Camp Report #22: Redbirds End Camp on a High Note
Jason Horton
Jason Horton

Aug. 18, 2007

NORMAL, Ill. - Capping a grueling two-and-a-half weeks of training camp, the Illinois State football team finished camp with an intrasquad scrimmage in front of 6,500 fans and incoming Illinois State freshmen students at Hancock Stadium Saturday night.

"I thought we did some great things defensively, and we can really run," head coach Denver Johnson said. "I thought we executed pretty well offensively in the first half of the scrimmage and that intensity level kind of left us in the second half. We'll look at the film and make some personnel decisions, and we'll know going into Tuesday pretty much who is going to be starting the first ball game for us."

In the first half, with a 30-minute running clock, senior quarterback Luke Drone drove the Redbirds the length of the field before connecting with Kevett Mickle on a 25-yard touchdown pass along the right sideline. Junior kicker Kevin Mazur added the point after.

"I thought the first-team offense came out fast. We executed (well)," Drone said. "All of the guys were doing what they were supposed to do. That's all that you can ask for; guys doing what they are supposed to do. When that happens, good things tend to happen.

"The fade touchdown pass happened on a run play we had called, and I saw a man out there, Kevett Mickle, and I gave him the fade. One-on-one, we expect to win those match-ups. I just threw it up to him and he made a good play."

The Redbird offense scored nine minutes later when Cortes Rice punched into the end zone from one-yard out. The Redbirds were successful on the two-point conversion as Preston Earl's fade-away pass was hauled in by Eyad Salem in the back corner of the end zone.

Following the intermission, Johnson orchestrated situations for the Redbird offense. During the red-zone drill, with the ball placed on the defense's 30-yard line and a new first-and-10, the offense scored its only touchdown on a Rafael Rice 2-yard run.

"I was a little disappointed with the second half of the scrimmage, but the first half went pretty well," Johnson said. "When you come back out from the intermission, you try to work on your special teams and that kind of breaks the rhythm. I thought the second half was not very sharp, but we had a heck of a pillow fight. All and all, I think we have had a great camp, and probably the best camp we have ever had."

Mazur booted a pair of 32-yard field goals, while Nate Funk made one. Mazur and Funk also each belted a 42-yard kick through the uprights. On the night, Mazur was 3-for-6 in field goal attempts, missing from 42 yards out twice and 32 yards once, while Funk was 2-for-5, with misses from 45 yards and a pair of misses from 32 yards out, including one that was blocked by Babatunde Soyebo.

"There are a number of things that we need to work on, I was really disappointed in our field goal kicking and I thought that during the past week in practice that it had really improved," Johnson said. I" don't think we hit one tonight until we sat there and kicked. That concerns me as well as all of our special teams. They are nowhere near where they need to be, so we will have to really bear down and work on that once we start back up."

After the rapid-fire field goal exchange, the Redbirds resumed the drill and true freshmen Keenan Wimbley disrupted the offensive flow with three successive quarterback sacks.

"The sacks came from listening to coach (Patton)," Wimbley said. "Coach Patton let me change my stance, and I'm just happy that he gave me that opportunity."

The No.7-ranked Redbirds will open the season on Aug. 30, when they host Drake. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.


  • Kelvin Chandler, Micah Gordon, Kevin Brockway, Kaschiev Hunter, Brent Holtz, Wesley Williams, Casey Kociuba and Antwan Ryles were all sidelined with various injuries.
  • Linebacker Pat Cucci left the scrimmage earlier with a right knee sprain.

    RUSHING: Fisher 11-60, R. Rice 14-57, Blow 14-50, C. Rice 12-46, Kpandeyenge 6-10, Drone 3-6, Earl 4-5, Kiel 5-(-10).

    PASSING: Drone 10-16-0-86, Earl 6-9-0-57, Kiel 6-7-0-40, Donatucci 3-5-0-21.

    RECEPTIONS: Salem 4-34, Harcar 4-23, Horton 3-41, Rourke 3-15, Kempe 2-14,Mickle 1-25, R. Rice 1-15, King 1-10, Weiner 1-8, Whigham 1-7, McCarty 1-5, , White 1-5Kpandeyenge 1-4, Fisher 1-(-2).

    TACKLES: Garrett 8-2-10, Hronec 2-8-10, Trujillo 2-8-10, Wimbley 4-4-8, Siskowic 3-5-8, Sheering 2-6-8, Williams 3-3-6, Corcoran 4-2-6, Stewart 3-2-5, Wilson 2-3-5, Sankey 1-4-5, Hemphill 3-1-4, Tate 2-1-3, Cucci 0-1-1, Paschal 1-2-3, Caesar 2-3-5, Westbrook 1-4-5, Rivas 1-3-4, Soyebo 1-3-4, James 1-2-3, Whitaker 3-0-3, Martin 0-3-3, Blankenship 0-3-3, Thompkinis 2-0-2, Roberts 1-1-2, Piton 0-2-2, Mitchell 1-1-2, Malcolm 1-1-2, Speer 1-1-2, Nelson 1-1-2, Thomas 0-1-1, Howe 1-0-1, Grayson 0-1-1, Kelsey 1-0-1.

    TACKLES FOR LOSS: Wimbley 3, Trujillo 2, Wilson 2, Hronec 1, Williams 1, Whitaker 1, Rivas 1, Soyebo 1, Sankey 1, Sheering 1, Piton 1.

    SACKS: Wimbley 3, Trujillo 1, Whitaker 1, Soyebo 1


    PASS BREAKUPS: Sheering 2, Garrett 1, Cucci 1, Siskowic 1, Caesar 1.

    22:47 - Drone 25-yard pass to Mickle (Mazur kick)
    13:17 - C. Rice 1-yard run (Earl pass to Salem)
    Second Half - R. Rice 2-yard run (Funk kick)
    Second Half - Mazur 32-yard field goal
    Second Half - Funk 32-yard field goal
    Second Half - Mazur 32-yard field goal
    Second Half - Funk 42-yard field goal
    Second Half - Mazur 42-yard field goal