One practice can't eliminate a solid spring for the secondary, but the Cream and Crimson effort did create cause for concern.
After the defense generally had its way with the offense for the majority of the spring's other 14 practices, it was the offense that picked apart the defense. More specifically, IU's quarterbacks combined to throw for 659 yards and five touchdowns in the 48-minute contest, including four scoring plays of at least 60 yards.
The biggest question facing the secondary is likely depth at cornerback. Indiana returns a pair of starters from a year ago – Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors – but there's minimal experience behind that duo.
A two-year starter with six career interceptions, Porter is the Hoosiers' top coverman. He continued to be the team's biggest playmaker at corner during the spring, coming up with a couple of interceptions and a series of pass break-ups during the spring season. The player Indiana is hoping for improvement from is Leslie Majors, a 5-9, 159-pounder who has excellent speed, but had his struggles a year ago while starting all 11 games.
Beyond those two, though, the staff is also looking add some depth at the position as well to combat opponents' three and four-wide receiver sets. During the spring, the No. 2 unit generally consisted of sophomore Chris Phillips and either true freshman Bruce Hampton or occasionally converted placekicker Joe Kleinsmith. With that lack of depth in mind, there's a very good chance that a true freshman such as Adrian Burks or Richard Council could work their way onto the field with a solid performance during spring camp.
While cornerback is still a bit of a concern this fall, safety figures to be a team strength. The team's depth at the position allowed the staff to make a scheme change that has dropped a safety down to an outside linebacker position, and there's still plenty of talent left to man the free and strong safety spots.
With 2005 starter Troy Grosfield sidelined this spring following knee surgery and with senior Will Meyers dinged up early in the spring, senior Eric McClurg and freshman Austin Thomas work their way onto the No. 1 unit for the majority of the team's 15 practices. Thomas was one of the players who emerged early in the spring and continued to make plays throughout.
"Probably the biggest surprise of the spring is Austin Thomas," said IU's co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic. "He is a guy that is going to see a lot of playing time."
The No. 2 unit, meanwhile, featured Meyers and sophomore Brandon Mosley, a pair of players with experience. Mosley played in 11 games a year ago, while Meyers has 18 career starts and 200 career tackles to his credit. While he worked primarily with the No. 2s in the spring, he figures to be a very important part of the Hoosiers' defensive backfield rotation in the fall.
"I hope to be the kind of a guy who can hopefully do a lot of different things," Meyers said. "Be able to move around, be able to be down, be able to roll high, be able to blitz, be able to move around and show the offense some different things."
Biggest Surprise - Austin Thomas. Safety didn't figure to be a spot where a newcomer would be able to work his way into the rotation, but 6-2, 192-pounder from Woodstock, Ga., seized his opportunity early in spring drills and is now a potential starter this fall. He has excellent size for the position, good speed, and a knack for making plays as well. He looks to be a very good one for IU Coach Terry Hoeppner for the next four years.
Biggest Disappointment – The spring game effort from the secondary. Indiana wants to be a defense that attacks with the blitz and flies to the ball, but the inability of the corners and the safeties to keep wideouts from getting behind them wasn't a good sign. Admittedly the Hoosier quarterbacks and wideouts had a lot to do with the big passing day, but Indiana obviously can't afford to give up that many big plays in the passing game and expect to be successful this fall.
Spring Most Valuable Player – Tracy Porter made his share of plays this spring, but he's also the secondary's most important player this fall. Indiana needs him to develop into a reliable lock-down corner who opposing quarterbacks shy away from. With the abundance of talent league teams have at the wideout position, Porter is a player with the physical skills to be an all-league cornerback. He needs to be put it all together this fall for the defense to be successful.
Post-Spring Analysis - Secondary
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