Apr. 25—Indiana State’s football team has been using its current practice jerseys for quite a while now, to the point where the white numbers on the blue shirts of the defensive players have largely faded.
In a way, that was appropriate during Saturday’s scrimmage as the collective swarm that the defense imposed upon ISU’s offense wasn’t necessarily tied to one player, but several at the same time.
Defense dominated the scrimmage at Memorial Stadium as the Sycamores had their longest one yet. Saturday’s activity encompassed 14 series.
On only two of them did the ISU offense find the end zone — and that was when the ball was placed at the 30-yard-line. Past that? It was a long day for the offense, which was plagued by penalties and dropped passes.
Oh and there was that ISU defense, which controlled the line of scrimmage, while the secondary made it very difficult for receivers to get open.
“We’re always playing hard, running to the ball, and we’re creating chaos. We play with a lot of energy,” ISU linebacker Kelvin Broome said.
The ISU defense played without veteran defensive end Inoke Moala, who sat out for precautionary reasons, and didn’t have Broome either after the third series as he tweaked an ankle.
Not that it mattered. ISU’s offense simply wasn’t moving the ball. ISU’s defensive line controlled the trenches and ISU’s linebackers swarmed to ball carriers. Broome noted that there were many cooks in the ISU defensive stew.
“There’s competition in every room and everyone’s taken some meaningful snaps in spring ball. For example, I went down [with an ankle tweak] and Heath Stephens, one of our JUCO transfers, stepped right in, picked up the rifle and took off with it,” Broome said.
ISU coach Curt Mallory certainly noted the obvious in terms of how strong the defense was.
“I thought the play was hard. I don’t think the execution on offense was where it needed to be. We had too many penalties. The defense has played with emotion all spring and I’ve been realized pleased with them. Pleased with the defense, still have a ways to go offensively,” Mallory said.
ISU used three quarterbacks — Kurtis Wilderman, Anthony Thompson Jr. and Gunnar See. There wasn’t much to separate them. ISU had no success throwing downfield, although there were some drops on well-thrown balls as well as some excellent coverage from the cornerbacks. None of the quarterbacks had much time to pass either. In a real game, they would have endured some hits.
Mallory said the competition continues at the quarterback spot.
“I think there’s a lot of good and there’s some things we have to improve on. Kurtis has the experience and you can see that in his calmness. But it’s too close to call. All three are showing good things and then there’s things they have to keep learning from and build on,” Mallory said.
Most of ISU’s passing success occurred on swing passes, notably to running back Peterson Kerlegrand, who had space to take advantage of his speed and juking ability. The longest gain of the day occurred on one such play where Kerlegrand gained about 20 yards.
Kerlegrand got the lions’ share of the action early in the scrimmage as ISU ran the ball often. Kerlegrand had some success, but holes were hard to come by.
“Everyone came out and put in work. The defense is no joke and we’re not either. We came out and competed. There were some good things, but some things we need to work on too,” Kerlegrand said.
ISU’s pair of touchdowns came on the ninth and 10th offensive series. Running back Matt Sora scored on a run from eight yards on the first scoring series, See was quarterbacking. One-time North Central standout Dawson Basinger scored the other touchdown, a 6-yard run, with Wilderman calling signals.
There were a few injuries, the severity of which is not known at press time. Besides Broome, tight end Zach Larkin and wide receiver Phazion McClurge had to be helped off the field. In addition to Moala, wildcat quarterback Michael Haupert and wide receiver Harry Van Dyne sat out.
ISU will play its spring game next Saturday at 1 p.m.
—Broome wins Harry Turner Award — Before the scrimmage, Broome was presented with the Harry Turner Award, named for the former ISU player who played in the 1970s and who passed away in 2020.
“It means a lot. I’ve put a lot into the program. There’s a lot of guys who have won that award and I’m blessed to win it,” Broome said.
The award goes to an ISU player who embodies the spirit of being a good teammate.