IU Football Camp - Week One Analysis

As practice came to a close on Sunday, Coach Terry Hoeppner's squad now has one full week of camp under its belt. That first week has included the emergence of a handful of newcomers, the back-and-forth battle for quarterback, and a handful of other noteworthy items. Indiana.scout.com take a look back at the big storylines from the first week of practice…

As practice came to a close on Sunday, Coach Terry Hoeppner's squad now has one full week of camp under its belt. That first week has included the emergence of a handful of newcomers, the back-and-forth battle for quarterback, and a handful of other noteworthy items. Indiana.scout.com take a look back at the big storylines from the first week of practice…

1. Freshman Class – Few outside of Bloomington were singing the praises of Indiana's 2005 recruiting class in February, but if the first week is any indication, there are a slew of true freshmen who can be major contributors in the not-too-distant future.

Remarkably, it's not the biggest name of the class – Daytona Beach, Fla., product Matt Lewis – that has made the most noise. While Lewis has shown glimpses of why he was considered one of the top prep players in Florida a year ago, he's been playing catch-up this week from a conditioning standpoint, and has yet to look like a player ready to contribute this season. He spent most of the week at middle linebacker working with the No. 3 unit, but spent Friday's practice session playing defensive tackle – a position IU is thin at from a depth standpoint.

Among the newcomers who have made the most noise are defensive end Jammie Kirlew, wide receivers Nick Polk, Andrew Means and Brandon Walker-Roby and defensive end Neal Jones. Kirlew, who spent time at both linebacker and defensive end early on, has seemingly already cracked the two-deep at defensive end and looks like an immediate contributor. Like Jones, Kirlew can explode off the line and is especially dangerous in passing situations.

Wide receiver is a position where many expected freshmen to be a factor. While returnees like Jahkeen Gilmore, James Hardy and Marcus Thigpen have been very good this fall and appear to the frontrunners to start, IU will likely use six to seven wideouts during the course of the season. Polk has terrific hands and has made as many tough catches as anyone early on. Means, meanwhile, has spent a lot of time with the No. 3 unit and is physically ready to play at the Big Ten level. His downfield blocking, meanwhile, can also be a big plus in the running game. Walker-Roby, meanwhile, has been coming on as of late, and his speed makes him a solid deep threat and a weapon on reverses.

You also can't forget placekicker Joe Kleinsmith, who has to be the favorite to handle the placekicking duties this fall. He'll have to beat out the likes of Austin Starr and Kevin Trulock, but the strength of Kleinsmith's leg is obvious, and he certainly has the potential to give the IU special teams a big lift.

2. Quarterbacks – There's no questioning that the play from the quarterbacks is improved from where it was in the spring. Both Graeme McFarland and Blake Powers spent the entire summer in Bloomington learning the offense, studying film, and working with the crops of wide receivers. But there's also no doubt that neither has taken control of the job in the opening week of practice.

Powers, who threw the ball well in practice on Saturday, has received most of the snaps with the No. 1 offense during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work at the close of each practice. He's shown off a very strong arm and an ability to put the ball on target on deep throws. But he's also made a few mistakes, particularly on throws over the middle where Hoosiers defensive backs and linebackers have been able to step in front of throws to create turnovers. McFarland, meanwhile, has been making good decisions and hasn't had the same sort of problems with turnovers during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, but he hasn't dominated the defense, either.

Quarterbacks coach Matt Canada seems much more pleased with both with their decision-making, which is certainly a result of the work both put in this summer. Overall, the play from the position has been solid, but not spectacular, so the position appears to still be very much up for grabs.

3. Wide Receivers – It was one of the biggest question marks with the loss of Courtney Roby and the uncertainty of exactly how good the crop of freshmen would be. But early on, it looks like a position that will be better than most expected once the Sept. 2 opener arrives, and a position that will only get better as the season goes along.

Not only is there a plethora of talent at the position, there's also the sort of competition that is preventing any sort of let up from anyone in the group.

