News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 26, 2014

Indiana State wraps up spring football with annual Blue-White game

TERRE HAUTE — With spring football at Indiana State, it’s more constructive to take note of the little things rather than the big.

ISU wrapped up spring ball with its annual Blue-White game on Friday at Memorial Stadium. Due to numbers issues at several spots, most notably in the interior of the offensive and defensive lines, it wasn’t a game at all in the strictest sense. In reality, it was an organized practice with officials.

It doesn’t mean there weren’t productive things that got accomplished. If the spring game is the exclamation point for a month’s worth of work, Sycamores on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball seemed pleased with what they could do.

An example is quarterback Mike Perish, whom ISU coach Mike Sanford said was ISU’s No. 1 quarterback coming out of the spring. Perish got a full month’s worth of time with what will be his primary targets at receiver. That’s a luxury he didn’t get a year ago.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve done a lot of changing for the better. It’s been great to go through a spring with all of the receivers. We’ve got timing worked out and we got a lot of reps together. As the unit gets better, I get better,” Perish said.

For defensive end Connor Underwood, it was also a spring of settling in rather than acclimating himself to a new coach and a new system. He thinks it will do the Sycamores a world of good after a nightmarish 1-11 campaign in 2013.

“We know a lot more about our defense this spring than we did last spring because we had a whole new coaching staff. Everyone knows the plays, so we focused on flying around. We looked pretty good this spring,” Underwood said.

As for the game itself, it was split into mixed sessions. The No. 1 offense was not on the field for long. It had two series near the beginning of the scrimmage and then were parked for the remainder of the day. The No. 1 defense got more time and they primarily knocked heads with the No. 2 and No. 3 offensive units.

“We wanted to get a shot with the 1s early and then look at the 2s. I thought [quarterback] Matt Adam had the best practice of the spring,” Sanford said.

Defense is usually ahead of the offense in spring games and Friday was no exception. The defense forced three turnovers. There were interceptions by Lonnell Brown Jr. and Tony Newman and a fumble recovery by Castille Bayers.

ISU’s offense didn’t score any touchdowns when the ball was placed at the 35-yard line of the offense. All touchdowns were scored in red zone situations.

Receiver A.J. Johnson caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Trent Lancaster, receiver Kyani Harris snagged a 3-yard touchdown pass from a scrambling Adam on another series, and Robert Tonyan — converted from quarterback to wide receiver — hauled in a 2-yard touchdown catch from Lancaster.

“When we moved into the red zone we did some big things, but the defense gave up some big plays and we can’t have that,” Sanford said. “The positive on defense is we got three turnovers. The offense can’t turn the ball over.”

Special teams-wise, kicker Eric Heidorn was accurate on all of his field goal attempts. ISU tried several different punt returners. Gary Owens and Harris each muffed one punt catch.

The football program will host its annual golf outing at 8 a.m. today at Hulman Links. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Lunch and afternoon registration is at noon with a shotgun start at 1 p.m.

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