Ball State's football team completed Fall Camp Practice No. 3 Friday and head coach Pete Lembo answered a few questions about the day's action.
Q: Coach, this was the third practice and the heat was pretty intense. How is the team adjusting to be back on the playing field and handling the high temperatures and humidity?
It was warm out there today, but that is something we cannot control. We have to focus on the things we can control. This includes our focus, effort and preparation. I am sure the heat is a factor in Ypsilanti, Clemson, Bloomington and Tampa as well, but the teams that lay the best foundation now are more likely to have success later. Our guys are in very good physical condition thanks to Coach David Feeley's summer program. Of course, we are still in one-a-days or what the NCAA calls 'acclimation days'. So, heat or no heat, we have to get quality work done. We were out there for about two hours and forty five minutes today.
Q: You stated the first couple of practices had been going smoothly. Did that continue with Friday's Practice No. 3?
We transitioned from helmets only to uppers today. This enabled us to get a little more physical in drills. It is critical guys continue to play in a great athletic position when the tempo picks up. The best way to avoid unnecessary injuries is if guys can go hard, but stay off the ground. Our veterans did a pretty good job of playing fast, but smart today. This is one of the most important things the new players have to learn as they transition to the college game. We do very little live scrimmaging over the course of preseason camp or even spring practice, but we still need to practice at full speed in order to execute on Saturdays in the fall.
Q: Talk a little about the defensive side of the ball and how they are progressing in Fall Camp.
It is way too early to make any kind of detailed assessment, but we do have a bit more depth over there compared to this time last year. More depth translates to more competition for playing time at more positions. Of course, that is the key to getting better - players being pushed by each other. All four of our full-time coaches return from last year's staff. I am not sure when that was the case most recently at Ball State, but I am guessing it was several years ago. So, our players are getting the same message from the same voices. They are working with coaches that they have established a strong rapport with already. When there are strong relationships in place, there is also trust, loyalty, honesty and openness. These are some important intangibles that will help develop the unit and the individuals in it.