Spring Ball game prepares football for fall

The Spring Ball game on April 14 gave The University of Indianapolis football team a chance to refine its skills and prepare for the season. Defense dominated the game and the game ended 49-12 in their favor. The Hounds had been busy with their spring training, and the Spring Ball Game capped off their efforts.

The Greyhounds were divided into offense vs. defense rather than dividing the team into starters and backups as it had been in previous years. This format provided the players with more of a “scrimmage” situation, with the added pressure of officials and a crowd of cheering UIndy students.

Head Football Coach Bob Bartolomeo said that the Spring Ball game helps the coaching staff see how a player acts during a game-like situation.

“Anytime you put players in the game field with a crowd, set of officials and into a game-like setting, it shows up a little bit in terms of how players handle the pressure,” Bartolomeo said. “It was awesome for our kids to experience that and be put in that situation. We try to do that during practice, but it’s not the same as when the coaches are off the field, everybody is on the sidelines and the officials are there and the clock’s moving. That was very beneficial for us.”

The dominating performance of the defense made the game difficult for the offense, according to Bartolomeo. He commented that the defense players put forth more effort and played harder.

“The defensive guys played a little harder than the offensive guys did and made some plays,” Bartolomeo said. “Our upfront defensive linemen controlled the upfront offensive a little bit, which was really to be expected. We have about six to seven guys up there that can play and have played a lot, so we expected that.”

Leading up to game, the team had practices, meetings and lifting sessions for three weeks. During this time, the players, especially the younger athletes, developed their strength and skills.  Bartolomeo explained that the practices were oriented toward individual development, because spring training is a chance for every player to compete for those starting spots in the upcoming season.

“I tell the players that they’re writing their resume for the fall in the spring,” he said. “It’s a lot about individual improvement from the last fall through the winter, and it really cements where they stand in the fall.”

Redshirt junior quarterback Jake Purichia commented that there is a mental development aspect to the spring ball game and training, but eventually it’s all about making sure all the players are working toward improvement.

“I have a mental checklist,” Purichia said. “What I need to do to be able to excel in my position.  So that’s definitely the first part of it, getting your mindset locked in and your position. For me personally, it’s not just that, but also trying to become more of a leader, especially for the offense, because it’s who I work with the most. I think we have a lot of people in the offense that can lead and do that. Making sure your personal checklist is complete, or going in the right path and then trying to help others is the way I prepare.”

Looking towards next season, the Greyhounds are working to make up for a statistically uncharacteristic 6-5 record last year. Bartolomeo said the UIndy football team is used to winning championships and going to the playoffs, and that is something that he hopes will come back next fall.

After the Spring Ball game the players started working on their own. Purichia said he and his teammates are eager to work during the summer and fall camp, to work on the playbook they have and the additions to come with the new Offensive Coordinator Casey Gillin.

“Looking back at last year, I know our mindset is different,” Purichia said. “We have a lot of guys that want to work hard, so I think that’s a big improvement, and we’re all motivated.  In the spring we didn’t put in a lot of new offense. We kept the same concept so we could master those. We want to master what we’re good at and then incorporate different stuff. We have a whole summer and fall camp to work and prepare for the season.”

Next year, the Hounds will start the season with their first six opponents winning 75 percent of their games last season. The first game will be on Aug. 31 as the Greyhounds take on Grand Valley State University at Key Stadium. Bartolomeo said he trusts that this experience will challenge the team’s mindset, especially the freshmen who will be experiencing their first game as Greyhounds.

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