Northwestern State’s spring football practice concludes Saturday afternoon at 2 with the 30th Annual Joe Delaney Bowl in Turpin Stadium, with lots of scoring expected.
But that’s not an indictment of the Demons’ Purple Swarm defense, said head coach Brad Laird.
The offense will be the Purple team while the defense will make up the White squad. Last year’s Delaney Bowl went to the White, 87-70.
Bumps and bruises, especially up front offensively, prevented the coaching staff from trying to split up the units among two evenly-matched teams, so Laird and his coaches reverted to the scoring system used last year.
“Not having the opportunity to divide the roster evenly, you still want to compete, so we had to come up with a scoring system that rewards the defense. They’ll get points for stops, three-and-outs, turnovers, sacks and basically any impactful play,” he said. “You should see a lot of points on the board but that won’t necessarily mean the offense dominated.
“From what we’ve seen all spring, I do expect we’ll watch some really good competition Saturday afternoon.”
At the end of the first quarter, Laird will pause the game to issue the 2019 “Legendary Link” awards to three former players and retiring Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones. The “Legendary Link” is presented at the Delaney Bowl annually to people who have been impactful on the Demon football program.
College Football Hall of Fame and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Gary Reasons, whose No. 34 jersey is one of five retired at NSU, heads the 2019 list. Fellow N-Club Hall of Fame player David Wright and former linebacker and strength coach Gary “Mojo” Morgan are the other former players being recognized.
“We can’t thank these men enough for what they have done and continue to do for Demon football, but this is one way we can express our gratitude,” said Laird.
They were introduced Friday morning at the Triple B Invitational golf tournament at Demon Hills, involving supporters and former players, and at a Friday evening social hour in Natchitoches.
Before the 2019 Demons went through a 6 a.m. practice Friday, their 14th of 15 in spring ball, Laird set the tone for his team’s approach this weekend.
“In our team meeting Friday morning, the two things we emphasized were ‘compete’ and ‘finish.’ From Day One we’ve talked about competing, and we have position battles that continue to be unresolved. We have to show in each drill and each snap that we are competing as hard as we possibly can.
“We had two practices left in spring ball when we talked to the players, and now the last one is the 30th Annual Joe Delaney Bowl spring game. We want to see our guys better Day 15 than they were Day One.”
While position battles continue throughout the roster, Laird spotlighted one group on each side of the ball to watch in the Delaney Bowl.
“Going into the spring we were of course looking to see how our receivers would develop, considering our graduation losses there. We’ve seen some progress,” he said. “We’ve had some guys miss time because they’re hurt, can’t go (Saturday), and that gives other guys the opportunity to step up.
“Defensively you look at cornerback, where we have some guys back and we have some young ones who are pushing older guys. We’re not only developing depth but we’ve got some really good battles underway on the depth chart. That’s a position that has been fun to watch all spring.”
There is no admission charge for the Delaney Bowl, which will award the most valuable players for both teams in a post-game ceremony on the field.