JONESBORO (AStateRedWolves.com) – One day after reporting for its 2013 fall camp, the Arkansas State football team hit the practice fields in shorts and helmets Friday morning for the first of 29 practices leading up to its season opener Aug. 31 at home against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Red Wolves participated in their annual Media Day activities, held various team meetings and conducted orientation sessions yesterday, but turned their attention to on-field preparations with their first practice since concluding spring camp April 16.
"This practice was better than our last one in the spring, and that was the whole goal with what our players were trying to accomplish throughout the summer," said first-year A-State head coach Bryan Harsin. "I thought we executed well on both sides of the ball, so the time and work they put in over the summer showed today."
A-State held numerous drills working on all three phases of the game, but also held several team periods. With the excitement surrounding the start of another fall camp, the energy level was high and where it should be as noted by Harsin while meeting with media following the workout.
"You've got to get everything in during this time before we get into the season, and if you don't accomplish that then you're obviously behind," said Harsin. "These guys understand that. There will be things we'll have to do throughout camp to keep motivation, but hopefully their own mindset and our team goals are the factors that will drive them."
While A-State's returning players went through 15 workouts during the spring, they were joined by the 2013 signing class for the first time in a practice conducted with the coaching staff. The Red Wolves return 53 lettermen, including seven preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selections, and 22 players are part of the latest recruiting class.
"I thought our newcomers did a nice job, and I like where they are at," Harsin said. "They're newcomers, but they've been here for most of the summer. They've been out there working -- they just haven't been doing it with the coaches. They know how to call a play, lineup in the right spot and run it. So, there aren't a lot of new faces out here doing stuff for the first time because these guys spent the summer preparing.
"I think they've done a good job latching on to some guys at their positions who know our system. They've tried to watch and learn and from them. We'll see how it goes as we get into pads, really start hitting, the game speeds up, and it gets more physical. That's when you decide if a freshman can play or how he can contribute. We have some good young talent right now."
A-State will conduct four more practices Saturday through Tuesday before holding its first "two-a-day" session Wednesday and a scrimmage on Thursday.
"These first three days are really about establishing your base," said Harsin. "They're very important to just establish the foundation of your fall camp -- that's really what it's about. We have to continue to hold competitive practices, bring the right mentality, and handle adversity the right way. There are a lot of things that come up early on that you may use as examples for your team that will help carry us through not only the rest of camp, but the season. Things during these first few days, in my opinion, are vital to what we do throughout the year."