Spring Report #1: Redbirds Begin with Clean Slate
March 25, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State football team took the field for the first of 15 spring practices Tuesday, at Hancock Stadium, as the Redbirds worked out for 24, five-minute periods without pads.
With last season's 4-7 record behind them, head coach Denver Johnson and the Redbirds started the building process for the 2008 season.
"It was a beautiful, sunny day to be out here," said Johnson. "Nice temperatures, a little windy, but other than that it was a perfect day. The teams' attitude seems to be really good and the spirits are high. We're excited to be out here."
After implementing some offensive plays, the Redbirds worked on some special teams, including extra points. With Steven Fetzer, Tyler Funk and Kevin Mazur handling the kicking duties, Warren McCarty, Preston Earl and Bobby Kelsey each alternated putting down the snap from Joe Doyle.
Later in practice, during the 7-on-7 drill, senior quarterback Kevin Brockway completed five of his 11 pass attempts, but was intercepted by redshirt freshman Mark Martin. Sophomore Preston Earl and redshirt freshman Drew Kiel each completed 4-of-7 passes, while redshirt freshman Sam Donatucci was 2-for-3. Earl did throw an interception when senior safety Tom Nelson leaped to pick off an errant pass.
Redshirt freshman Cody White was the most popular target with three catches during the drill, while Garin Harcar and Kevett Mickle each added two grabs apiece.
Johnson worked thoroughly with the offensive linemen and assessed the unit following practice.
"We don't have a lot of bodies there, but I think we have some talent," said Johnson. "It is hard to do too much with the guys without any pads on, so (today) was really insertion and talking about footwork, technique and mental focus."
First-year defensive coordinator David Ross began implementing his defense Tuesday.
"We started our path to fixing some things (defensively) and introduced some new concepts," said Ross. "We spent a lot of time introducing some new drills, particularly tackling-circuit drills, take-away-circuit drills and a new concept of pursuit drills to fit with what we are doing defensively."
The Redbirds will continue to make strides in becoming fundamentally sound Thursday, when the team takes the field in shells for the second practice of the spring.