New Grambling State University football coach Hue Jackson believes his team is on the right track after watching the Black Team defeat the Gold Team 7-6 in Saturday's annual GSU Spring Football Game held at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium.
However, there are huge decisions he and his staff need to make going forward, he said during a postgame interview.
“I think we are right on track as far as where I thought we’d be at this point in time. We have a lot of work to do, everybody knows that, but I am excited about where we are,” Jackson said.
“There are some huge decisions I have to make with the coaching staff as we move forward.”
In as much as this was a game, the coach uses it as a pressure practice to introduce junior players to the process and also learn how they perform in front of a crowd.
“That was our 15th practice. It's called a spring game, but it’s really a practice. There was a lot in the process I wanted them to understand, how we take the field before the game, how we go back at halftime, the adjustments we make, and the things we do. There’s a crowd here now, it’s no longer like a normal practice, it is a different type of pressure. I found out more information about the players and that’s what it’s (spring game) is all about.”
Jackson said that he is most impressed by the team’s work ethic, spirit, and commitment.
“What I like about our team is the energy and the spirit of our guys. I am glad that the guys every day lend themselves to coaching, they come to training and give everything they have,” Jackson said.
Based on the score of the spring game, it was clear that defense is a strength for this team.
“I think that it (the defense) is one of the strengths of our team. Our coaching staff on defense is strong; Coach (defensive coordinator Cedric) Thornton is one of the best in what he does,” Jackson pointed out.
The quarterback position remains an area of concern for the Tigers, which is why Jackson vowed to make it a priority moving forward.
“What I don’t like is that we don’t have an established quarterback right now, but that’s okay. I will make that a priority, and we’ll get that done in time,” said Jackson.
Players were not under scrutiny during the spring game, but Jackson said he was evaluating coaches, too.
“I tried to stay away from the offense. I just let Coach Simon have it with the staff because in these situations I am not only evaluating the players, I’m also evaluating the coaching staff,” Jackson stressed.
The team may not be where it needs to be, but Jackson is clear on what it will take for the team to get to the required level.
“To get to the level we need to get to, it will take coaching," Jackson said. "It will take my leadership, me coaching our coaches, creating the right environment for them to make the necessary decisions, and I do believe we are going to get there.”
The Tigers open their fall season against Arkansas State on Sept. 3 at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Arkansas.