Written by Eric Jackson
The Valdosta State football team is one step closer to the fall after the completion of spring practice.
The Blazers concluded the 14 practice schedule with the Spring Game this past Saturday.
A trip to the Georgia State Capitol, to commemorate the national champions, and making a team ‘Harlem Shake’ video were some fun additions to this year’s spring outings however everything on the gridiron remained the same as last year.
“Coach Dean likes doing it like he’s done in the past it obviously works so it was pretty much the same,” quarterback Cayden Cochran said. “We had good intensity. I think there is a different kind of focus this year now because we have something behind us pushing us to go get it again.”
Spring practice is generally the time for players to jump back into the swing of things giving certain players chances to standout and show their worth during drills and scrimmages.
VSU will rejoin together during the summer for workouts and conditioning before official practice begins in August.
The 2013 schedule, which is not finalized, has already received plenty of glances from the Blazers.
VSU will head to in-region Fort Valley to face the Wildcats for the season opener (9/7).
Following the season’s only bye-week, the Blazers kick-off the next three games at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Shorter University will be the visitors for week three (9/21), in its first time at VSU, then non-conference Angelo State (9/28), who the Blazers defeated last season in Cowboys Stadium, and VSU concludes the home-stand with Gulf South Conference newcomer Florida Tech (10/5).
The next four games are crucial for the Blazers competing against the conferences’ other top-tier teams.
The first two of those four are on the road against defending GSC champs West Alabama (10/12) and the next in Carrolton for annual ‘Peach Basket’ versus West Georgia (10/19).
The Blazers settle in back home the following week against North Alabama (10/26) before hitting the road again to Cleveland, Miss. to face Delta State (11/2).
Cochran, who is preparing for his final season, understands the importance of doing well during the peak of the schedule.
“I never played at West Alabama before so that’s going to be a big one and Delta (State) again,” he said. “That West Alabama trip, that West Georgia trip, and that Delta (State) trip are huge and that’s going to make or break our season.”
A pair of non-conference games concludes the regular season.
After the away game against DSU, the Blazers come back home against UNC-Pembroke (11/9), this will be the first ever meeting between the two schools.
The finale will take place over a thousand miles away from Valdosta at Texas A&M Kingsville (11/16).
Again, dates and times for these games are still subject to change.
The Blazers look to become the first team in school history to win back-to-back national championships.
“We’re coming out with the bull’s eye on our back, bigger than always,” Safety Chris Caspari said. “We’re just ready to prove ourselves again that we’re number one for a reason. It will be difficult if we come out with our heads too big coming thinking we’re national champs. We still got to work harder like we’re the worst team in the country trying to get back to the top so we still got to have that drive.”