Controversy at Quarterback?

Bloomington, Ind. – IU quarterbacks coach Matt Canada admits there's a controversy with the Hoosiers' quarterback position. Of course, that's no different than the situation at every other spot in the line-up.

Bloomington, Ind. – IU quarterbacks coach Matt Canada admits there's a controversy with the Hoosiers' quarterback position.

Of course, that's no different than the situation at every other spot in the line-up.

"They all want to play – everyone does at every spot," Canada said Wednesday. "We have a controversy at every spot on the team because everyone wants to play. It's just that everyone wants to talk about the quarterback."

The quarterback everyone has been talking about is redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis, the team's third-stringer before his impressive debut Saturday at Ball State. With Blake Powers and Graeme McFarland sidelined with injuries, Lewis completed 15-of-28 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown while running 12 times for another 88 yards and a score to propel IU to a come-from-behind 24-23 victory in Muncie.

That effort has many calling for Lewis to start this weekend over Powers, the junior who had started the team's previous 12 games dating back to the start of the '05 season. Powers missed the Ball State game with a leg injury but returned to practice Tuesday and split time with Lewis working with the No. 1 unit Wednesday.

"People who say controversy are confused," Canada said. "You look around the country and see all the guys who are looking for quarterbacks to play. It's not a controversy to me – we have great players at the position."

But unless IU opts to go with a quarterback rotation – which could be a possibility at least in the short term – only one can play. Powers proclaimed himself "ready to go" after practice Wednesday, meaning health concerns shouldn't stand in his way of playing this weekend against Southern Illinois.

Ultimately, Canada says the decision comes down to figuring out which quarterback gives the team the best chance of being successful.

"Every week is a big week," Canada said. "We feel great about our situation. I have three guys who have played and played very well. It's a matter of which guy gives us the best chance to win football games. We'll look at that each week and make a decision based on that, and that's where we are now."

Powers obviously has the edge in experience. He has 12 career starts to his credit and was under center for the first three quarters of IU's 39-20 win over Western Michigan in the season-opener. He also had a record-setting sophomore campaign, throwing for 2,305 yards and a school-record 22 touchdowns.

Lewis, meanwhile, brings an added the dimension to the position with his ability to make big plays with his running ability, which he put on display with his 23-yard touchdown scamper late in the third quarter against Ball State.

"It's great (to have that ability to run), no question," Canada said. "He can make things happen with his feet, and that's great just like it's great to have a guy who can throw an 18-yard come back on a rope, too. So it's a great situation.

"Blake has played a whole bunch of football and set the touchdown record last year, and then there's Kellen who came in and made some plays, and was very, very important to us winning that (Ball State) game, no question."

So who will be under center Saturday? That's still to be determined. Canada knows, though, that there will be plenty of interested on-lookers waiting to see who does in fact get the nod.

"That's part of the good and the bad of being the (quarterback) - you get all the credit and all the blame," Canada said. "That's the reality of the position. These two guys are doing a great job practicing. Blake has come back well, Kellen did a good job Saturday night, and Graeme (McFarland) hopefully will get ready to go. So we'll keep moving along, and see who gives us the best chance to win."


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