Zook Brings Unique Style To Practice

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – With one quick glance into Memorial Stadium you can tell there is something different about the opening preseason practice than from years past. It wasn't the fall-like weather conditions but rather a revamped practice structure that splits the 105-man squad into two equal halves read here.

As advertised, there was nothing lackadaisical about head coach Ron Zook's upbeat tempo. The non-stop action began from the first whistle to the last. Zook addressed the media following the workouts and explained the logic behind the split team practice session.

"It gives everyone a chance to get a lot of reps. Instead of running 25 plays per team, they get upwards of 60," Zook said. "What it does in particular is get the new guys up to speed and gives them an opportunity for plenty of reps."

The split format comprised of two separate teams with nearly equal numbers at each position. The format maximizes the amount of time the players get during repetitions and more individual attention. The players workout for two and a half hours while the coaches give well over four hours of instruction. The practice format will keep up for the first four practices and ends with the first full-padded practice on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

Player's Talk About the Split Practice Format:

Melvin Bryant on the new format… "I think its good for the team because we get a lot of extra reps. The point is, guys get tired easily so the format keeps our energy up. The main reason why we are doing this is because Zook is implementing a new system. The more reps we get, the more familiar we'll become with the new system."

E.B. Halsey on the new format…

"It's definitely different. You come out expecting the whole team to be out here and the players you re familiar seeing so that's different. You definitely get a whole bunch of reps and a chance to get in there and work on your craft and not worry about getting enough reps. That's the positive of it."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories