Linebackers play 'thinking man's game'

Football may be known as a contact sport, but junior inside linebacker Lorenzo Scott will be the first to say America's contact sport is also a thinking man's game.

If that is the case, Scott has been Ball State's leading thinker for the past two years.

Scott, who has actually been the team's leading tackler the past two seasons, will lead the Cardinals' linebacking corps into the 2002 campaign.

"We had a lot of injuries at first, so we had to bump people from outside linebacker to inside, and they had to relearn things," Scott said. "Now, everyone is healthy, and because we moved people around, we are really deep at linebacker."

Defensive coordinator Bob Bartolomeo, who is Ball State's defensive coordinator, also coaches the inside linebackers. He pointed out a big difference between the inside and outside linebacker positions.

"They have different reads and definitely do different things," said the 11th year Ball State assistant.

Bartolomeo is joined by Scott Pethtel, who coaches the outside linebackers. Bartolomeo said Pethtel has a more difficult job than he does.

Scott was reluctant to admit the outside backers had a harder job, but he did explain the difference in duties.

"Inside linebackers are filling up the run first, then the pass," Scott said. "Outside linbackers try to contain everything and turn it inside. So, the inside reads probably are easier."

Joining Scott at the starting inside linebacker position will be sophomore Shannon Donaldson. On the outside of the defensive backfield, Justin Riley will play the rover position, and sophomore Justin Beriault is listed as hawk.

Bartolomeo explained the difference between the rover and the hawk.

"The hawk covers the receivers and the rover is more responsible for tight ends," he said.

The Cardinals graduated four linbackers from last year's squad, but Scott said what the group lacks in experience is made up for in athleticism.

"We are young and athletic," said the St. Louis native. "So the key is just to play sound football."

Last season Beriault had a large impact on the defense. The Warren Central graduate started all 11 games for the Cardinals and earned the team's John Hodge Award for the most outstanding freshman. Beriault was second on the team with 117 tackles. He was third in the nation in tackles among freshmen.

Riley adds more game experience to the defensive backfield. He was third on the team in sacks and fifth in tackles for a loss as a sophomore.

Donaldson will be relatively new to game action. He made only one appearance last season.

Back-ups in the linebacker position include seniors Donald Crumpton and Mike Brizendine.

Bartolomeo says the group will make goals for the Saturday's game on Thursday.

"We take goals one game at a time," he said.

For now the linebackers will focus on the Missouri Tigers. They will, after all, have a lot to think about.


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