Today was the last day in full pads before the spring game. Did you get everything accomplished on your "to do" list?
It was a pretty solid session. We had three team periods, including one live scrimmage period in the Red Zone to conclude the session. Steven Schott has been very accurate all spring, but missed a pressure field goal today. We had two pass skeletons, including one in the Red Zone. Our kids get pretty competitive down there, even when it is just pass skeleton. We got some quality work done for punt protection and kickoff coverage. It was a pretty balanced practice with both sides of the ball having some success. I told our guys afterwards I love the enthusiasm I am seeing, but we have to balance that with better focus and awareness on the practice field. We have a lot of young guys still learning the expectations. This is a game for guys that can play with aggressiveness and detail. We are not out on the schoolyard.
We have not talked much about the linebackers this spring. How is that position group progressing?
The linebackers are benefitting from hearing the same message from the same voice for a second year. Jay Bateman has a very good rapport with his guys. I have seen him coach at four different schools and that has been the case everywhere we have been. Jay's old players from Lehigh and Elon are always keeping in touch with him. That's what it is all about - relationships. Travis Freeman is making better decisions and more confident decisions. He is playing with better posture and is wasting less movement. Travis is a very hard worker, but Jay and David Feeley can also take some of the credit for that. Kenneth Lee has a lot of physical tools and he has shown flashes this spring. He is currently where some of the guys were at this point last year from a mental standpoint. Tony Martin is a bright guy that understands the system. He moves well in space. I like the depth and competition we are seeing from the other guys we have in that position group. We need a lot of them to step up and be role players on our defense and major contributors on special teams. We simply did not have enough linebackers that played in games for us last year. Some of the freshmen have improved quite a bit, but a couple still have some growing up to do.
Ball State hired a new athletic director yesterday. Did you get a chance to spend any time with Bill Scholl?
I did meet Bill briefly after he introduced himself to all the head coaches on Monday. He really made a positive first impression at our meeting and afterwards at the press conference. He is a seasoned administrator that has worked in a variety of roles at Notre Dame. He seems to be very well prepared for the challenges of the top job here at Ball State. He and his family have spent many years in Indiana, so they know the culture and the landscape. I have to give President Gora a lot of credit for the confidentiality she maintained throughout the search process. Tom Collins was able to do that with the football search when I was hired in December of 2010. Fans always want to know how an important search is progressing, but you have to look at it from the perspective of the applicants. I was excited about the opportunity at Ball State, but I certainly did not want to alienate our student-athletes and program constituents at Elon. I was pleased to learn that Bill wants to jump right in and start quickly. We have a lot of challenges to attack and I am excited to work with Bill as we move forward.