With five practices under their belt, the Indiana Hoosiers are one-third of the way through their spring practices.
So far, IU head coach Kevin Wilson said. has liked what he’s seen from both sides of the ball.
”(It’s been) good,” Wilson said. “Trying to emphasize consistency. Not just physically practicing hard, but mentally. We’re really working hard to see if our guys can take some steps in their preparation now and not waiting until next year game weeks.”
The team held a “half practice and a half scrimmage” according to Wilson, with 75 snaps done full-speed. He liked how the offense looked but said the defense had to tackle better.
Wilson said Indiana’s offense has had a slower approach in spring practice with a fourth-year quarterback and experienced offensive line.”The offense right now is a little farther along than the defense with that toughness/competitive side,” he said. “I think our defense is good, but you’re also looking at Tegray Scales and (Greg) Gooch, and your veterans are (Chase) Dutra and Antonio Allen and (Darius) Latham, and it’s their second spring.”
Because of its mental maturity, Wilson said, the offense has a greater presence and consistency than the defense.
”It’s good for the offense,” Wilson said. “That defense needs to keep coming.”
A part of the Hoosier defense to keep an on eye is the linebackers.
Scales completed an outstanding freshman campaign this past season in which he was named to BTN.com’s All-Big Ten Freshman Team and IU’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He recorded 46 tackles (29 solo), with two sacks and three interceptions.
While Wilson praised Scales, he also said the linebacker group as whole has improved.
”That group has gotten better physically,” Wilson said. “I also think some guys to keep an eye on, whether they’re playing the inside or the outside spot are Dameon Willis and Zeke Walker. Those guys are also like Tegray – good looking, big bodies. And we need those guys to keep coming through.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Wilson has liked the contributions he’s seen from his walk-on running backs.
Redshirt freshmen Alex Rodriguez and Ricky Brookins redshirted last season after joining the program as walk-ons during the season. Redshirt junior Andrew Wilson earned a scholarship this spring after being a walk-on his first two years in the program.
Rodriguez ran for over 1000 yards their senior year of high school, while Brookins was the IHSAA Class 5A state rushing champion with over 2,000 yards rushing. Wilson was mainly a scout-team player who saw playing time with special teams the final four games of the 2015 season.
Kevin Wilson said if the team was deciding today, one of those players might be in the top three.”
”They’ll all have special team value, and maybe one of those guys will be in the mix to crack the top three,” he said. ”But those running backs are solid pieces for us, even though they’re non-scholarship players.”
Overall, Wilson said there was a good vibe around the team.
”Got a lot of improvement to do,” he said. “But it’s the best we’ve been and I like where we’re at right now.”