Bloomington, Ind. – Terry Hoeppner might not have been at the IU practice fields on Tuesday for the Hoosiers' second day in pads this spring, but he's up to speed on the team's progress.
IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch said Hoeppner is in fact getting the tapes from each practice and seeing what's unfolding with the team this spring.
"I talked to him Monday, and he's well aware of what's going on," Lynch said. "At the same time, he's also doing a good job of doing what he needs to do. I'm sure he's as antsy as can be."
Tuesday's practice was a busy one. It was the Hoosiers' second day in pads, following up on Saturday's opener in pads. It included the usual array of special teams and position work, followed by 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work to close practice.
It was also a well attended session, as the regular ensemble of media and IU athletics employees were joined by a handful of high school and college coaches (including former IU defensive tackle Larry McDaniel, now an assistant coach at Kent) as well as a couple of recruits, including a 6-5 or 6-6 wide receiver from Lake Forest (Ill.) High School.
For the players, spring provides a chance to either solidify a spot in the lineup or to grab the attention of the coaching staff in an effort to get a chance once fall practice rolls around.
"With spring, it isn't where you win a job," said IU wide receivers coach Billy Lynch. "It's when you position yourself to win a job in the fall. And the guys know that the tape doesn't lie."
Hoeppner is among those who will be closely scrutinizing the tape from today's session. Among the items he'll likely note:
- there are still some issues with what IU is going to do at the punting position. Indiana brought in freshman Chris Hagerup at the semester so that he'd be able to get work in this spring and presumably be ready to handle to job once fall rolls around. But in the couple of practices the media has been able to attend, Hagerup has struggled. He has shown a big leg when he gets ahold of a kick, but he's had quite a few shanks as well. With that in mind, fifth-year senior Michael Hines will also be a possibility once fall rolls around if Hagerup doesn't get things sorted out…
- there's plenty of speed at the linebacker position, although IU is still trying to develop some quality depth. Sophomore-to-be Will Patterson wasn't at practice Tuesday due to a funeral, which left Adam McClurg and Geno Johnson on the No. 1 unit, plus a rotation at the other outside linebacker spot. Justin Carrington even got some reps with the No. 1s. Matt Mayberry, meanwhile, was getting work with the No. 2s at a middle linebacker position, while Mandela Roberts and Jerry Williams were working with the No. 2s.
"Our linebacker play will be good," Lynch said. "We have some young guys…but they can all run and hit you. The great ones are the ones that can run down the stake."
Johnson had a couple of those big hits Tuesday. During 11-on-11 he twice delivered big blows on Ray Fisher. The sophomore wide receiver broke free from a couple of would-be tacklers with spins before getting hammered by Johnson. Later in 11-on-11, Johnson delivered a similar blow to Fisher when the fleet-footed wideout came free over the middle.
- The Hoosiers continue to impress at the quarterback position. Kellen Lewis was particularly sharp during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, generally putting his throws right on the IU wideouts hands. He had a deep ball down the sideline that went through the hands of a wide open James Bailey for an incompletion, but Bailey bounced back on his next series by going up high over the middle to bring down a Lewis throw. No. 2 Ben Chappell, meanwhile, continues to get plenty of reps as well and has been on target as well, further suggesting the move of Blake Powers to tight end could be a very good one for the team.
- The wide receiver position is arguably the most competitive on the team. Billy Lynch said he has a slew of players competing for the starting spots, and ultimately he'll need six to be ready on any given game week. James Hardy had to miss a portion of practice Tuesday due to class, leaving Nick Polk, Andrew Means and James Bailey with the No. 1s.
"The wide receiver position has a lot of depth – we're strong there," Lynch said. "We've got eight guys competing for four spots, so they have to bring it every rep. The good teams, the 2s are really as good as the 1s and we're working toward that."
- Offensive Line figures to have a great deal more depth this year as well. The No. 1 unit currently consists of (from left tackle to right tackle) Rodger Saffold, