Indiana defensive coordinator Brian Knorr like the competitive feel he has been getting from his defensive players through the first week and a half of preseason camp.
With a team that is attempting to move to a 3-4 defensive scheme after playing the 4-3 for many years, Knorr knows it’s going to be a challenge. The reality is that in many ways, at least this season, he is going to playing the 3-4 with players who were recruited to play the 4-3.
Knorr had a chance with the veteran players to get them familiar with things in the spring, but for the new comers the first 10 practices have clearly been a learning curve.
“We’re trying to be aggressive with our installation,’’ Knorr said. “We’re now getting into parts of our package that maybe we didn’t do in the spring. The spring you have two and three days between practices and now you have 12 to 13 hours between practices. We’re going to see what our kids can handle. (Tuesday), we incorporated a little bit, and maybe it was too much. We need to step back and maybe not quite install as fast for the next few days.’’
Knorr talked to the media Tuesday following practice about some of the things he’s seeing with his new defense. Wednesday’s practice was closed to the media but Thursday will be open with availability with offensive players.
Knorr, who coached at Wake Forest last season, said it’s still an evaluation process with his new team.
“We’re still evaluating our talent especially with the new guys coming in,’’ Knorr said. “We have a handful of guys that we didn’t look at in the spring. So just how much odd front, or how much we’re going to be in the 4-man front, we’re still assessing our talent over the next week or week and a half before we’ll be able to decide. Some guys may move positions. We challenge guys that may be moving positions so we’re still evaluating.’’
“I think Nate started fast and I think Ralph Green is now starting to get healthy so there’s good competition in that spot,’’ Knorr said.
“A guy like Zack Shaw, a guy who has been a defensive end in the past, has done a nice job for us as an outside guy,’’ Knorr said. “He had a pick for us (Tuesday). He has played well over the first nine practices.’’
“Every day they can’t take a step back,’’ Knorr said. “Now we just need to get more competition in some other positions.
Like where, coach?
“I think we need some of the front position guys to step up,’’ Knorr said. “Right now there’s not a huge difference between a lot of the guys. We need some guys to step up. Bobby (Richardson) hasn’t been as healthy as we wanted to be consistent in there and I think upfront we need to be a little bit more consistent.
“I’d like to continue for our field outside backer to have some more competition. We need to push Flo Hardin. He’s done a nice job and made some plays but we need to continue to have people push him.’’
Knorr said he has really enjoyed watching some of the players that he did not get to see in the spring.
“I think our guys have picked up certainly from where we were last spring and I’m certainly excited about some of the new additions,’’ Knorr said. “Tegray Scales has been a very, very dynamic freshman out there. It’s great to have Antonio Allen out there. We didn’t have him all spring. Murphy (Mark Murphy) is doing some good things. There’s a guy like Bobby Richardson who didn’t play in the spring, He’s really giving us some athleticism on that front line.’’
Knorr was asked specifically about Allen, the sophomore from Ben Davis High School.
“I always heard about the way he hits and he’s had some impactful plays out there already,’’ Knorr said. “Just to be able to get these guys playing this defense and realizing it’s a lot different than what’s on the board. And seeing our (offensive) guys and how they spread you out. You really have to be able to cover the field.
Knorr talked about a few other true freshmen that he has been impressed with early.
“We’re pleased with Greg Gooch, who has done some good things and Robert McCray is another outside backer/defensive end type that has done some good things,’’ Knorr said. “Some of our young secondary guys. Kiante Walton is a guy who is a physical guy as a freshman and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. He’ll be playing a little safety. We brought him in as a corner, a 200-pound corner, and we really believed he would be a safety.’’
Another true freshman Knorr was asked about is Donovan Clark from Fort Wayne South.
“Donovan is doing some great things,’’ Knorr said. “We think he can have some great special teams value and pushing guys like Timmy Bennett and Michael Hunter. They have had a pretty good summer camp so far and I’m looking forward to Donovan pushing them.’’
Knorr said one player who improved greatly just from the spring is sophomore DT Darius Latham. Latham has put on 25 pounds from playing at 295 last year to 320 this year.
“This summer we had the opportunity to watch these guys work out and we haven’t had that in the past,’’ Knorr said. “And Darius worked his tail off. And (Tuesday) we had 10 over and backs (at the end of practice) and he either won or was second or third with all the front guys. He’s getting there, he really is, and I think he has shown as much improvement as anybody from the spring until now.’’
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