Players, Coaches React to Hoeppner's Absence

Following the Hoosiers' first spring football practice, IU players and coaches react to Coach Terry Hoeppner's absence. We also offer a handful of notes about what unfolded Tuesday at the IU practice fields...

Bloomington, Ind. – Hoosier players and coaches might not have seen Coach Terry Hoeppner on the sidelines during Tuesday's spring practice opener, but they all know he will be watching.

As Indiana wrapped up the first of 15 spring practice sessions at the IU practice fields Tuesday, the cranes lowered and the videotapes were gathered. An additional copy will be made and delivered to Hoeppner, who will be doing his own evaluations from home.

"We're not acting like it's not a big deal that he's not here, but in the same breath, he'll be looking over our shoulder," said IU quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Matt Canada. "There are cameras everywhere and he's going to see everything and know what's going on."

Among the things Hoeppner figures to be interested in are the timing of the throws of quarterbacks Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell as well as the punting effort of true freshman Chris Hagerup, who made his debut as an IU Hoosier Tuesday. There are new players to break in at safety, some talented redshirt freshmen on the offensive line, and pass rusher or two to try to find on the defensive line.

"You miss him being out here, but I guarantee we'll hear from him," Canada said.

Hoeppner's assistant coaches and the Hoosier players went through a similar episode in the fall when the head coach missed two games to undergo a second brain surgery. As was the case the first time around, Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch has taken the reins of the program in Hoeppner's absence and he's running practice much as Hoeppner does when he's available.

But it's still a source of concern for the Hoosier players.

"It's hard (to not have him out here)," said senior Blake Powers, who practiced for the first time at tight end. "You're concerned, and all you can do is pray for him and hope everything turns out okay and he gets the rest he needs to coach us this season."

Defensive tackle Greg Brown echoed those sentiments.

"This isn't anything we thought was coming," Brown said. "He's our head coach. Our thoughts a prayers go out to him for his personal health. We can't wait to get him back."

And to a man, everyone appears confident Hoeppner will be back after this leave of absence and will be on the sidelines when IU kicks off its 2007 season.

"He's not out here because he's taking care of himself, but he's certainly going to be back," Canada said, "and we have an obligation to do it exactly how he wants it done." NEWS AND NOTES:
- position changes of note included: Justin Carrington moving from tailback to linebacker; Alex Perry moving from offensive tackle to center; Jeff Sanders moving from tight end to center.

- William Kegler has once again joined the team. The 6-7 ½, 390-pound defensive tackle went out briefly last fall before departing. But he was once again on the field Tuesday and is a player who could prove to be a huge space eater on IU's defensive front if he makes it to the fall. The goal appears to be to get Kegler's weight down to about 360 by fall.

- there were few surprises on the depth chart on the offensive line – early on, from left tackle to right tackle, IU's No. 1 unit consists of Rodger Saffold, Pete Saxon, Ben Wyss, Jonathan Sandberg and Charlie Emerson. The No. 2 unit, meanwhile, was James Brewer, Kyle Thomas, Jarrod Smith, Cody Faulkner and Mike Stark. Chauncey Incarnato was working with the No. 3 unit at right guard.

- Justin Frye is working with the Hoosiers as a graduate assistant. Top Stories