TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s first football scrimmage of its 2012 season was not exactly a revelation to Trent Miles.
“I could bring a recorder out here and hit the rewind button after the first scrimmage of two-a-days every year,” the Sycamore coach said after the session concluded Saturday evening at Memorial Stadium. “I reserve the right to watch film … but I saw some good things, I saw some bad things, and I saw some ugly things. So it was the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Miles did reveal Saturday that Western Michigan transfer Mike Perish has officially won the starting quarterback job — probably not a big surprise to most ISU observers — and both Perish and linebacker Aaron Archie were less reserved than their coach about what they’d seen.
“We had a few small mistakes and put ourselves in some tough situations,” Perish said, “but I’ve seen a big improvement since the spring in the offense.
“The receivers are really playing good, the O-line is blocking well and the running backs — especially Shakir [Bell] — are looking nice.”
“I felt [Saturday’s scrimmage] was great [from a defensive prospective],” said Archie. “It was great seeing our young guys get out and get after it.”
Perish drove the No. 1 offense to a score against the No. 1 defense on the first series, completing a third-and-11 pass to tight end Michael Mardis for a first down and two plays later lofting a 45-yard scoring pass to Taje High. After that, it was Archie’s unit’s turn to shine.
In the next six series, not only did the defensive units not allow a point, they gave up just two first downs — a 13-yard run by Bell and a scramble by freshman quarterback Robert Tonyan Jr.
In red-zone work, the first offensive unit struck again, Perish completing a pass to Tanner Riley at the 1-yard line setting up a plunge for a score by fullback Austen Wozniak. The only other score of the evening was a late 20-yard pass from Trent Lancaster to fellow freshman Joel Magrum, and the scrimmage ended with a pass-interference call in the end zone on a throw by Tonyan to freshman Jeff Burley.
“You can’t give up a big play on the first drive, especially when you know the offense might be going play-action,” Miles said in listing some of the mistakes that need correcting. “We have a long way to go. Thank goodness we don’t play right now.”
With two more weeks of two-a-day practices still to come, Miles said the Sycamores need to work on “discipline, execution, physical play … and we’ve got to work on tempo. We’d have had several delay-of-game penalties today.
“But we had good effort,” he added, “and we’re bigger, stronger and faster than we’ve been.”
Confirmation of that latter statement came from Archie, one of the team’s true veterans. Because of missing a year with an injury, he’s one of a very few players remaining from Miles’ first recruiting class.
The seniors who graduated a year ago left their legacy as program-changers but, Archie noted, they didn’t leave the cupboard bare.
“Coach Miles brings in good players every year,” he said. “I have full confidence in the guys we have now.
“We’ll have a good season,” Archie said firmly, “as long as everybody stays focused and on task. Our goal is to win the Missouri Valley Conference.”
Perish, the newcomer, sees many of the same things.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “Our defense looks great. We just need to keep getting better every day.
“Our goal is to win a championship, and we’re doing everything we can [to make that happen].”