Bloomington, Ind. – It will likely be another week before the Hoosiers' depth chart begins to get shuffled and take shape, but the competition is already at a high level for Coach Terry Hoeppner's team.
On a cooler and cloudier afternoon than Monday's camp opener, Hoeppner's squad went through its second practice session of the fall, once again going without pads at the IU Practice Fields. The team will be in shoulder pads for the first time on Wednesday, and will be in full pads Friday. The team's first two-a-day, meanwhile, will be Saturday.
Tuesday's practice was a session Hoeppner considered another solid effort, as players both young and old battle for spots on the Hoosiers' two-deep. No where is that competition more intense than at wide receiver, where there are arguably 10 players that are vying for playing time.
"Competition is a great thing," said IU Passing Game Coordinator Matt Canada. "The bottom line is if you want to play, you have to run great routes in practice, because if you're not, someone else will do it."
One wideout who is turning heads is redshirt freshman Chris Banks, a 6-2, 179-pounder from Alliance, Ohio. Banks had arguably the play of the day during 11-on-11 work late in Tuesday's practice, going up and over IU cornerback Chris Phillips for a 35-yard scoring play on a pass from Kellen Lewis. It was the last in a handful of big plays from Banks, who also is one of the team's best at going up and coming down with contested throws.
But Banks wasn't the only wideout to impress. James Bailey had his own 35-yard scoring play on a deep throw from Lewis during one-on-one work against the cornerbacks, and freshman Nick Polk had a nice over the shoulder catch for a score as well. Walk-on Paul Haan got in the mix as well, laying out on a Blake Powers throw for a scoring play during 7-on-7 work at the goal line.
"We have talent, we have guys that can run and catch, that are smart football players – both young and old," Canada said. "That's a huge bonus. It keeps their legs fresh, they are bouncing around, we're getting quality reps.
"Depth is a great thing."
Canada also thinks he has quality depth at quarterback. Powers is the likely starter this season, but Canada has also been impressed with the work of Lewis and McFarland.
"The whole passing game is night and day difference," Canada said. "Blake, Graeme, Kellen – Blake and Graeme especially- they know exactly where they're throwing, the wideouts know where they are supposed to be. It's huge difference from a year ago."
The quarterbacks had a trio of opportunities to work with the wideouts Tuesday, going through one-on-one drills with the wideouts against the corners, followed by 7-on-7 and finally 11-on-11. Unofficially, the quarterbacks combined to go 26-of-46 during one-on-drills, and were 16-of-30 for two touchdowns in 7-on-7s. After Tracy Porter intercepted his first pass during 7-on-7s, Powers went 5-of-10 with a touchdown, while McFarland was 5-of-10 and Lewis was 6-of-10.
Powers then went 4-of-5 during a short 11-on-11 session, completing passes to Polk, Brandon Walker-Roby, Demetrius McCray and finally Nick Sexton for a touchdown over the middle.
"(The quarterbacks) had a great summer," Canada said. "The finer points that they needed to clean up, they worked on them and cleaned it up. I'm really pleased right now."
Note: As was the case on Monday, we'll have up an additional "news and notes" section momentarily for premium subscribers. We'll have comments from Matt Mayberry, news on the placekicking battle, a potential position change, and other tidbits...
Tuesday Fall Camp Practice Report
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