The Redbirds scored 85 percent of the time they were in the red
zone in 2011 and scored a touchdown 63 percent of the time, both
very respectable numbers for a collegiate football team. However,
the intention is to score every time, and ISU head coach Brock Spack
made that clear his players after practice.
"When a team gets in the red zone, it's crucial to come away with
points," Spack said. "We were good in the red zone last year, but I want our
team to have the mentality to score every time they are down there. Our offense
did a good job today of getting into the end zone, but we did miss some chances.
It's also good for the defense to be put into a situation like that, with their
backs against the wall, to see how they respond."
The early focus was on special teams, as punters Patrick Wright and
Mike Wood took turns punting out of the end zone with pressure
coming in a drill that focuses on getting the kick off without a
block or safety. Both worked quickly and sent punts to Lechein
Neblett and Donovan Harden, who returned kicks to give the coverage
team a good look.
In a change from its normal situation, the 7-on-7 drill was moved
into the red zone to clean up routes and play calling. Quarterback
Matt Brown was solid and found Corey Shandrick for a 25-yard
touchdown to start off the drill, before the line of scrimmage moved
to the 17-yard line. Brown liked that distance as well, as he threw
back-to-back touchdowns to Cameron Hunt and Shandrick before Justin
Lane got into the action and connected with Chick Chatham for a
The line moved closer to the 12-yard line and Brown and Shandrick
connected for the third time for a touchdown, and Darrelynn Dunn also
caught a score from Brown. The drill was capped off with a 5-yard
touchdown pass on a fade route to the corner of the end zone from
Brown to Shandrick.
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The situation then drastically changed in the first-team session, as
the offense was backed up on its own 2-yard line with the task of
getting a first down. The first-team unit upped the ante when Brown
connected with Neblett for a 98-yard touchdown score to start things
off. From there, the defense controlled the exercise with a fumble
recovery for a touchdown by Pat Dougherty, a sack by Nate Palmer and
fumble recovery by Pat Meehan.
The team red zone session followed and the first-team offense
needed just two plays to score from 24 yards out, as Brown found
Tyrone Walker for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The second-team unit
could not capitalize on its first try, as a 42-yard field goal
by Matt Cotiguala missed right to halt the drive.
Round two for the first team did not go as smoothly either, as
back-to-back sacks by Palmer and Colton Underwood backed the
team up to the 21-yard line from the 12. The drive stalled, as
Ezra Thompson made a diving interception at the goal line on a
pass from Brown. The second team put a cap on the drill with a
28-yard touchdown by Hunt before the focus moved to the goal
line, where Brown found James O'Shaughnessy for a 3-yard
touchdown pass on a leaping grab in the back corner of the end
The Redbirds will have their first scrimmage of the spring
Saturday, which will be closed to the public.
news release received from Michael Williams, Illinois State