Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Sports News


'Birds Back On The Field

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[April 01, 2014]  NORMAL It felt a bit like football season Saturday at Hancock Stadium, as cool temperatures and brisk winds made the Illinois State football team feel right at home in the first workout of the spring.

The Redbirds used the day to get re-acclimated to the field and worked on putting in new plays and terminology they learned in the offseason. Over the two-hour practice, the focus was on fundamentals as the team worked on individual drills for most of the time.

"I thought this was a good start," said head coach Brock Spack. "On this first day, we are really just trying to get the players back in the mindset of playing football and focusing on their technique. We didn't throw a lot of new things at them today, so they could just focus on playing fast. The emotion was good throughout the day and they made some mistakes, but we will watch the film and try to correct those when we come back out tomorrow."

The biggest story of the day was the return of senior wide receiver Lechein Neblett to the field, after he missed the entire 2013 due to a knee injury suffered during fall camp. Neblett was joined by redshirt freshman receiver Jon-Marc Anderson, who also returned to the field after suffering the same injury. Both wore braces but looked crisp in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills.

After individual drills and install sessions for both the offense and defense had concluded, the team session began with the first 11-on-11 action of the day. Without pads on, the players had to quell their excitement and avoid contact, but the session was still crisp, with players flying to the ball and back, running hard, and hitting their holes.

Sophomore running back Marshaun Coprich looked strong, breaking a couple of long runs. After Coprich ripped off a couple of strong runs, sophomore quarterback Blake Winkler took to the air. He completed passes to Cameron Meredith and James O'Shaughnessy, before safety-turned-linebacker Soniel Estime broke up the rhythm with a pass breakup.

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Tackles for loss by Will Pretty, defensive tackle Dalton Keane and Teddy Corwin followed, as the offense honed in on its running attack. The offense shook off the losses and took back to the air, as quarterback Trevor Rea found Meredith for a 65-yard touchdown pass down the sideline. Alex Donnelly ended that momentum quickly, as he blew up an attempted pitch on an option play and left Spack stating that running back Jamal Towns might have needed help getting off the turf if the pads were on.

The session ended with Winkler connecting with O'Shaughnessy on a 55-yard touchdown pass, and field goal work ended practice as always.

The Redbirds were scheduled to return to the field Sunday afternoon for the second practice of the spring at Hancock Stadium.

[Text from news release received from Illinois State University]


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