Monday Fall Camp Practice Report

Bloomington, Ind. – Maybe the running game isn't as big of a concern as Saturday's scrimmage might suggest. By design, the passing game was a point of emphasis during Saturday's 111-play scrimmage, and now the attention will likely turn to the running game...

Bloomington, Ind. – Maybe the running game isn't as big of a concern as Saturday's scrimmage might suggest.

While Blake Powers' 227-yard, two-touchdown day had on-lookers feeling good about the IU aerial attack following Saturday's 111-play intrasquad scrimmage, the ground game didn't produce the same sort of results. Tailbacks Marcus Thigpen, Josiah Sears and Bryan ran for a combined 15 yards on nine carries, with only two carries that went for five yards or more.

Those numbers, though, didn't send up a red flag according to IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch.

"I think when you look at the scrimmage, we went into that scrimmage knowing we were going to emphasize throwing the football," Lynch said. "Everything you do out here at camp is a progression, and we had spent a lot of time working on that phase, so we emphasized it in the scrimmage."

The numbers bear that out. Quarterbacks Blake Powers, Graeme McFarland, Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell combined for 53 pass attempts, going 33-of-53 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns against only one interception. By contrast, no IU tailback rushed more than three times.

Not only were the tailbacks short on opportunities, they were also short-handed. The Hoosiers were without redshirt freshman Demetrius McCray, who has been battling with Thigpen for the starting job this fall. After a week away from the practice field to sort out an "academic issue," McCray was back at practice Monday, apparently cleared to resume working out with the team.

His return provides an elusive option for the IU staff.

"I think between Thigpen, McCray and Josiah, you have three different kind of guys," Lynch said. "Marcus is just so far. Demetrius has great natural moves with the ball, and Josiah is so strong. Plus, we've got Payton who's shown some good things. I think our backs are really good."

The final week of camp will likely provide more of an opportunity for on-lookers to see what Lynch is talking about. With the season-opener now less than two weeks away, he expects the run game to become more of an emphasis on the IU practice fields.

"The scrimmage really had nothing to do with what we're going to do running the ball," Lynch said. "I think now we're going to put more emphasis on running the ball as we go through the rest of camp, because we put so much emphasis on throwing the ball early."

News and Notes:
- look for both Matt O'Neal and Nick Sexton to contribute at tight end this year, while redshirt freshman Troy Wagner is also a possibility. O'Neal is likely the most versatile tight end IU has at its disposal, while the 6-5, 250-pound Sexton gives the team another capable blocker.

"O'Neal gives us the most flexibility because he can play with his hand in the ground or in an up position," Lynch said. "Nick Sexton is more of a true tight end, with his hand in the ground. Nick missed a little bit last week, but is back. I think he's really practiced hard and practiced well and made improvement from the spring. He'll be a contributor and Matt will, too. Wagner, (Ty) Harangody – all of them have improved."

- with camp beginning to wind down – "moving day" is Wednesday, as the players will move out of the hotel and into their own housing – the team will likely turn its attention to more situational drills than it has in the first two weeks.

"I think we have to start working hard on situations, whether it's two-minute offense or goal line offense, red zone offense…all those things that come up in a game," Lynch said. "If you don't practice them, you just can't assume the guys will handle those situations. That, as much as anything, we have to do a lot of work on, and then get into the serious Western Michigan game planning." Top Stories