In the midst of mid-afternoon temperatures that reached the low to mid-90s, the IU football team turned up the heat for Friday afternoon's fifth fall practice, going to full pads and full contact at the IU football practice fields.
It was a good day early on for the offense, as both the No. 2 and No. 2 units controlled the play during 7-on-7 work. Yamar Washington and Chris Taylor shared the carries while running behind the No. 1 offensive line, and both were able to break through the line of scrimmage and get into open field. Isaac Sowells, who had missed a handful of practices early on while completely a summer course, was once again back at left tackle, and the strength of the offensive line showed in the work with the running game.
The offense didn't let up when it came time for 7-on-7 work with the passing game, as both Blake Powers and Graeme McFarland were sharp. The two combined to connect on 20 of their first 24 passes, with two of the incompletions being drops. While the lack of pass rush certainly made the task easier on both signal callers, both were on target with their throws, whether on short timing routes or deep downfield.
While one or the other has arguably played better in each of the first four days of practice, the two were generally equal on Friday. After a couple of days that included some good throws by both but also a handful of interceptions, the turnovers through the air were absent from Friday's practice. Powers was picked off by Brandon Mosley in 7-on-7 work, but the mistakes were minimal Friday.
Once the practice went to 11-on-11, the defense was much more stout. Powers spent the majority of the time working with the 1s, while McFarland saw most of his time with the No. 2 offense. The No. 2 offensive unit did put together a couple of nice plays – McFarland hoisted a screen pass to Kenni Burns, who followed two blockers up the sideline and raced into the end zone untouched. Cornerback Chris Phillips had blitzed on the play and wideout Jahkeen Gilmore subsequently run a cross pattern to clear out the side of the field, which gave Burns all the room he needed.
A second big play came when Josiah Sears burst through a huge hole up the middle for a would-be 20-plus yard gain. The excitement of the play, though, was halted when Sears was stripped of the ball late in the run. That miscue was followed by a talk from Hoeppner, who emphasized to his tailbacks the importance of not putting the ball on the ground. That's particularly important with Sears, a player who could be used as a goal line runner this fall.
Both quarterbacks had near misses on deep throws in 11-on-11 work – Powers stepped up in the pocket and his deep throw to Gilmore went off the senior wideout's finger tips. McFarland, meanwhile, lofted a nice deep ball in the direction of James Bailey, who had two steps on his man. But the redshirt freshman was unable to run under the throw and it went for an incompletion. Powers also narrowly missed on a nice throw down the middle to Marcus Thigpen, but Tracy Porter was able to dive in front of Thigpen at the last minute and tip the throw away.
The day's practice ended with some work for the kickers, as the four placekickers on the roster attempted kicks from 33 yards out, with the rest of their teammates yelling and singing the Indiana Fight Song. The kickers were 3-for-4 from the distance, with Kevin Trulock missing wide left, and Michael Hines, Austin Starr and Joe Kleinsmith each knocking their attempts through the uprights.
The Hoosiers return to the practice field Saturday for the first two-a-day session of fall camp. Hoeppner informed his team after practice that Saturday's morning session will include "playing some football," suggesting that at the end of Saturday's session they'll go full contact and go to the ground instead of having the players remain on their feet.
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES:
- Defensive end Victor Adeyanju also worked in at defensive tackle on Friday. The team's second-leading tackles for loss man a year ago with 9.5, Adeyanju moved inside when either Greg Brown or Russ Richardson went to the sideline. Kenny Kendal, meanwhile, would then come in at defensive end opposite Ben Ishola. Defensive line coach/co-defensive coordinator Brian George is still hoping to get better play out of No. 2 defensive tackles Charlie Emerson and Kenny Love, Jr., but right now the five defensive linemen that the staff appears to feel most comfortable with on the field are Richardson, Brown, Adeyanju, Ishola and Kendal. Freshman Jammie Kirlew continues to make progress as well, and it appears he's really pushing Bloomington's Kyle Thomas for a spot on the No. 2 defense.
- For the first time this fall, freshman Matt Lewis found himself at a new position – defensive tackle. Listed at 6-2 and 245 pounds, Lewis reported to camp bigger than the listed weight, but was still working out at middle linebacker until Friday. Another player that caught some people's attention at defensive tackle was converted tight end Todd Newman, a 6-4, 245-pounder who was explosive in 1-on-1 work, as the offensive linemen struggled to keep him in front of them.
Football Practice Report - Day Five
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