"I was really pleased with
today's practice," head coach Denver Johnson said. "The pace was
good. The attitude and the jazz level was really high. I thought we
got after each other really well. I'm anxious to go inside and watch
the film because I think there are going to be some good things on
Paving the way for the offense
were quarterbacks Yance Vaughan and B.J. McCaslin. Sophomore wide
receiver Jonathan Deloach caught a 40-yard pass from Vaughan, who
later found Laurént Robinson and Mike Larson for a pair of 20-yard
Continuing to raise the bar,
McCaslin connected with Robinson for a 50-yard completion, the
longest completion of the day.
The defense answered with
quarterback sacks from both Anthony Kirkland and Rick Splant.
The anchor of the Redbird
defense, Boomer Grigsby, is preparing for his final season at
Illinois State, and Johnson is pleased with his linebacker's desire
to continue to get better.
"[Boomer] realizes that at the
next level the real challenge is going to be pass coverage, and he's
working hard in that area; he has greatly improved," Johnson said.
"He's a whole lot better now than he was at the end of last season
in pass coverage, both man-to-man and zone-drop coverage. He
continues to improve in every area, but I've seen a large
improvement in his pass coverage skills."
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With one middle linebacker
position locked up by consensus all-America Grigsby, the other
position will be a fight between returnees Niall Campbell and
"Both Niall and Cameron can
run, are very athletic and highly competitive," Johnson said. "Niall
should put himself in a position to begin a -- hopefully -- very
illustrious career, and Cameron is just a step ahead of him as far
as eligibility goes. If Cameron can stay away from some of the
injury problems he has had in the past, he should be able to really
have a good year for us too."
The Redbirds' first scrimmage
of spring camp was scheduled for Saturday morning, and Johnson
indicated he would be interested in particular offensive situations.
Johnson said, "We want to have a good first-and-10 situation
scrimmage and a good third-down situation scrimmage. We will do a
little red zone and goal line tomorrow, but it's just kind of a
generic scrimmage. We will have officials here, so we're anxious to
get those guys on the field and kind of clean up some of our play."
[Todd Kober, director of
athletics media relations,