CAMP REPORT #14: ISU Defense Left Seeing Red
Aug. 10, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State offense began Sunday afternoon's scrimmage with an impressive flurry of scores thanks to its stable of running backs and the catching ability of junior wide receiver Eyad Salem, as the Redbird tailbacks combined to average 5.9 yards per rush, while Salem hauled in three touchdown grabs to highlight the 178-play intrasquad scrimmage.
The scrimmage began with the ball placed at the defense's 2-yard line and the Redbirds in their goal-line offense. With Kevin Brockway under center, ISU scored on three of the four plays, including a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs by Geno Blow and the third by Brockway, himself, on a quarterback keeper. Brockway completed 10-of-21 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns during the entire scrimmage.
Preston Earl followed suit and led the ISU offense to scores on both of his two snaps, which included 2-yard runs by both Clifton Gordon and Earl. Gordon added his second touchdown of the day with Drew Kiel at quarterback, but Kiel was sacked by Tom Speer on the second play for a defensive stop. In total, of the eight plays from the 2-yard line, the Redbird offense scored on six of them.
Facing first-and-goal from the defense's 8-yard line, Brockway again led the offense to a pair of scores with an 8-yard TD run by Parrish Fisher and an 8-yard pass to Salem. Earl led the offense to a 26-yard Steven Fetzer field goal, while Gordon took the handoff from Kiel for another touchdown run; this one for eight yards. Gordon finished with 78 yards on 16 carries, while Fisher was the leading rusher with 116 yards on 15 attempts.
The Redbird offense continued its dominance in the red zone, this time from the 17-yard line, as Brockway scored on a 17-yard option play on the first play from scrimmage. On Brockway's next series, he connected with Salem on a 17-yard touchdown pass, again on first down.
Earl also led the Redbirds to a pair of touchdowns from the 17-yard line. Walter Mendenall took the ball off left tackle and ran 17 yards for a touchdown on first down, and Fisher ran for a 16-yard touchdown on the next series. Kiel also led the Redbirds on a 3-play, 17-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown catch by Casey Cline.
Zach Kutch also added a 22-yard field goal, to end Brockway's drive which began at the defense's 10-yard line. In all, the ISU offense owned a 16-for-18 success rate in the red zone, including 14 touchdowns.
Fortunately for the defense, the offense slowed down once it had to drive the length of the field. The offense still had success, but at a slower rate. With the ball at the offense's 1-yard line, Kiel connected with Warren McCarty for a 99-yard touchdown pass. McCarty also added a 10-yard touchdown catch later in the scrimmage, this time from Earl. McCarty ended the day with four catches for a team-high 125 yards.
Kiel led the Redbird quarterbacks with 253 yards passing after completing 10-of-14 attempts. Earl was 11-for-22 with 103 yards.
Salem rounded out all the offensive touchdowns with a 41-yard touchdown catch from Kiel. Salem finished with five catches for 78 yards and three touchdowns. Marcus King led all ISU receivers with six catches for 65 yards.
During the two-minute drill to end the scrimmage, Earl led the offense down the field for a 24-yard Fetzer field goal. Kiel put the offense in a similar position on the next drive, but Kutch missed the 39-yard field goal attempt.
The defense did elevate its intensity later in the scrimmage. Antonio Adams led the team with 11 tackles, including nine solo stops, while Josh Howe posted 10. Brandon Wilson notched three quarterback sacks, and E.J. Jones picked off a Matt Brown pass for the defense's lone interception.
"Overall, I was disappointed with the scrimmage," said head coach Denver Johnson. "There were too many peaks and valleys. There were good things and good plays on both sides, but the consistency wasn't there. We were able to get a number of plays in and everybody got a good dose of it. We will have a lot of things on film to look at and make some decisions and adjustments."
The Redbirds were whistled for 13 penalties during the scrimmage, including six false-start infractions against the ISU offense. One of the biggest penalties was an off-setting personal foul penalty against both wide receiver Kelvin Chandler and cornerback Jason Tate, following a shoving match where both were ejected.
The Illinois State football team returns to practice Monday, to begin the final week of training camp.