Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Game Recap

If you ventured to Scheumann Stadium on Saturday hoping for the fanfare and wonderment of a spring game, you were surely disappointed. While some schools roll out the red carpet for their spring scrimmage, Ball State was content to simply approach the day with an all work attitude as scripted plays from specified yardages were run throughout the afternoon, no clock, no score.

It's an interesting way to unveil the first organized event of the Parrish era, but the atmosphere for the spring "game" may be a metaphor for how Stan appears to approach football, practice, and life in general. All business, no excessive ridiculousness, and simply going to work.

Some quotes from Coach Parrish regarding various aspects of the scrimmage:
On the Offensive and Defensive lines:
"The offensive line is better and the defensive front has been the best unit for us this spring. Our outside rushers are coming around nicely, and the coaching dynamic on the defense is taking shape. The guys up front on defense have dominated our offensive line all spring, but that was expected. We need to get the offensive line more reps together and we will when fall practice starts. Cameron Lowry has had a great spring at left tackle and that was good to see. He was not at the best playing weight when we recruited him, but he has worked hard to get where we want him to be. The talent is there, we just have to keep getting better. Switzer is our one returning starter, so we will have a very good competition for starting spots on the offensive line this fall."

On MiQuale Lewis:
"MiQuale Lewis earned the right to keep sharp this spring after rushing for 1,700 yards a year ago. What that means is we have to be smart with him, and being smart means he does not get hit in practice. We need him Sept. 3, and with certain guys you need to be smart. We expect continued good things from MiQuale Lewis."

On the quarterback position:
"Kelly Page has earned the right to be our No. 1 quarterback heading into fall camp. He is continuing to improve, which was good to see this spring, but he still has a lot to learn. He has many strengths at the quarterback position, and he can give us a lot of things. Aaron Mershman was able to get a lot of good reps this spring. That is invaluable for a kid who graduated high school in December and joined us in January. Tanner Justice is the glue at that position and is as important as anybody in that quarterback room."

On the wide receivers:
"Briggs Orsbon had a good spring after seeing an awful lot of playing time last year as a freshman. Seth White is a high school kid. He graduated in December and joined us in January, but he does not look like a high school kid out there. He had as good a spring as any of the receivers. He can run, catch and throw. Orsbon and White are those kind of kids that just have a knack to play the game. We call those type of student-athletes, ballplayers. When you get ballplayers, you let them play. We need to put them in a position to make plays."

On the defense:
"The coaching staff has done a great job under Coach Graber's guidance, and I knew they would. Our defense is the most experienced side of the ball for us. We moved some players to defense to help fill some holes, and Torieal Gibson was one of those. He is what I call, double-trained. He has learned positions on both sides of the ball and that can only help. We need to be able to stop people, and the defense is ahead of where I thought they would be, but they have room to improve. As a head coach, I certainly like good defenses."

On the team:
"Our focus all spring has been hustle, play hard and execute plays. We had good weather this spring and were able to get a lot accomplished. We had a good blend of new coaches and experienced coaches. A good blend of experience and youth. The staff is coming together and working hard to give our players the opportunities to be successful."
So the key thing to take away is the offensive line needs some work, Kelly Page is the frontrunner for QB1, and the team seems to be gelling along with the staff. Good news all around. No injuries, no bad surprises, and now the long excruciating wait until summer practice begins.

(Photo hat tip to Phil Friend)

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