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Spring Practice #6 Report

Andrew Puthoff leads the thin defensive line for the Cardinals

The Cardinals wrapped up Spring Practice #6 Wednesday, and head coach Pete Lembo sat down with the BSU media staff for the usual questions and answers. The release…

We talked yesterday about the offensive line, how is the defensive line progressing with some holes to fill due to graduation from last year?
Much like the offensive line, we are very thin in numbers along the defensive front. We moved Ethan Buckles, Ryan Hartke and Joel Cox there during the offseason and we recently moved Lorren Womack as well. Incredibly, we are still only two deep or so at those four positions. The good news is all these guys are getting plenty of work and individual attention each day in practice. There’s nowhere to hide. Rising senior Adam Morris has been very steady on the inside so far this spring. Nathan Ollie and Donovan Jarrett are both very talented and show flashes. If we can get them in better shape and they become more detailed players, the future will be bright for both of them. Senior defensive end Andrew Puthoff has been non-contact all spring due to offseason wrist surgery. Rising sophomore Matthew Mosley has some physical tools and a good work ethic. We will need him to grow up in a hurry at defensive end. We signed three defensive ends and one defensive tackle. We will need to sign another four or five players up front this coming year so we can build some depth and increase competition for playing time.

As we near the midpoint of Spring Practice, what is being done behind the scenes from a recruiting standpoint?
As we discussed last week, our staff works at recruiting every day in some capacity. This is an important time of year to evaluate juniors and encourage them to visit our campus unofficially. We continue to have some quality prospects attending our practices on a daily basis and today was no exception. We were very pleased to receive our first verbal commitment from a high profile in-state recruit just this evening. It is certainly a great start to what will be our first full year of recruiting here at Ball State. Our recruiting plan is in place and it is already bearing fruit. It is also great to see a number of high school coaches on hand for practice each day. Many are from the local high schools, but others are visiting from all over Indiana. We want to develop close relationships with these coaches and make them feel welcome in the Fisher Football Complex. If they leave with a good feeling about our staff’s sincerity and accessibility, it can only help us build the program.

In the offensive system, how will you being using the tight ends and how is the competition at that position?
The tight end and fullback positions have important roles to play in the overall balance of our offense. However, two of the more experienced players at tight end – Zane Fakes and David Schneider – are out this spring because of injuries sustained in the fall. Aaron Mershman is a converted quarterback who is bright, physical and has a good work ethic. Jacob Greene and Derek Orr are getting a lot of repetitions in practice each day. They have to take advantage of these opportunities and earn the trust of their teammates. We signed a true fullback in this year’s class and added another good sized tight end, so the competition will certainly pick up in August. Our offensive system gives us the flexibility to use a lot of tight ends and fullbacks. That is definitely our preference. However, we can also reduce their usage as well. It’s all about getting the best people on the field based on the situation.

After an entirely offensive update yesterday, we get a small peak at the defense, or more importantly, some tangible details regarding the defensive line and the depth or lack thereof on it. The specific mentions that Lembo has undertaken in this update seem to speak in a similar chord as most every other position specific examination on either side of the ball in that the players that are there are progressing and advancing, it’s simply a question of whether the gains made in this offseason will be enough to see a tangible difference in results and performance on the field come fall. Two areas of concern last year with lack of depth and lack of experience were certainly the tight end and fullback roles, but with Eddie Faulkner and Stan Parrish the fullback was basically nonexistent and unimportant. That apparently will not be the case in the Lembo regime. On the recruiting front, there has been no trickle of who this mysterious verbal is. We’ve got some feelers out, and when we know, you’ll know. Probably best to check the old OTP Twitter for breaking stuff.

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