Thursday, April 10, 2014
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Redbird Spring Camp Report: Defense Comes To Play

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[April 10, 2014]  NORMAL During spring camp, each day is certainly different, and whether the offense or defense will have a better day is anyone's guess. On a day that head coach Brock Spack described as "a bit off," it was the Redbird defense that came away with big turnovers and momentum plays Tuesday at Hancock Stadium.

"This was one of those days that was just a bit off," Spack said. "In camp, you are going to have days like this, and it almost felt like the second practice of a two-a-day out there today. I'm not sure if the couple days off over the weekend were the reason, or if it's just that halfway time through camp where everyone is sluggish, but it was pretty apparent to me from the beginning. We were installing a lot offensively and that messed with the timing a bit, but overall we need to be more physical and enthusiastic when we come back out Thursday."

The tone of the day was set early on, when Spack had the team redo its blitz session because he was not happy with the tempo and emotion during the drill. The second session was more physical, and Spack was encouraged enough to start the individual team period. The team also worked heavily on their punt protection unit, with the scout team defense doing everything it could to try to get to punter C.J. Laros, without success.

On the very first play of the 7-on-7 session, cornerback Mike Banks dove in front of a receiver to pick off his first of two passes during the drill. Linebacker Michael Ganzer also picked off his first interception of camp, before Banks got his second, this time off Adam Pittser five plays later, and returned it for a touchdown. Despite the interceptions, Winkler finished the drill 5 for 8 with a pair of completions to Scott Kuehn, and Pittser was 4 for 7 with two completions to Michael Clements.

Early tackles for loss by Dalton Keane, Zack Marshall and Alex Donnelly started the team period off strong for the defense. Sacks by Ganzer and Nate Bond followed to keep the momentum rolling for the guys in the white jerseys. Pitter eventually got things rolling with a couple of strong completions to Lechein Neblett, and Marshaun Coprich added two runs of 10-plus yards as well. However, Marshall put a cap on the day with a sack on the final play of the session.

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The practice wrapped up with field goal work, with kickers Nick Aussieker and Sean Slattery sharing the duties. The highlight came on the final kick of the session, as Aussieker attempted a kick from 50 yards out. Despite defensive tackle Teddy Corwin getting a hand on the kick, Aussieker put enough force behind it to carry it through the uprights and end practice on a high note.

The Redbirds will return to the turf at Hancock Stadium on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. for the seventh practice of the spring session.

[Text from news release received from Illinois State University]

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