Since the close of the 2005 campaign, the Hoosiers' 6-4, 221-pound quarterback has spent the last eight months preparing for his second season under center. But with a year of starting experience under his belt and a second straight season with the same offense, he's in a much different situation than he was 12 months ago.
He's now familiar with what IU Coach Terry Hoeppner and IU Passing Game Coordinator Matt Canada want out of him, and he's taking huge strides toward improving on last year's 2,305-yard, 22-touchdown, 16-interception season.
"This summer I've been able to take a step back and study defenses more," Powers said. "Last year it was more about learning the offense and the new concepts. It was my third offense in three years. It was more about getting on top of what we were doing.
"Now, I'm already there and on top of that. So I feel like I can take a step back and look at defenses, see their tendencies and see things they do defensively instead of worrying about what we're doing offensively."
What the Hoosiers want to do offensively is spread the ball around the field to a talented group of wide receivers and tailbacks, and they'll rely on Powers' strong arm to do just that. If his performance in the spring game (7-of-11, 289 yards and three touchdowns) is any indication, he is poised for a huge junior season.
His teammates think he'll do just that.
"The one guy who is starting to really get it is Blake," said senior Will Meyers. "He just looks good to me. This spring, more than ever, I thought he was great. The level of maturity he's showing, and he's taking a leadership role and directing the offense, I expect big things from him."
Leadership is another area Powers thinks he'll need to be a big factor as well. The quarterback position is naturally a leadership spot on the field, but the fourth-year junior is also now one of the team's most experienced players.
"This off-season I've tried to become more of a vocal leader," Powers said. "I've always tried to lead by example, but now I'm leading by example and vocally. I've stepped up a lot in that area, because I know someone has to do it. It's not always going to be rosy – you're going to have to get under some people's skin to get them to give it everything they've got."
While Powers' presence makes Indiana very good at quarterback, the options behind him only go to strengthen IU at the position.
Fifth-year senior Graeme McFarland has served as the No. 2 quarterback in both 2003 (to Matt LoVecchio) and 2005 (to Powers) and has significant game experience. He saw action in seven games a year ago, completing 10-of-25 passes for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis, meanwhile, heads into camp as the team's No. 3. A late signee in the Hoosiers' 2005 recruiting class, the 6-1, 177-pounder has a very strong arm and is easily one of the team's most elusive players in the open field. Decision-making is the area he needs to make the biggest strides, but there's no doubting his physical tools.
Rounding out the scholarship quarterbacks is true freshman Ben Chappell, a 6-3, 215-pounder from Bloomington (Ind.) South H.S. A first-team All-State choice as a senior, Chappell threw for 2,359 yards and 27 touchdowns a year ago while also running for another seven scores. He put an exclamation mark on his prep career with an MVP performance at the Indiana High School North-South All-Star game last month, completing 9-of-13 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
Lewis and Chappell might be the future at the position, but Powers is the present, and IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch expects a big jump from his this fall.
"I think a guy like Blake is going to make tremendous strides with each time out," Lynch said. "A guy like him, he's been through a couple different offenses since he's been here. He has the same quarterback coach for the third straight year, and the offense for the second straight year, I think that will all be a benefit to him."