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Spring Practice #9 Report

As Coach Lembo attempts to bridge the BSU-Muncie gap, might I suggest a Chicago Dog for everyone? Just a thought...

Spring practice #9 in the books for the Cardinals on Tuesday and per usual, Coach Lembo was able to sit down with the media relations staff for some Q and A regarding the football Cards. I’ve mentioned in the past how refreshing it was to see the Cards do stuff like this, but I think it’s even more refreshing to have it not be chock full of useless coachspeak or sugar-coated facts to make everyone feel ok about the coming year. That’s a welcome change of pace from the last regime in Muncie.

One final word… Coach Lembo has done yeoman’s work in regard to community involvement and program connection. Calling the connection between the greater Muncie/Delaware County area and the football team icy is probably a gross understatement. Even the student body has been less than ideal, as it took an undefeated season to really pack Scheumann Stadium with rabid Cardinals fans. Whether or not the work, the speeches, the visits, or the appearances will have any lasting effect long-term remains to be seen, but the effort and approach has been staggering. Truly impressive. On to practice #9…. (via)

How does practice change in the second half of the Spring?
Not a whole lot. We have a basic practice structure we believe strongly in and typically follow pretty closely. It is always easier to get more done within in the body of practice if the players know what to expect. We always try to focus on a particular aspect for five, 10 or 15 minutes and then move on. Any longer than that and it is diminishing returns in terms of their focus. We do not have too much more to install in terms of schemes, so I hope we can build on what we already have in and execute with more consistency. These next several practices will be very important. We have some guys improving, but their consistency is lacking. As Coach Jay Bateman told the defense in meetings today, if you just think about surviving practice, it will come back to haunt us in the fall. Each player needs to attack each of the remaining practices with a real sense of urgency.

How is the progress of the young defensive backs going this Spring?
Not bad considering the lack of experience back there. Brian Jones is growing up and really trying to be focused in meetings and on the field. He understands he has a great opportunity in front of him and he is trying to make the most of the opportunity. He has been solid on special teams as well. Chris Pauling is really mature for a true freshman. He watches a lot of video on his own, is a fast learner and really loves the game. He’s a hard worker, but the game also comes somewhat naturally to him. Chris can run and hit. J.C. Wade had a good winter in the weight room and that is allowing him to play more physical. Christopher Calloway is a very good athlete that needs more repetitions. Eric Patterson has done some nice things at corner. After a solid winter with Coach David Feeley, he is playing in a more athletic position and is tackling better. Andre Dawson is an older guy, but I like how he is attacking the opportunity to be a leader in his fifth year.

You have spent alot of time speaking at various places this spring. How will this pay off this fall?
Some results are tangible and others are not. Obviously, if our attendance improves this fall or in the future, then the efforts to reach out to the campus and the community will have paid off. Beyond that, however, we are trying to build a culture around the program where people feel connected. Whether someone is a serious college football fan or not, we want them to learn about us, what we do and how we do it. Our program is a large, highly visible part of the University. If there are no secrets and people understand what goes on inside the Fisher Complex, they are more likely to value the football program. If people sense a connection to our student-athletes and our coaching staff, they are more likely to want to see our progress on Saturdays in the fall. The great thing about the Muncie community is it is very easy to get to know people. Whether it is on campus, in town or at Ball State alumni functions around the country, we have to take advantage of every opportunity to spread the message – even if it is to individuals or small groups. This is an important part of the job for me as we try to build the program, so I have to keep at it regardless of the time commitment or short term results.

The Cardinals are back it again today as they hit double digits on the practice tally with practice #10 at the Scheu at 3:30.

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