Chippewas Close Spring Grid Drills on Saturday

MOUNT PLEASANT - It'll be offense vs. defense this Saturday when Central Michigan University completes its spring drills under new head football coach Brian Kelly.

With a scoring system devised by Kelly during his coaching days at Grand Valley State University, the team will not be divided equally as in past years. Instead, the offense will wear one color uniform and the defense another.

"We did it the last three years at Grand Valley and it worked out quite well," Kelly said. "The defense can score points as well as the offense. So, when it's all over, the offense or defense will be the winner."

The spring game will be open to the public and there will be no cost. The game will be played on the grass practice field just east of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Game time will be noon.

Plans call for portable bleachers on the south end of the practice field. Gates at both the north and south entrances to the field will be open. Fans are encouraged to stay in the end zones or on the hill to the west side of the field for safety purposes.

"We're not going to hold back much for this scrimmage," said Kelly, whose GVSU teams won Division II national championships in 2002 and '03. "We need the reps so we'll line up and run our offense and defense.

"Some schools keep things out of spring games but we can't afford that. We've made good progress this spring and this game will be important for us."

The quarterback job is still wide open with senior Grant Arnoldink (6-4, 233) and junior Kent Smith (6-5, 209) the top two contenders.

"I'm happy where they are right now and I think they can get to a championship level over the summer," Kelly said. "I'd like to have one quarterback but we don't have one right now. We're looking for more consistency. Both bring something to the table.

"Grant is a better leader right now and that's related to being more confident with the experience he's had. Kent is more athletic and runs better but he needs to play with more confidence."

Because neither quarterback has had much experience (Arnoldink has played six games in his career and Smith four), Kelly made the quarterbacks live during spring ball, allowing them to be hit like everyone else during scrimmages.

"We needed to see some things from them when they were being hit," Kelly said. "I was impressed with the toughness of both players."

Central Michigan opens the 2004 season with a Sept. 4 game at Indiana University before playing at Michigan State on Sept. 11. The home opener is set for Sept. 18 against Southeast Missouri.

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