Spring Report #14: Redbirds Prep for Red-White Game
April 17, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - For the third-straight day, the Illinois State football team practiced at Hancock Stadium, but Thursday's 24-period session carried a little extra energy with the annual Red-White Scrimmage just two days away (Saturday).
Facing third-and-four, the Redbird offense garnered first-down distances on nine of the 15 snaps. Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Kiel led the Redbirds to four first downs on his five snaps from center. During the drill, the ISU running game accounted for five of the first downs, as Geno Blow gained three and Cortes Rice and Cliffton Gordon each rushed for one. Defensively, Ray Sankey recorded a quarterback sack to account for one of the six stops.
Facing a third-and-eight situation earlier in practice, the ISU offense collected seven first downs on 12 snaps. Senior Kevin Brockway guided the Redbirds to six first downs on eight snaps, while passing 5-for-7. One of his passes, a bubble screen to Kelvin Chandler, would have gone for a touchdown had the play not been whistled dead.
ISU's offensive coordinator Jim Williams was pleased with the passing game at Thursday's practice and hopes to see it continue to improve at Saturday's Red-White Scrimmage.
"I'm looking for more consistency," said Williams. "I really feel good about where our running game is right now, and hopefully our passing game will continue to stay on track like it was (Thursday). I want to see us being better on first and second down and not being in third-and-long so much."
Defensively, coordinator David Ross wants to see the Redbirds play aggressively.
"We hope to have a better idea of what our identity needs to be on certain downs and certain distances," said Ross. "I want to see us grasp the new concepts that we put in this spring and to see us play hard with a lot of heart and a lot of passion."
During the 7-on-7 drill, Brockway completed 8-of-12 passes, while Kiel had the hot hand with a 9-for-10 effort. Preston Earl completed 7-of-10 passes, but threw an interception to Tom Nelson after some miscommunication with his receiver. Senior tight end Kedric Meredith made the catch of the drill with a one-armed grab, as linebacker Mark Martin held on to his other arm.
Nelson caught his first interception of the practice during the one-on-one drill, when he picked off a pass from Joe DeVries. Eyad Salem hauled in five catches to lead the receivers, but another one-handed grab, this time by Marcus King, drew some cheers from the offense. Nelson added a pass breakup, while Kelvyn Hemphill posted two. Brockway finished the one-on-one drill completing 3-of-10 passes and Earl and Kiel were both 6-for-9.
During period two, the Redbirds worked on extra-point tries and field-goal attempts. Steven Fetzer was a perfect 6-for-6 on PATs, while Kevin Mazur split the uprights on five of his six kicks. Mazur was perfect on three field-goal attempts from 39 yards out and Fetzer converted two of his three tries.
The Redbirds will conclude their spring practice Saturday with the annual Red-White Scrimmage. The intrasquad game will begin at 1 p.m., inside Hancock Stadium.