Northwestern State’s football team rates a 10 in the eyes of head coach Jay Thomas

8-10 Media Day Jay Thomas

Not in the Bo Derek sense of the numeral, though.

On a scale of 1-10, Thomas said he couldn’t be more convinced that his fourth Demon squad is poised to surprise pollsters who tabbed NSU for a middle of the pack finish in the 11-team Southland Conference race.

“Oh, it’s a 10, all the way. I’m very confident about where this team is heading. We want to start strong. That’s the key, we’ve got to be able to get out of the gate fast,” he said. “We need to take care of our business. We’re a lot better positioned to do that this season than last.”

Last year is stuck in the craw of the 10 senior players who spoke Wednesday during the annual Fall Sports Media Day luncheon in the Stroud Room of the athletic fieldhouse. The Demons, facing a demanding early slate, dropped their first five games, then rebounded to win four of the last six, losing only to playoff entries McNeese and Sam Houston State.

“We did start badly last year. We weren’t playing well, so talking to Coach (Daryl) Daye (the defensive coordinator), we said, what can we do better as a unit to get this thing kick-started. We were able to figure it out and got on a nice run in the second half of the season,” said senior safety Darius Poullard.

“We had a great spring. Now we are working to turn it into a great fall, and I like the direction we’re going,” he said. “The best thing for this defense is having Coach Daye back for a second year. We’re really comfortable being two years into his defense. We can hear the calls at night when we’re sleeping.”

Senior offensive guard Terrance Boyd said the Demons are short-sighted by design.

“We got caught up looking too far ahead last season. We are only looking toward Sept. 2 at Baylor right now. The focus is getting better tomorrow than we are today,” he said. “It’s about how we handle our business, completely.”

For one of the senior speakers, wearing a purple jersey and speaking to media covering the Demons was a new experience. Graduate transfer quarterback Brooks Haack started 13 games and played in 21 over three seasons at UL Lafayette.

He’s very impressed at what he’s seen since arriving on campus and beginning workouts in January.

“Everywhere you look, there are weapons,” said Haack. “Two guys coming back at receiver (Shakeir Ryan, Tuff McClain) who can really make plays down the field and have done so in their careers here, very, very reliable guys. The stable of running backs we have – we don’t just have 1-2 guys, we have three great breakaway backs and others who add to the mix. I can’t say enough about the offensive line and the work those guys do. It’s a well-collected unit.”

The Demons worked out for two hours Wednesday morning. Thursday at 8:30, they pull on full pads for the first time in preseason camp, and begin aiming for the first major scrimmage Saturday morning in Turpin Stadium.
A light evening workout is slated Thursday evening at 7, the first two-a-day of four this month.