By JJ Gerlach | for Alamosa Citizen

THE Adams State Grizzlies officially opened summer training camp Wednesday. The Grizzlies, who finished last year with a disappointing record of 1-10 as well as just 1-8 in conference play, will be looking for improvement under second-year head coach Jarrell Harrison. 

Talking Wednesday with Harrison, he shed some light on questions about the season. When asked what he was liking on day one, he said, “I liked the effort on both sides of the football. Sometimes the effort is there without the execution, so we just gotta get both.”

Luckily for the coach, training camp is the time for teams to iron out the kinks, and seeing real effort is a great sign for day one.

There also are questions about improvements coming from his coaching coordinators, as there is a new play caller in defensive coordinator Kai Ellis, who joined the staff in the winter of 2017-18 season. Harrison said he was “expecting a little more continuity, a little more execution” of his second-year staff.

The Grizzlies will have from now until Sept. 3 to get into game shape. It’s then that they travel to Silver City, N.M., for the season opener against Western New Mexico University. 

Adams State then enjoys back-to-back home games against West Texas A&M and Colorado School of Mines. Last year the Grizzlies lost both to Western New Mexico and Mines, their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rival, so they will be looking for revenge come September.

A big question for this year is how Adams State can improve on third down on both sides of the ball. A year ago the Grizzlies offense converted only 35 percent of its third down plays, and the defense gave up a first down 50 percent of the time on third down. Harrison said that has to change this season.

“We just gotta harp on it, we gotta coach it and we gotta talk about it,” he said. “We’re calling it a key down, we gotta convert when we get the ball and we gotta get off the field when we’re on defense.”

An improvement here would be a huge difference for the Grizzlies, as they finished seventh in the conference last year on offensive conversion and were in last place on defensive third down conversion.

We’ll be writing about the Grizzlies throughout pre-season camp.