Blake Powers has impressed early on with not only with the plays he's made, but also the ones that he hasn't.
The 6-4, 235-pound quarterback heads into Saturday's 5:45 p.m. contest against Kentucky fresh off a 307-yard, four-touchdown effort in IU's 35-31 win over Nicholls State. Included in Powers' afternoon was overseeing a 10-play, 89-yard game-winning scoring drive in the game's final four minutes that also included a 22-yard scramble by Powers with IU facing a 3rd-and-18.
While those sort of plays have pleased the staff, but so have the ones that Powers has avoided making in his first season as a starter.
"Last week, there were very few plays that you'd like to have back," said Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch. "That's pretty good for a quarterback. If you play 75 plays in a football game generally there are a few that you'd like to have back. But I don't think he had that many on Saturday. So that's a good sign."
Powers has overseen an IU passing attack that has exceeded expectations in the season's opening two weeks. With Powers getting his first chance to start, coupled with a crop of wide receivers who were talented by unproven, many expected the Hoosiers to rely on the running of Chris Taylor and Yamar Washington.
The running game has struggled, but the passing attack has flourished. Indiana is averaging 296.5 yards passing/game, which ranks second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally.
"It's very satisfying as an offense (to be throwing the ball with success), but you can never be fully satisfied with your performance," said Powers. "There's always something you can do better."
There's no mistaking the amount of improvement that Powers has made, and Lynch credits IU quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, along with a summer of work, for the sophomore's progress.
"I think Matt Canada has done a great job with him," said Lynch. "I think it helped (Blake) a lot that Matt was still coaching him (after the coaching change).
"You also figure that this was a new offense that Blake had to learn, with new terminology. There was a growing period in the spring, but I think the fact that he was here all summer and thinking about it and throwing the routes and using the terminology, that's really paying off now."
Lynch and Powers hope that it will pay off Saturday, when Indiana looks for just is second win over the Wildcats in the last 11 years.
It's also Powers' first chance to play against his homestate team. The Brandenburg, Ky., native has always been an IU fan since his father, Dan, is a former IU player. But Powers did take his share of ribbing while growing up in the Bluegrass State for his allegiance to Indiana.
"Ever since I can remember, even in the first grade, I'd wear Hoosier clothes to school and kids would say stuff," said Powers. "I didn't care. All through high school I wore Indiana proudly and caught a lot of trash-talking from hard-core Wildcat fans."
That said, Powers is trying to not put too much emphasis on this week's contest.
"You have to approach every single week trying to win for the team and prepare the best you can every week, no matter the opponent," said Powers. "Kentucky is a good team. They've gotten the best of us the last couple of years. We have to come out ready to play and try to get a win."
Powers Powering IU Offense
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