Ball State's football team entered its second week of spring practice Tuesday as preparations continued for the 2013 season opener Aug. 29.
The Cardinals' third-year head coach Pete Lembo talks about Practice No. 5.
Q: The Cardinals lost a couple of specialists in a punter and placekicker from last year's team, talk a little about those positions.
Coach Lembo (@Pete_Lembo): Scott Kovanda and Steven Schott were two of our best players the last two seasons. We are 10-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and the play of our special teams has played a big role in many of those wins. I am sure they will both be terrific role models as young football alumni. Fortunately, Scott and Steven helped to develop an excellent work ethic in some of our younger specialists. Coach Justin Lustig does an excellent job of balancing their work load, but also being sensitive that you can wear out your leg by kicking or punting too much. Scott Secor has looked solid with field goals so far this spring. He has a strong leg. Kyle Schmidt and Alex Egan are the top two candidates for the punting duties at this time. There is some good competition going on there. Of course, freshman Steve Drida will join the mix in the summer, so that should help the competition. Kyle Kamman has been getting some work as a holder and Connor Ryan is very reliable at that spot as well. We have some solid depth at long snapper led by Garrett Mack and Nick Traub. Ball State has an impressive legacy of kicking specialists, including several guys in the NFL. We are trying to add to that tradition.
Q: How much of the offensive and defensive strategy for the 2013 season is put into practices in the spring sessions?
Coach Lembo (@Pete_Lembo): It is important to become masters of your trade in the spring. You add enough schematically to the package to be multiple, but not so much that guys are thinking too much. This is especially the case with the younger guys in the lineup. Our coordinators will often put together a practice script for the two’s and three’s that is a bit less complicated. At the end of the day, it is about blocking, tackling, throwing, catching and kicking. You want to get a good evaluation of every player in the program during the spring season. Some of that is physical and another piece is what a guy can handle mentally. Like life, it is all about balance. Our staff is very cohesive and we take great pride in being on the same page. This allows us to put together an organized practice that maximizes the time on the field for the players. We will test out a few new wrinkles as spring goes on, but the foundation has not changed much.
As you start the second week of spring practice, how do you feel about where the team is at this point?
Coach Lembo (@Pete_Lembo): I like the energy, enthusiasm and passion our guys are demonstrating on the practice field each day. We were not a great team in 2012, but we achieved – or overachieved – because of good preparation and knowing our strengths and weaknesses. We knew what team would show up for each game. We are still learning who we are and what the potential of this team is, but I like a lot of what I am seeing so far in terms of the intangibles. Our assistant coaches are doing a nice job teaching and the players are receptive to their coaching. We have a few key guys out of the lineup right now, but some younger guys are taking advantage of their opportunities. We have some talented young players at several positions. The long term future of this football program looks bright if we can continue to build the infrastructure.