NATCHITOCHES - The Northwestern State football team will get plenty of work in Saturday morning in its final major scrimmage before next Thursday evening's Joe Delaney Bowl spring game, although Demons coach Bradley Dale Peveto will oversee only 65 plays from scrimmage during the two-hour session beginning at 10 a.m. in Turpin Stadium.
Last weekend NSU had eight healthy offensive linemen and staged an 84-snap scrimmage, but veterans Blayne Cole and Issac Puapuaga were sidelined this week. The remaining six capable linemen will rotate in five 13-play 11-on-11 scrimmage periods and step aside for extensive 7-on-7 pass skeleton competition and special teams work Saturday morning.
"With six offensive linemen available, it is what it is, and this way we will not overwork those guys and we will still get a bunch done," said Peveto. "After going 13 plays, they'll get about a 15-minute rest.
"We'll go 13 plays, have a 10-play (pass) skel, work special teams, then 13 plays, a 15-play skel, work special teams. Then we'll scrimmage 13 plays, have a 15-play skel, work special teams, and come back with 13 plays, and a 10-minute skel.
"We'll do a blitz skel, red zone skel, field skel, go one more 13 play period, then we'll do field goals with a snapper-holder-kicker, and finally we'll do four-minute drill and we'll be done."
It is likely a similar format will be used for the Delaney Bowl next Thursday, he said.
Making up a rainout by adding a practice this week, NSU got in four practices and the offense's progress was apparent, said Peveto.
"We're learning to finish. Our offense has looked extremely sharp. I think it's the best week of practice our offense has had since I've been here," he said. "That's not taking anything away from the defense, but the offense has played hurt, they've played tough and they've executed. They've done some great things. It's been a good physical week of competition, a good week of practice."
Special teams work is on track, said Peveto. The Demons return kicker John Shaughnessy and punter Nic Russo, along with kick returner Phillip Harvey and punt returner Kevin Shief. Stepping into the deep snapper's job should be senior Justin Warner, with senior receiver Spencer Harrell handling the placement duties for kicks.
"We've gotten a lot done, installed every phase, we have all our base stuff put in, and worked 4-5 deep at every position, getting everybody a lot of reps, so I feel good about it," he said.
Although the personnel shortages on the offensive line are frustrating, Peveto believes time will take care of the situation.
"These aren't career-threatening injuries, but they are injuries that need time whether it's days or weeks to heal. We have a lot of help coming in with our signing class and so combining all of these guys back good to go and the new faces, this should not be a problem in August. We have a good number of veteran players with four returning starters, so it's not as if many guys are missing reps they can't afford to miss," he said.