BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The calendar might insist it's spring, but Saturday's third Hoosier spring football practice had little to do with the warmer weather that's associated the second season of the year.
In their first day in pads, Coach Terry Hoeppner's Hoosiers practiced in Memorial Stadium out of necessity – the IU field hockey team was using the Mellencamp Pavilion for a seven-team spring tournament. That left the Hoosier football team outside in approximately 40-degree temperatures, practicing for a shade over two hours in weather that ranged from snowy to sunny.
In spite of the weather, it was still a well attended practice, most notably by a couple of incoming recruits as well as a handful of prospective '07 recruits. Recent signees Cody Faulkner and Alex Perry were both in attendance, as were approximately 10-15 high school players from around the Midwest.
On the field, there was plenty of helmets popping as the team went to full pads. While the day's 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work didn't involve tackling, there were still plenty of big hits delivered along the sidelines and on the initial contact as players attempt to work their way up the spring two-deep.
There were a handful of things that irritated Hoeppner as well, most notably some mental lapses during 11-on-11 work.
"We did some good things, but you always hope it will go better, that you're not going to have the obvious mistakes that we had today," Hoeppner said. "But that's not reality. We'll watch the tape and learn and get better."
Despite the lapses Saturday, Hoeppner still says the team is a long way ahead of where it was a year ago, when he and his staff took over.
"We're light years ahead of where we were last year," Hoeppner said. "We're able to communicate and talk to the kids better. As a coaching staff we're able to communicate offense to defense. I'm pleased with the team's eagerness. We have the redshirt guys that are trying to prove to us that they can play football. Because of that there are things that won't run as smoothly as you'd like, but overall attitude and energy level, I'm pleased with that."
Hoeppner likes the energy level of his team, as both sides of the ball were quick to congratulate teammates after big stops or gainers.
"As long as we keep the enthusiasm and energy high, we're an athletic team," Hoeppner said. "If they are going to keep being willing to learn, we'll be willing to teach them. That's all you can ask for right now."
On the most anticipated spring battles remains at quarterback. During 7-on-7 work, quarterbacks Graeme McFarland, Blake Powers and Kellen Lewis were sharp, but relied primarily on underneath routes. The trio combined to go 28-of-36 during 7-on-7, with Powers and Lewis both going 9-for-12 and McFarland going 10-of-12.
Those were good numbers, but Hoeppner admits that there's still work to be done at that position – just like every other one.
"Overall I'm not going to be satisfied with anything until we get to fall and we're whooping up on people," Hoeppner said. "I'd be remiss in my job if I was satisfied. I let them know that I'm not upset with them and we'll keep working hard.
"We'll have a good teaching day tomorrow and then come back in pads on Tuesday and be better than we were today. That's the goal, that's the anticipation."
SPRING FOOTBALL: Saturday Practice Report
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