NATCHITOCHES - Entering his third season as a starting defensive end at Northwestern State, senior Wade Williams has the utmost confidence the Demons accomplished what they needed to do during preseason camp, which ended Wednesday night with the team's third and final scrimmage this month.
Thursday, NSU began practicing against schemes used by Texas Tech, who will host the Demons next Saturday night at 6 in Lubbock in the season opener for both teams. Williams, a graduate student who was named the NSU Male Student-Athlete of the Year for 2011-12 recognizing his scholarship, athletic exploits and community service, believes the 22 preseason workouts were very productive for a unit that is replacing five departed starters.
"The defense has come to a refining period. That's what camp does for us. We see a lot of looks from our offense and I think our defense has come a long way," he said.
Williams and fellow seniors Derek Rose and Jamaal White have started the last three years. Eight of NSU's 11 defensive starters are juniors or seniors.
"Our age (as a defensive unit) is our strength. We have a lot of older guys with a lot of wisdom, a lot of experience, those little tricks and things we know from having played the game which make a difference," he said.
But there are new faces and emerging young players whom Williams sees as bolstering the traditionally-stout Purple Swarm defense.
"Some young guys have stepped up and are going to play for us. There are some talented new faces who are pushing us hard to get on the field. It's our responsibility to help them come along like the guys did when we were new here," he said. "They are going to make us better. You could see that (Wednesday night)."
Opening his senior year in his home state, and against a Big XII Conference team, has appeal to Williams, although his primary focus in the big picture is on the Southland Conference season that begins Sept. 29 at rival McNeese State.
"It's a pre-conference game, and conference is always the thing that excites me the most. I do love going back to Texas to play," said Williams. "I've always respected the Red Raiders. It's a great program all-around, a great university, a great facility, a great fan base. I'm looking forward to going there next weekend."
The Demons will practice Friday afternoon, then break for the weekend before starting game week work on Monday.