The Jacksonville State football team wrapped up its week of practice Thursday in full pads in preparation for the third scrimmage of the fall on Saturday.

It was the third practice in a row the Gamecocks were on the field for the allotted two-hour time slot. Head coach John Grass pushed his team this week, looking to build up the squad’s calluses before the start of the 2020 season.

“We got after it and we needed to, for sure,” Grass said. “We need to get into game shape. We tried to create every situation we could that was game-like, and we’re trying to get better at blocking and tackling. We’re coming along there, and I think today was the best day we’ve had and we were physical. It really sounded like football out here, so that’s what we want. Tomorrow is a recovery day so that we can have a great scrimmage on Saturday. We’re going to be ready for a lot of plays on Saturday.”

Following the physical Thursday practice, Grass said the team reacted well to the tough outing. The head coach hopes the long sessions have prepped the Gamecocks for a grueling weekend intrasquad.

“I think they did well,” Grass said. “They’re continuing to build a tolerance to these long days. That’s what you want to see. Without a true fall camp, it’s kind of hard to see that. We’ve had so many pauses and things like that, but we’re getting into a rhythm with it. I see a lot of growth day-to-day and that’s what we’re looking for.”

And despite some hard practices in the books, Grass said the Gamecocks have managed to stay injury free throughout the fall.

“We aren’t getting too banged up. You’re going to have your normal stuff, but if you can do that and somehow be fortunate enough to stay healthy, that’s key. We want to get through Saturday with no injuries but be very physical.”

Expected to run between 120 and 130 snaps on Saturday, Grass wants the scrimmage to be as close to a game-like setting as possible. Jax State will be facing a Florida State team in its opener on Oct. 3 that will have already played games against Georgia Tech and Miami.

“We have to make up for not playing games. When the first opponent you play is going to have two games under their belt, you have to play some snaps. We’re trying to gauge that in the right way, and we still have some guys learning spots. Saturday will help decide who is going to make the dress list and who we trust to play.”

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