Powering The IU Offense

Passing game coordinator Matt Canada talks about where Blake Powers' development is right now, and where he thought it would be three games into his career as a Big Ten starting quarterback.

Three games into his career as IU's starting quarterback, Blake Powers' resume is already impressive - 11 touchdowns, 718 yards, and three wins to his credit. Where does that compare to where his quarterbacks coach, Matt Canada, thought he'd be at this point?

"He's right where I thought he'd be," says Canada with a smile. "There were a lot of doubters, but I wasn't one of them."

While Canada never lost faith, he can understand why there was concern. The quarterback play was up-and-down during spring practice and again during fall camp as Powers and junior Graeme McFarland learned a new system and became familiar with a new crop of receivers.

But after a shaky first quarter in IU's opener against Central Michigan, Powers has been not only what Canada thought he would be, but knew he had to be.

"As I said in the summer, this (quarterback) spot has to be a strength of our football team for us to be successful," said Canada.

Powers has been just that. His 11 touchdown passes ranks second in the Big Ten to Michigan State's Drew Stanton's 13. His pass efficiency rating of 154.4 is also second to Stanton, while Powers' 239.3 yards/game ranks third behind Stanton (296.0) and Nortwestern's Brett Basanez (256.5).

It's not just the numbers, though, that has pleased Canada. It's also the progress that he's seen on a week-to-week basis.

"He's improved each week," said Canada. "Game one he made some throws, and there were some thing we wanted better. Then, game two was similar where he made some throws and missed some throws where he held onto it a tick too long. But he made some plays when he had to, which is what good players do.

"Obviously his best game was Kentucky. We wanted to throw for a better percentage, and we wanted to make better decisions. He had a couple of balls that were dropped, and the other three incompletions were two deep balls and the fade. To have three incompletions that are all deep balls is a pretty efficient day."

Success breeds confidence, and there's no questioning the fact that Powers' quick start has the 6-4, 235-pound sophomore from Brandenburg, Ky., feeling good about where both he and the team are headed in 2005. But Canada thinks that Powers has always had the self-confidence that he'd be able to get the job done when given the chance.

"I think he always knew he could do it," said Canada. "He was a little excited and wound up in the first game and had some happy feet, which is understandable. He had waited his whole life to be a starting quarterback, and he got that opportunity. So early he made some overthrows and did some things that needed to be better.

"But I think he's always had an inner confidence that he could play. Certainly once you have some success that certainly builds confidence and I think that's what's happened now. He has a long way to go, but he's playing how we expected him to and how we need him to for us to be a good football team."

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