TERRE HAUTE —
The final day of Indiana State football’s first Mike Sanford experience is upon the Sycamores.
ISU will conduct its Spring Game at 3 p.m. today at Memorial Stadium. Like every other part of the spring, the question for first-year coach Mike Sanford is how he approaches it.
Some coaches treat the spring game as a climax to the spring practices teams are allotted. Others just want to get through it, maintain player health, and move on toward fall preparation.
Sanford is treating the game as a final chance to evaluate players who might not see the field as much once the starters begin to take the majority of repetitions in preseason practice.
“It’s our final scrimmage and we want to continue to give inexperienced players a chance to play under fire. There will be quite a bit of evaluation and that’s the idea of playing guys who aren’t proven. There’s some guys who haven’t had enough reps with the ones. We want to see what they can do,” Sanford said.
Sanford mentioned the quarterbacks (Mike Perish and Robert Tonyan Jr. are trying to earn the starting spot) and some of the Sycamores’ running backs specifically, but other units — including the linebacking corps — also have plenty of untested players.
Sanford said that the scrimmage will closely approximate a real game situation, though he did allot time for special teams. The No. 1 offense will play against the No. 2 defense and vice versa.
Sanford said that ISU’s established starters won’t play as much. Shakir Bell was mentioned as one player who will be held back.
Other starters will be gradually sat down as the game progresses.
ISU knows better than any program the risks the Spring Game can offer. Starting center FN Lutz was lost for the 2012 season on the last play of the 2012 Spring Game.
“We’ll have experienced players go a little bit, but not the whole day,” Sanford said.
Sanford’s timed-to-the-second practices have drawn positive reviews from the players and observers alike. Morale on the team has been high throughout spring practice and Sanford hopes that shows through today.
“It’ll be a fun day for the fans to see our team and see where we’re at,” Sanford said.