Bloomington, Ind. – The third day of fall camp had a different look Wednesday.
After spending the first two days of the mandatory five-day "acclimation period" in just helmets, Coach Terry Hoeppner's squad wore shoulder pads for the first time Wednesday. They'll have one more day with shoulder pads before going to full pads on Friday. Then, camp hits full speed Saturday when the team has its first two-a-day.
Wednesday also offered a different look for the Hoosier offensive linemen. All of offensive line coach Bobby Johnson's players wore knee braces, obviously in an effort to keep the players on the field and out of the training room.
While Wednesday's practice offered the opportunity for a little more contact than the team had been able to get on the first two days, it didn't provide everything that cornerbacks coach and co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic was hoping for.
"I thought (practice today) was okay," Palcic said. "I was hoping for a little more intensity, it being the first day in shoulder pads."
The coaching staff is looking for not only intensity, but a little more tempo as well. Hoeppner stressed the importance of players running as opposed to walking between drills, and to get in and out of their drills as quickly as possible so that they can maximize the reps they get every day.
Afterwards, Hoeppner told the team he was generally pleased with their effort on that front.
"I asked you to pick up the tempo today, and for the most part I thought we did," Hoeppner said.
Hoeppner might have been satisfied in that area, but during the early portion of practice he wasn't necessarily pleased with the effort from his four placekickers, Austin Starr, Michael Hines, Kevin Trulock and Nick Ford. After solid efforts on the first two days of practice, the group struggled in the special teams portion of practice Wednesday.
That was obvious when the quartet combined to go 1-of-6 in attempts from 40 yards out. Starr converted the group's first kick from 40, but then Trulock missed wide left, Hines wide right, Ford wide left, Starr wide right, and then Trulock missed the group's fifth straight when his kick came up short and hit the cross bar.
Things weren't necessarily better during the kickoff coverage, when Starr didn't catch the drill's first kickoff solid and it went out of bounds well short of the return men. That drew the ire of Hoeppner, whose stressed the importance of the team being much better on special teams than it was a year ago.
The special teams work did provide a glimpse into who might be the team's return men this fall, and who might be on the coverage teams as well. Indications are Lance Bennett will once again be the frontrunner to handle punt returns this season. The No. 1 punt coverage team, meanwhile, included the likes of a Leslie Majors, Josiah Sears, Jake Powers, Adam McClurg, Eric McClurg, Ryan Marando and Jerry Williams. The team looked at a handful of players in the "gunner" role, including Ray Fisher, Demetrius McCray and Nick Polk.
The kickoff return team, meanwhile, consisted of Eric McClurg, Powers, Ryan Skelton, Sears, Isaac Price, Ty Altman, Casey Nowinski and Nick Sexton, with both Bennett and McCray back for the return.
After the special teams portion of practice came to a close, the team went back to working out with their individual position coaches before going into some 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work at the close of practice. As has been the case the first two days, Indiana's quarterbacks continue to make big plays with a talented group of wide receivers that have all been making big plays this fall.
Palcic thinks the fact the team isn't able to go all out while it goes through the NCAA mandated acclimation period could be having an impact.
"I think these five days of getting acclimated start to wear on you a little bit," Palcic said. "They are ready to get in full pads and play at full speed. I'm looking to get on the guys a little bit tomorrow, for the defense to come out with a little more intensity."
Wednesday Fall Camp Practice Report
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