Miles is pleased with ISU football's effort
Sycamores’ new coach likes what he sees as football practice starts
By David Hughes, The Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State’s Trent Miles refused to let an afternoon rain shower spoil his first practice as a college head football coach.
“It didn’t affect anything,” Miles said after conducting a spring practice session that lasted a little more than two hours Sunday at Memorial Stadium. “It rained at the very beginning, but it cleared.”
More important than his opinion of the weather was his opinion of the players he’s been hired to coach at his alma mater.So far, so good.
“They gave good effort,” Miles assessed. “They don’t quite understand yet what we’re asking them to do, but that’s why we coach. They’ll get there. The effort was fine. It’s just paying attention to the details and the first day not knowing a couple of their assignments. But as long as they’re giving effort, we can get them to the other part.”
Sophomore-to-be quarterback Chuck Dowdell agreed with his new coach.
“I saw a lot of good effort,” Dowdell said. “That’s the only thing we could control. A lot of players did good things coming out of the huddles. It was a pretty good first day of practice.”
Miles offered his expectations for spring practices, which will conclude with the annual Blue/White Scrimmage on April 19.“I expect them to learn their position,” Miles noted.
“I expect them to learn how we expect them to practice — with discipline, paying attention to details, understanding our schemes, being very sound fundamentally and playing with great technique. That’s what I expect.”
His biggest concern is a lack of available players in the trenches.“We’re really, really thin in the offensive and defensive lines and linebacker,” Miles acknowledged.
“Really thin. And that’s not going to change until we get in the fall when we get the [high school and junior college] kids we signed in. It’s just a matter of getting everybody through this without getting anybody injured. That’s why the big emphasis is everybody staying on their feet and running. Running on their feet rather than reaching and grabbing, trying to keep these guys healthy.”
One of Miles’ defensive assistants Sunday was Dennis Raetz, Indiana State’s all-time winningest football coach who filled in as interim head coach for seven games last season. Raetz said his new role is working with first-year defensive coordinator Shannon Jackson, primarily with the outside linebackers and free safety.
Miles, Jackson and special-teams/linebackers coach Troy Johnson are former ISU players whom Raetz coached.
“It’s fun,” Raetz said after practice Sunday. “In many ways, this has been a flashback for me. The offense we’re sitting in now is the same offense we did 30 years ago. And Trent played for me and Shannon played for me and Troy played for me… I’m enjoying the guys that are here.
“We are short on [player] numbers. But as I’ve said many times, I think that for the first time in a decade we legitimately have a chance to get back to where we can make things go … for a lot of reasons. You gotta start somewhere and this was a start.”
Raetz’s first spring practice at ISU occurred in 1978 when he was an assistant to Dick Jamieson. He said ISU had 43 players available then. On Sunday, 48 players were on hand.“It’s like you’re reliving everything,” Raetz admitted from a personal perspective. “But I enjoy it. You never lose your love for football. And I think Trent’s doing a good job. He’s eager, he’s got energy and he’s got guys coaching that want to be here.”
Indiana State’s next practice will begin at 5:30 a.m. — yes, 5:30 in the morning — Tuesday. The public is welcome to attend all spring practices at Memorial Stadium.
The Sycamores, who finished 0-11 in 2007, will begin their 2008 season Aug. 28 at Eastern Michigan.
ISU Fun Day — Indiana State will conduct a free “Youth Football Fun Day” at 11 a.m. April 19 at Memorial Stadium, prior to the Blue/White Scrimmage.This is for boys and girls in first through eighth grades. Food and drinks will be provided after the activities.
Registration forms are available from ISU assistant coach Troy Johnson, who can be reached at (812) 237-4080.Completed forms should be sent to Johnson at Indiana State University Football, Athletics Arena Room 104, Terre Haute, IN 47809.