Practice #9 Media Notes

The University of Illinois released their media notes for Illinois' ninth Spring Practice

The media notes are provided by the University of Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, IL — The University of Illinois football team completed its ninth practice session of the spring on Wednesday, getting in 45 minutes of live scrimmage work. The team began the workout in high 70-degree temperatures on the grass practice fields, but moved the practice in the stadium for the scrimmage.

SPRING GAME LIVE ON THE INTERNET: For the first time ever the Illinois Orange and Blue Spring Game will be seen live on the internet at www.coachronzook.com. The game will also be seen tape-delayed on Insight Cable in Champaign, Decatur and Springfield (dates TBA).

SCOUTING THE SECONDARY: With all four starters returning from a year ago, many would say the secondary is the strength of the defense. The Illini defensive backs like that pressure and want to take on more leadership roles as well. At cornerback, the Illini have returnees in seniors Sharriff Abdullah, who started all 11 games, and Alan Ball, who was named the team's most outstanding defensive back last season. Add to that, junior Charles Bailey who began the season starting at corner and a young, athletic, freshman in Dere Hicks, who came to Illinois after a semester at Valley Forge Prep School. Illini assistant coach Curt Mallory is pleased also with his options at the safety position. Both juniors Kevin Mitchell and Justin Harrison were solid defenders in 2005 and gained valuable playing time a year ago. That group also has added a newcomer to the mix in junior college transfer Justin Sanders. One of the primary goals of this secondary this spring was to increase turnovers. Check out what Mallory and players had to say about their progress through nine practices.

Illini Secondary Coach Curt Mallory "We're working on becoming a better tackling team and taking better angles to the ball are we're constantly stressing creating turnovers. I think we've gotten better in these areas, but there is still a lot of work to do. The good thing is these guys are willing to put forth the effort and understand what it takes to get where we need to be for next season."

"We've had some good competition at safety this spring. We've got a good group of guys and we're getting better, but we still have a long way to go."

"These guys have a lot of game experience and they know how to learn from their mistakes and continue to get better."

"Justin Sanders has added some depth and competition to the unit and Dere Hicks is coming along as well."

Junior safety Kevin Mitchell
"We've been getting better every day. There have been some bumps in the road of course, but we've got great chemistry as a unit and we're gelling well."

"We (the secondary) probably have the most experience of any group on the team, so our communication is really good. We know each other well and we're always striving for perfection. We want to be the leaders of the defense this year."

Senior cornerback Alan Ball
"We're getting better as a unit and as a defense. We already have a year under the new system, so now we're trying to perfect everything instead of learn it."

"We've been working a lot on technique and learning all the plays to a point of perfection. We want to carry the defense this year, to be leaders on the field."

"I've been very impressed with Justin Sanders. The guy just makes plays. He's still learning, but he's been a big boost to the secondary. Also, Dere (Hicks) is making big strides. I've been impressed with how they've both come to play everyday."


The media notes are provided by the University of Illinois

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