Excitement In the Air For IU Football

For Coach Terry Hoeppner and the IU football coaching staff, the most exciting part of the year is just around the corner - the start of fall camp. IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch talks about what's in store beginning Aug. 6...

Bloomington, Ind. – The best time of year is just around the corner for the IU football coaching staff.

In less than two weeks, IU Coach Terry Hoeppner and staff will welcome 105 players to fall camp to kick off the 2006 campaign. The group will be complete with talented returnees such as the record-setting tandem of wide receiver James Hardy and quarterback Blake Powers, along with promising newcomers such as Cody Faulkner and Matt Mayberry.

The start of camp also wraps up a nearly eight-month off-season where the focus has been the start of the '06 campaign.

"From the time you finish up the last game in the fall, all the work you do is geared toward opening camp next year," said IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch. "That's from recruiting to planning to spring practice."

The first to arrive for camp will be the Hoosiers' freshman class, which reports Aug. 6. The veterans report the following day, which will also mark the first day of fall practice. After the NCAA-mandated five-day acclimation period during which teams are allowed to practice only once per day, Indiana will have its first two-a-day session Aug. 12, followed by the first day in pads Aug. 13.

The season, meanwhile, opens Sept. 2 with a home contest against Western Michigan.

Lynch says fall camp is a unique time of year because the team and staff is able to devote their entire attention to the football field.

"It's a really great time, with very few distractions," Lynch said. "You have the players' undivided attention. It's the only time of year you have them in that setting (where they aren't in class), so you can do a lot of things from a football standpoint."

It also provides the coaching staff the opportunity to see what sort of progress players have made since spring practice closed in April. With most of the Hoosier players have been in town this summer working out, coaches aren't permitted to be in attendance during the summer months' voluntary workouts.

"You're excited about a combination of two things," Lynch said. "One is seeing how players have developed over the course of time, how they've developed since spring practice, seeing how the freshmen will fit in. You need to find those things out during that period of time.

"From a football standpoint, you are also always tweaking what you're doing a little bit as well. So you're excited to see how that plays out and how it fits your personnel."

Determining how the Hoosiers' 06 freshman class will fit in will be one of the biggest storylines of fall camp. There are a variety of spots where newcomers could make an impact this season, most notably on the offensive line and at linebacker. There's also a possibility that freshman walk-on kicker Nick Ford could challenge for that job as well.

On paper it would appear the likes of Ford, Faulkner and Mayberry might have the best chances to be early contributors, but Lynch says the staff has to take a wait-and-see approach when dealing with true freshmen.

"You spend so much time recruiting them and you feel like you have a good feel for how they fit and their ability level," Lynch said. "But it's always a little different when they get to camp.

"I think as much as anything it's the adjustment to a new environment. Maybe that's being away from home for the first time, being away from girlfriends, being away from mom and dad or whoever it is who is the security blanket back home, adjusting to the speed of college football. Each guy is different. Some guy you might think might take a little longer might jump out to you in day one."

While it's a challenge for a true freshman in any sport to make an immediate contribution, Lynch says football presents a challenge that is even more difficult than, say, men's basketball, because of the fact it's played in the fall.

"I really think football is the toughest with it, because they are trying to earn a spot on your football team before they ever attend a class," Lynch said. "In basketball or a winter sport or spring sport, they go through that college adjustment before they have to really compete for a spot, let alone play a game.

"That's the unknown and the exciting part."

Peegs.com Top Stories