The No. 1 unit of three – James Hardy, Marcus Thigpen and Jahkeen Gilmore – has remained the same throughout the first week of drills. Gilmore has been the clearcut No. 1 option, able to get deep and make the catch over the middle. Hardy is much bigger and stronger than he was a year ago, and his potential is obvious. Thigpen, meanwhile, has been a dangerous weapon out of the slot, someone who does the majority of his damage after the catch. They are each different types of receivers as well, serving as good complements to one another.

Add in a seemingly healthy James Bailey, Lance Bennett, Rhett Kleinschmidt and the freshmen, and there are eight or nine wideouts who can have legitimate hopes of being in the rotation this season.

4. Offense Line Depth – While it's getting better, it's still a concern for Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson and the IU staff.

A year ago, season-ending injuries to Chris Mangiero and Isaac Sowells forced a shuffling of the line. Indiana appears to be in a similar situation this season, with probably seven offensive linemen who appear ready to step in and play if needed. In addition to likely starters Sowells, Hines, Mangiero, Brandon Joyce and Justin Frye, senior Brandon Hatcher and sophomore Jonathan Sandberg have experience and appear ready to contribute when called upon. But the rest of the No. 2 unit still has a ways to go to avoid a drop off in injuries hit again.

Sowells is certainly a big key for the group – he's the most athletically gifted of the bunch, the sort of player has been as steady as they come during 11-on-11 work and in 1-on-1 drills. In addition, his presence alongside left guard Adam Hines makes the left side of the line an inviting tandem to run behind. Mangiero doesn't get the sort of attention as Sowells, but he's a leader up front, an outspoken, tenacious player who won't back down from anyone. That sort of toughness is something Johnson loves, and something that his teammates feed off.

5. Team chemistry – There's no question that the players on the roster have bought into what Terry Hoeppner and staff are preaching. While there were a slew of player defections when Gerry DiNardo took over the program nearly four years ago, the same can't be said this time around. The staff and Hoeppner's vision has been a big hit with the team, all of whom appear to think this year's team can be a big surprise in the Big Ten.

Certainly some of the credit for that goes to DiNardo, as many of the players in the senior class that have provided leadership were brought to Bloomington by the former IU coach. Players such as Adam Hines, Russ Richardson, John Pannozzo, Chris Taylor and Kyle Killion were DiNardo recruits who have made the transition for the new coaching staff and the team as a whole much easier than it was for DiNardo when he first arrived in town.

Whether that's because of the character of the players that DiNardo recruited or because of the approach Hoeppner took when he first arrived in December, it's been a big hit with the team – that much has been obvious early on. And that will be big as the Hoosiers try to earn their first bowl invitation since 1993.

6. Defensive Tackle depth - As is the case on the opposite side of the ball, there are some concerns here for co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Brian George. There's no question that redshirt freshman Greg Brown looks like a good one, someone whose 6-2, 300-pound frame will be good against the run, and whose athleticism will enable him to be a factor in rushing the quarterback as well. Six-foot, 265-pound Russ Richardson remains one of the smaller defensive tackles in the Big Ten, but he's been solid this fall.

Behind those two, though, things remain unsettled. Sophomore Charlie Emerson has good size at 6-5 and 270 pounds, but has very little experience and hasn't jumped out early on this fall. Sophomore Joe Kremer is someone the staff is hoping can be a reliable second string option , and he has good size as well at 6-2, 295 pounds.

It's important that Emerson, Kremer or someone else such as Kenny Love, Jr., emerge as a solid option so that George can rotate his defensive tackles and not rely exclusively on Brown and Richardson, who might be susceptible to wearing down late in games if they're forced to play too many snaps. Another option that George will likely consider is working Victor Adeyanju in at defensive tackle and bringing in Kenny Kendal to play opposite Ben Ishola in some situations.

OTHER NOTES: - Indiana is still waiting for the debut of 6-3, 275-pound true freshman Emile Bass, who is still waiting for an NCAA Clearinghouse matter to get straightened out. Bass has missed the first week of practice, but the matter was expected to be resolved either this weekend of the first of this coming week, meaning Bass should be on the practice field any day.

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