Laird pleased with tempo, execution on first day of spring practice

Monday’s spring practice workout for the Northwestern State football team was the first day of its 2023 season.

There were, however, things from 2022 that sixth-year head coach Brad Laird wanted to emphasize.

“Some of the things we’re looking at, one, attention to detail,” sixth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “Being able to execute at a high level when they’re tired, in the fourth quarter. Things we weren’t able to do the last two weeks of the season. No. 2 is turnover margin. We were minus-16 last year. To be able to play for the conference championship the last two weeks at minus-16 doesn’t happen very often. Those two things have been a focus through Day One.”

The 2023 Demons convened as a team for the first time at Turpin Stadium on a pristine afternoon and went through individual and team drills for two hours.

In addition to folding in four new coaches, Monday afternoon marked the first day in a Demon uniform for a bevy of mid-year enrollees who have taken part in offseason workouts with the team.

“I felt real comfortable,” said tight end Sylvester Campbell, a Mississippi Valley State transfer. “It was me getting my feet wet. Everything is coming along pretty smoothly.”

Campbell credited the willingness of the Demons’ returners to welcome him and the rest of the newcomers in as well as having his former Mississippi Valley State teammate Tyler McMillan in Natchitoches with helping him settle in.

He also gave himself a “B-plus” for attention to detail on his first day, echoing the sentiments of his head coach.

Laird said he was happy with the output of the first day mainly because of his team’s ability to execute consistently throughout a long workout, success he credits first-year director of strength and conditioning Jason Smelser with providing.

“Our guys have worked so hard in the offseason,” Laird said. “We pushed back spring practice because of how good things were going in the offseason. Coach Smelser did a great job, and you could tell. Our guys came out here and going through a two-hour practice and do it at a high level. What they accomplished in the offseason, you saw that today.”

Northwestern State will return to spring practice Wednesday and then again Friday. The Demons will keep the same schedule next week and will practice March 27 ahead of their first spring scrimmage March 30.

“What I told them at the end of practice is you have 15 (spring practices), and this is No. 1 – you don’t get it back,” Laird said. “You only have 15, and you have to make every one of them count.”