JACKSONVILLE — Another blue-collar practice for the Jacksonville State football team on Thursday morning led the Gamecocks into their first off day of the fall and wrapped up preparations for Saturday’s first scrimmage of camp.

The Gamecocks held an upbeat and physical practice on their practice fields before the afternoon heat rolled in, and head coach John Grass said that played a factor in how well his team performed.

“The guys like practicing in the morning,” he said. “You can get it done while it’s a little cooler and then you can rest that afternoon, watch film that night and rest to get ready for the next day.”

It was the ninth straight day on the practice field for the Gamecocks, who took what Grass called a much-needed day off Friday. Saturday afternoon will be the team’s first scrimmage of camp, and he sees his team fighting through whatever is put in front of them to be ready for the next step.

“It ended a tough week,” Grass said. “We are a little leg-dead, but I thought we pushed through it and I like how this team is pushing through the walls each day. I don’t see any complaining, just guys getting the job done.”

That fatigue is something every team in the nation experiences, but Grass says it is how you overcome it and recover between workouts that separates teams across the country. He hopes the Gamecocks are setting themselves up for a big year in that regard.

“Recovery is the key to the game, and we have been doing a good job of that,” he said.

“Even without a day off, we’ve alternated our practices, and our training staff has done a great job of taking care of our guys. Along with that, our players have bought in to the importance of that, so everyone is doing good job of taking care of each other.”

Grass and his staff are excited to see their team Saturday in what will be the most live-action situations they’ve been in so far this fall.

“We would like to get up there to 90 plays or more and really see where we are,” Grass said. “We will do some to-the-ground stuff but not for the whole scrimmage.”

JSU opens the season at Southeastern Louisiana on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. The Gamecocks’ home opener is Sept. 7 vs. Chattanooga.

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