Spring Report #6: Redbird Quarterbacks Fair Game
April 4, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - There was something missing at Friday's Illinois State football practice - the quarterbacks' blue jerseys. As a result everyone was up for grabs during the team period, which highlighted the Redbirds' 24, five-minute period workout at Hancock Stadium.
"We wanted to liven up our quarterbacks a little bit," said head coach Denver Johnson. "It is a little different when you don't have a blue jersey on. When you have a live jersey on, it puts a little different mindset in the quarterbacks mind and we wanted to see how they responded to that. I think it served its purpose."
The ISU offensive line really stepped up to the challenge of protecting the Redbird quarterbacks, as they were pretty much untouched until the last few snaps of the team period. Senior Kevin Brockway completed 2-of-7 passes during the scrimmage and threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown by Graham Corcoran. Preston Earl and Drew Kiel each completed 2-of-4 pass attempts.
"Initially, I don't know if (the quarterbacks) were ever apprehensive or not, but I didn't think that they showed it," said Jim Williams, ISU's offensive coordinator. "I thought they responded pretty well. We still had a quick whistle, so they weren't taking a lot of shots, but we just needed to get them in that mindset of not being protected and making decisions based on that."
Former tight end and current defensive end Bert Whigham made the first contact with a Redbird quarterback when he hit Earl from the blindside during his throwing motion to break up the pass. Ray Sankey collected the defense's only quarterback sack when he brought down Kiel. Casey Kociuba and Tom Speer each added pass breakups.
Geno Blow opened up the scrimmage with a 20-yard run up the middle of the Redbird defense. His second run was whistled dead after a 25-yard gain, but the junior tailback would have probably finished with an 80-yard touchdown run. Parrish Fisher also added a pair of 10-yard gains, while Cortes Rice gained 20 yards off a screen pass.
On the second-to-last snap of the scrimmage, an explosive run block by J.D. Hoyt, a recently converted fullback from a linebacker, sent cheers through the offensive unit.
"J.D. is a hard-hitter, quick and explosive, and we want to get him on the field," said Williams. "That block he had during the team period was the only play he learned today."
Prior to the team period, the Redbirds went toe-to-toe in the 7-on-7 drill. Brockway completed 5-of-8 passes, while Earl was 5-for-7 and Kiel was 2-of-5. Eyad Salem and Matt Mose were the leading receivers with three catches apiece.
The quarterbacks and receivers also worked out against the cornerbacks during the one-on-one drill. Brockway completed 4-of-10 passes, while Earl was 4-for-9 and Kiel was 5-of-9. Drew Kempe was the leading receiver during this session with six catches and Kelvin Chandler and Warren McCarty each added five receptions apiece. Antonio Adams had three pass breakups and Kelvyn Hemphill and Jason Tate each added one.
To open practice, Steven Fetzer, Kevin Mazur and Tyler Funk were each 2-for-2 on extra point tries. After moving out to 42-yard field goal distance, Fetzer and Funk were each 2-for-3, while Mazur was 1-for-3.
During punt team, Bobby Kelsey averaged 35.7 yards on three punts, while Levi Dyer averaged 40 yards on his two kicks and Mazur averaged 39 yards per punt.
The Redbirds will return to Hancock Stadium Saturday for the second of three-straight practice days.