NATCHITOCHES – Consistency has been head coach Brad Laird’s message to his Northwestern State football team throughout the first half of the 2019 season.
As the second half kicks off Saturday at 6:07 p.m. in a Southland Conference Homecoming matchup against No. 13 Central Arkansas (4-2, 2-1), Laird has embodied that trait in communicating with the Demons (0-6, 0-3).
“I told them (Sunday) night, tough times don’t last, tough people do,” Laird said. “What we’ve shown at different times through six games excites me about this football team. We’ve seen what we, as coaches and players, can be when we execute and do what we’re supposed to be. We have to focus on what we can control today. We can’t control being 0-6. We can control being 1-0 this week, and that’s our focus.”
Saturday’s game can be seen on Cox Sports Television or ESPN+ and can be heard on The Demon Sports Network, flagshipped by 94.9 FM The River in Natchitoches and including 710 AM KEEL in Shreveport and 105.5 KBUCK in Alexandria. Free steaming audio also is available on www.NSUDemons.com and through the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded free through Google Play or the Apple Store.
The Demons’ search for consistency will run into another ranked opponent for the second straight week and the fifth time in the first seven games of 2019.
Central Arkansas brings with it a knack for squeezing out victories with second-half comebacks.
The Bears’ four victories have come by an average of 6.3 points per game. In a 31-30 win against Abilene Christian on Sept. 14, the Bears scored 22 fourth-quarter points. That came two weeks after scoring the final 21 points – all in the fourth quarter – of a 35-28 win at Western Kentucky.
Central Arkansas’ ability to close out games and to keep pressure on its opponents is what Laird said he wants to see from his team.
“We had a chance to tie the game in the first half at Nicholls last Saturday,” Laird said. “We got down 31-7 in the second half and cut it to 38-28 and got the ball with a chance to make it a one-score game. Those are the times we have to put the pressure back on them. We have not been able to do that.
“There are no moral victories in coming back. We’ve shown what we’re capable of doing, but one of the words we talked about before that game was consistency – in our effort, energy and execution. Those are things we have to do for 60 minutes to be successful against good football teams.”
Laird’s message of consistency has filtered down to the NSU locker room.
“We have to be consistent in all three phases,” said junior receiver Gavin Landry, who ranks third on the team with 25 catches. “We felt like we left points on the board at Nicholls. We put up good stats, but after watching film, we realized it wasn’t enough. We’re going to keep pushing and look for a good environment with everyone coming in.
“We’ve got another top-25 team coming in. It’s a great opportunity, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Photo: Head coach Brad Laird (center) talks to his team following this past Saturday’s game at Nicholls. The Demons host No. 13 Central Arkansas at 6:07 p.m. Saturday. Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services