Football Practice Report - Day 8

Cooler temperatures and overcast skies greeted Coach Terry Hoeppner's squad Monday morning as it went through a 2 ½-hour morning practice session inside Memorial Stadium. Monday's practice included a shuffling of the No. 1 offensive line unit along with the continuation of the hotly contested battles at quarterback and at wide receiver.

Cooler temperatures and overcast skies greeted Coach Terry Hoeppner's squad Monday morning as it went through a 2 ½-hour morning practice session inside Memorial Stadium. Monday's practice included a shuffling of the No. 1 offensive line unit along with the continuation of the hotly contested battles at quarterback and at wide receiver.

Newcomers and returnees alike continue to jockey for a spot in the wide receiver rotation for Assistant Coach Billy Lynch. During 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, just about everyone had a chance to work with the No. 1 unit, and one player who made some noise was freshman Brandon Walker-Roby.

With Lance Bennett sidelined for the morning session, Walker-Roby had plenty of opportunities with the No. 1 unit as a fourth wideout and made the most of it. The North Central H.S. standout made arguably the play of the day during 7-on-7 drills when he snared a pass that was well behind him with one hand, pinning it on his hip before streaking up the field into the endzone.

Another big play was turned in by redshirt freshman James Bailey during 11-on-11 drills. Playing with the No. 2 offensive unit, Bailey got behind IU cornerback Chris Phillips and then was forced to adjust on a deep throw down the sideline from Graeme McFarland. Bailey hauled in the throw with one hand while falling down near the goal line.

While there were some big plays turned in by the offense, it was the defense that likely had the best of the morning practice, particularly during 7-on-7 work with the passing game. The secondary had at least four interceptions during 7-on-7s, including an acrobatic one by safety Troy Grosfield, who looked solid as a nickel back with the No. 1 unit.

The secondary figures to be much improved from a year ago, with the presence of at least three corners that Cornerbacks Coach Troy Douglas feels very good about, along with a couple of two-year starters at safety in Will Lumpkin and Will Meyers.

"Tracey is the most fluid out of all of them," Douglas said after practice Monday. "He has all kinds of ability."

Porter wound up earning a starting job as a true freshman a year ago before his season came to an end in the Ohio State game. But now, Porter is locked in a tough battle with Leslie Majors and Buster Larkins for the starting jobs. Majors burned his redshirt a year ago after Porter went down, and Douglas is high on his abilities as well.

"Leslie probably has the best feet out of all of them, and pure speed," said Douglas. "He's probably also the toughest. He's small, but he's a good tackler and he'll throw his face up there."

Larkins is the veteran of the group, having started games at safety during his IU career as well.

"Buster is probably the technique guy and the smartest, because he's played safety and it helps him with the formations and adjustments," said Douglas. "So he understands where he fits the best."

Those cornerbacks were giving the quarterbacks fits at times during 7-on-7s, but the signal callers were sharper once the team went to full 11-on-11. McFarland put up better numbers during 7-on-7, generally working the underneath routes as well as completing balls the running backs coming out of the backfield. Powers, meanwhile, generally looked by make things happen down the field, with mixed results.

Third-string quarterback Kellen Lewis, meanwhile, continues to make an impression on those in attendance as well. He did throw one interception and nearly had a second throw picked off by freshman outside linebacker Geno Johnson, who is working with the No. 3 defense.

There's no question, though, that the offense was better at the close of practice once the team went 11-on-11. Powers made a nice throw while rolling out to his right to Marcus Thigpen for a 20-yard plus gain. Later, No. 1 tight end Chris Rudanovic made a tough catch while being blanketed by safety Will Lumpkin and rolled into the end zone. McFarland also did some nice work during 11-on-11, hooking up with freshman Nick Polk for a 25-yard gain over the middle, and also completing the deep throw to Bailey down the sideline.

Jumping over to defense, the first-string has been pretty much unchanged this fall, with Victor Adeyanju, Russ Richardson, Greg Brown and Ben Ishola starting on the offensive line; Kyle Killion and John Pannozzo starting at linebacker; Buster Larkins and Leslie Majors starting at corner; and Will Lumpkin and Will Meyers starting at safety. The final outside linebacker spot has been shared between Josh Moore and Jake Powers.

Two impressive plays turned in by the defense during 11-on-11 work came from Ishola and second-string defensive end Jammie Kirlew. Ishola chased down Yamar Washington a screen pass from the opposite side of the field. Kirlew, meanwhile, showed off his athleticism by batting down a ball from McFarland as well.

The team was scheduled to return to the practice fields this afternoon as it went through its second two-a-day of the fall practice season.

NEWS AND NOTES:

- While it's unclear if this was only a temporary move, the Hoosiers also moved Brandon Hatcher from second-string right guard to first string in place of Brandon Joyce midway through Monday's practice.

- The Hoosiers have stayed pretty much injury free this fall. While a couple of players have missed a practice here or there, no one has been sidelined for any significant amount of time. Josh Moore, who is returning from knee injuries, is being used in only one practice on days that IU goes twice to avoid extra wear and tear. Justin Frye, meanwhile, missed Monday morning's practice with a sore foot, but shouldn't be out for any significant amount of time.

- While it's still early, the freshmen tailbacks have yet to make enough noise to suggest that they won't be redshirted this season. With seniors Chris Taylor and Yamar Washington getting the reps with the No. 1 unit and Josiah Sears serving as a nice compliment with the No. 2 unit, it's difficult to see Demetrius McCray, Justin Carrington or Bryan Payton working into the rotation, at least right now. McCray continues to do some nice work out of the backfield in the passing game, and his elusiveness in the open field is obvious once he gets some room to operate.

- Indiana is still waiting for the debut of Emile Bass, who is waiting for a clerical error to be sorted out with the NCAA Clearinghouse. It remains a day-to-day, and wait-and-see matter for the 6-3, 275-pound product from Michigan.

Peegs.com Top Stories