Bloomington, Ind. – Terry Hoeppner doesn't know who it will be, but the Hoosiers' head football coach is sure someone is going to emerge during Saturday's Cream and Crimson football game.
The obvious picks would be a Blake Powers or a James Hardy, the Hoosiers' pitch-and-catch combination that got off to a blazing start a year ago. Powers threw for 2,300 yards and set a single-season IU record with 22 touchdowns, while Hardy had 10 touchdown receptions and 893 yards in his redshirt freshman season.
But Hoeppner isn't so sure it will be one of the team's past headline performers that commands the spotlight Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
It might wind up being a Demetrius McCray or a Justin Carrington, two of five tailbacks battling for the starting position. Perhaps it will be Nick Polk, a redshirt freshman wide receiver who appears to have worked his way onto the No. 1 unit as a fourth receiver. It could even be someone on the defensive side of the ball, maybe a young defensive lineman like Emile Bass or Jammie Kirlew who winds up wreaking some havoc in the team's final spring practice session.
Saturday's 4 p.m. Cream and Crimson game is a great – and final - opportunity for the Hoosier players to leave a mark in a game setting and thus leave a lasting impression on the IU coaching staff before the summer arrives.
"Saturday is truly as close to a game that we can play with the numbers we've got, with the team we've got," Hoeppner said. "Playing a game where you're punting and changing field position…it is inevitably different (than a regular practice). Someone steps up who in the context of practice you don't notice."
That's one of the reasons Hoeppner still likes to play the spring game to cap the spring practice season instead of finishing it off with a regular practice session. Eight Big Ten teams do the same, while Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa don't have a spring game at the conclusion of spring practice.
"As long as we have enough offensive linemen, defensive linemen, we're going to play a spring game," Hoeppner said.
The staff has been in the process of putting together the teams for Saturday's contest, and they find themselves in a much better situation than they were a year ago. Last season Indiana only had 60-70 players practicing during the spring, and this year the number is around 90.
There's also a much more quality depth than there was last season. Positions such as wide receiver, tailback, safety and the defensive line have enough depth that there isn't much of a drop-off – if any at all – from the No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 3.
"We're diving teams up for Saturday, and the good news is there's a lot of, ‘is it this guy or this guy,' as opposed to where we were last year," Hoeppner said. "At a lot of positions we have a lot of quality depth. Is it Demetrius McCray or Marcus Thigpen? Who is it? Right now, there isn't a clear cut No. 1 and then a big drop off to No. 2. At a lot of positions that's the case, and that's good news for us."
Hoeppner is hoping for some more good news Saturday at the spring game when perhaps some additional players come to the surface as potential contributors, players who maybe haven't separated themselves during the first 14 spring practice sessions but do so in a game-type atmosphere.
"Saturday, I don't know who it will be, but somebody is going to be the star of the game, and other guys will be revealed," Hoeppner said. "Because it's as close to a game as we can get."
Who Will Emerge On Saturday?
Peegs.com Top Stories
Video intro: Sophomore walk-on Quentin TaylorIndiana sophomore walk-on Quentin Taylor compares this Indiana team to last year's Big Ten champions and looks ahead to his future after his IU career.
Indiana depth chart vs. MarylandCheck out the Indiana two-deep for this week's game against Maryland.
Hoosier Newsstand, Oct. 26Get the latest articles on Indiana basketball, football and other sports in today's edition of the Hoosier Newsstand.
B1G Teleconference: Wilson, Durkin transcriptRead the full transcript of what Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson and Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin had to say yesterday on the weekly Big Ten Coaches Teleconference.