Spring Report #5: Situational Scrimmage Gets Defensive
April 1, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State defense stymied the Redbird offense during a situational scrimmage to end the football team's Tuesday practice at Hancock Stadium.
The Redbirds worked out in shells for 24, five-minute periods, but ended the practice with a three-period situational scrimmage. Facing third-and-eight, the Redbird offense collected first-down plays twice in nine tries, including the first play from scrimmage when Kevin Brockway connected with Eyad Salem on a post route for a 12-yard gain.
With a third-and-five spot, the defense continued to shine by only allowing two first-down plays over 16 snaps. Brockway and Drew Kiel were a combined 0-for-6 passing, while Jason Tate and Antonio Adams each notched pass breakups. The Redbird offense went to the ground both times to collect first downs, as Geno Blow had an 8-yard run and Cortes Rice added a 6-yard gain.
"For our first shot at a third-down situation, we did some different things and we are trying to build an identity on that down," said David Ross, ISU's defensive coordinator. "We threw some new wrinkles in, and evidently by the way we performed, we did a few things pretty well (Tuesday)."
Earlier in the practice, during the 7-on-7 drill, Brockway completed 4-of-9 passes and Preston Earl was 7-for-10. Kiel finished completing 5-of-11, while Matt Mose was the leading receiver with four catches, including an acrobatic grab on the sideline.
The receivers also went one-on-one against the Redbird defensive backs earlier during Tuesday's workout. Brockway completed 4-of-8 passes during the drill, while Earl was 4-for-5. Kiel also completed 5-of-7 passes and Sam Donatucci was 5-for-6. Warren McCarty, Salem and Mose each led the receivers with three catches apiece.
The passing game was the focus all practice as the offensive linemen worked on pass blocking, while the running backs and H-backs did the same against the Redbird linebackers. Junior college transfer Khenon Hall, who began training camp at cornerback, spent Tuesday with the linebackers.
"We wanted to see Khenon's ability at corner, we think he can help us there, but we're also trying to develop some linebacker depth at the SAM," said Ross. "That is the kind of player we saw him as when we recruited him and signed him. I think he is going to be a lot more natural (at that position) and will be able to better utilize his talents."
Illinois State returns to practice Thursday for the sixth session of the spring.