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Spring Practice #5 Report

Eric Williams is counting on the o-line to set the pace up front

As has been the case all spring, Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo sits down with the BSU media relations office after practice and allows some Q’s and the respective A’s to come to light about the progress of the Cards and the advancement of the Lembo doctrine in Muncie. Tuesday marked day #5 of spring practice, and the resumption of activity after a couple of days of off-field work, weights, and voluntary type of activities, which if you played for Rich Rodriguez would be totally and brutally mandatory.

Per the BSU release…

The players had 2 days off the field, how did they respond?
We all walked off the field with a good feeling about this afternoon’s session. We certainly made some mistakes along the way, but this practice had a very good tempo. It really felt like we were starting to become a team out there. Guys are getting used to the structure of our practices and the fast pace of the team periods. In addition, I really felt like our players were competing. Moving through practice with consistent energy and enthusiasm is something we can control every day. Our quarterbacks had their best day of practice today. When you can throw and catch a little bit, it makes for a better overall session.

You have expressed concern about depth on the offensive line. How is that position group performing?
I am very pleased with how coachable this group has been so far. They are good kids who seem to be connecting well with Coach Strollo. We have some athletic tackles in Austin Holtz and Matthew Page. Those guys look the part, but they need to get stronger this summer. Cameron Lowry is sidelined with a knee injury, but he is staying plugged in mentally. I am looking forward to getting Dan Manick back in the lineup. He was limited last week with a hamstring injury. Kitt O’Brien and Kreg Hunter have been steady at guard and Jerrod Gray is showing improvement at center. We are cross training Kreg Hunter at center as well. We have a number of other guys who are working hard, but I wish we had three or four more suited up for us right now. I heard today that the University of Florida is down to seven healthy offensive linemen, so I guess we should not complain about our numbers.

How is the installation of a new offensive system going?
We are not just installing new schemes, we are also introducing new signals, cadences and procedures at the line of scrimmage. While all this is happening, you have to keep preparing the offensive players for additional looks from the defense. You can’t expect the defense to sit still, because they have their schedule to stick to as well. That being said, we have had a relatively low number of assignment mistakes throughout the spring. That is a credit to our players and their commitment to learning every day. The challenge is to become more detailed and it is good to see some guys making progress. Two of our tailbacks are sidelined with nagging injuries right now. We need to get those guys back quickly before they fall behind.

I think it’s entirely appropriate that this particular update was entirely offensive in nature. That side of the football is where most of the “big things” for 2011 reside. Things like big potential and big talent, but also things like big questions and big concerns. As has been the case at BSU for the last couple years, as the offensive line goes, so goes the Cardinals. The arguments and questions about schemes, starting QBs, and offensive efficiency becomes a relative moot point unless the hogmollies up front can open up holes for the rush, protect whomever gets dubbed the starter, and impede the opposing defense from shatting all over the gameplan. It’s early, but it’s positive, and progress and positivity at this point in the spring season are relatively unfamiliar territory around BSU football.

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