced errors rather than what the defense did.
“They put the ball on the ground today without us even touching them,” Guidry said. “We got some fumbles that we shouldn’t have gotten.”
Not that the defense won’t take it — they made enough good plays to avoid having to run after practice.
“They’ll run before camp is over, I can promise,” Guidry said with a grin.