The team practiced in shoulder pads and helmets as opposed to full pads. What was the reasoning?
We go in uppers or half pads for several reasons. First of all, we have to have a number of practices in the spring where there is no live scrimmaging as per NCAA regulations. Today's session met one of those requirements. We have a pretty quick turnaround with a morning practice tomorrow, so we wanted to go a little lighter today, knowing we will do some live work on Saturday morning. Perhaps most importantly, we work very hard at teaching our guys to play at full speed, but to stay up off the ground. This is the best way to replicate game speed, but to avoid injury. We call that "thud" tempo and we should be able to execute in that mode whether we are in full pads or uppers.
Your offensive line is a pretty veteran group. You have made some position switches with that group. How are they progressing?
I have been pleased with the offensive line so far this spring. They are an experienced group and, as we previously discussed, they are adapting very well to Coach Tabacca's teaching style. The major move we made was to bump Dan Manick to center. Dan has embraced the change and is getting better every day. He has occasionally drifted some of his shotgun snaps, but again, he's getting better and more comfortable. Guard Jordan Hansel has been limited this spring due to the fibula injury he suffered last fall. We are very pleased with the job Chris Sparrow is doing filling in for Jordan. Chris started the last four games in 2011 and continues to improve. Cameron Lowry is having a really good spring. The game has really slowed down for him. The same is true for Kitt O'Brien. He is playing with more detail than he did last fall. Some younger guys in the two deep like Jalen Schlachter and Matthew Page are also making progress.
Fridays practice saw another large number of recruits at practice. Do you have primarily in state players or do you invite from all over?
I have been really pleased with the turnout of visitors every day at practice. We have had over 20 recruits show up at most practice sessions so far this spring. Indiana and most of the bordering states were all represented out there today. We actually had a large number of recruits from Chicago and the suburbs on campus today. I am also very pleased with the number of Indiana high school coaching staffs that have been attending our practices. On Wednesday, we had the coaches from Snider, Southport and Leo high schools here in the facility to watch video, sit in on meetings and watch us on the field. Coaches from Minster, Ohio, and Shenandoah in Indiana were here today. We have also had some football alumni that are college coaches attend practices. It was good to see former Ball State captain Colin Johnson out there with us today. He is now the offensive line coach at the College of Wooster in Ohio.