As the Hoosiers went through its third straight day of practice in near 90 degree heat at the practice fields, Coach Terry Hoeppner continued to see progress on both sides of the ball, and from a handful of players.
The battle for the starting quarterback job continues to be one of the most closely watched, and on Wednesday junior Graeme McFarland appeared to have one of his better practices. Both had a chance to work with the No. 1 wide receivers during 1-on-1 drills, and McFarland was sharp Wednesday. Not only was McFarland on target with his throws, but he also was able to draw the defense off-sides on three different occasions during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Blake Powers had his moments on Wednesday as well, but did throw an interception late in the day to Tracy Porter, who stepped in front of Powers' target and streaked up the sideline untouched into the endzone.
Wednesday's practice suggests that the quarterback battle remains very much up-in-the-air.
In the offensive backfield, Chris Taylor continues to shine at tailback, hitting holes hard and accelerating into the defensive backfield. He has clearly established himself as the No. 1, ahead of Yamar Washington and a handful of youngsters. Washington is getting the most work with the No. 2 unit, while Kenni Burns remains No. 3, and freshmen Darmetrius McCray, Justin Carrington and Bryan Payton also got some work late with the No. 3s on 11-on-11 drills.
James Hardy continues to impress the coaching staff with his size, improved route running and hands, and has clearly established himself as a No. 1 wideout at this point in the fall. He's joined by Jahkeen Gilmore and Marcus Thigpen on the No. 1 unit, while players like James Bailey, Lance Bennett and Rhett Kleinschmidt have worked with the No. 2s. Freshmen such as Andrew Means, Nick Polk and Brandon Walker-Roby are also getting plenty of reps as well as they try to climb the depth chart. At tight end, Chris Rudanovic and Matt O'Neal have been with the No. 1s when IU goes with the two tight-end formation.
Along with the offensive line, Indiana has been without the services of Isaac Sowells, who's been finishing work in a class for the second summer session. Sowells did arrive at practice at the end of Wednesday's session and will be back full-time beginning this weekend. His absence, meanwhile, has shown that the staff would likely once again move Adam Hines to left tackle if Sowells were to go down. Hines worked at left tackle on Wednesday.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Greg Brown made a couple of big plays during 11-on-11 drills, slipping his blocker and stopping IU tailbacks in the backfield. The staff used Brown and both right tackle and left tackle Wednesday with the No. 1 unit, flanked by Russ Richardson, while Ben Ishola and Victor Adeyanju continue to hold down the No. 1 defensive end spots.
Jake Powers and Josh Moore appear to be in a hotly contested battle for a starting outside linebackers spot. Moore worked with the No. 1 unit on Tuesday, but it was Powers who was with the No. 1 unit Wednesday along with middle linebacker John Pannozzo and Kyle Killion. Moore was joined on the No. 2 unit Ryan Marando in the middle and Adam McClurg at the other outside linebacker spot. Isaac Price also rotated in with the No. 2s at outside linebacker.
NEWS AND NOTES:
- Derrick Puckett, a defensive back from Indianapolis, has joined the Hoosier roster. Puckett is wearing No. 44.
- Jammie Kirlew continues to get work with both the defensive line and linebackers. On Monday and Wednesday Kirlew worked at defensive end with defensive line coach Brian George, while he was with the linebackers on Tuesday.
- former Illinois quarterback Dustin Ward has joined the Indiana coaching staff as a G.A. The 6-3, 205-pound Ward started a handful of games for the Illini in both 2002 and 2003. In 2002 Ward went 16-of-23 for 204 yards against Indiana, and in 2003 he was 15-of-21 for 163 yards in a 17-14 loss to the Hoosiers.
- Freshman quarterback Kellen Lewis has been a big surprise this fall, looking sharp with the No. 3 unit. During 7-on-7 drills and 11-on-11 Lewis is getting plenty of reps, thanks to the fact IU only has three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. He broke free for a big gain on an option keeper on the final play of 7-on-7 drills.
Football Practice Report - Day 3
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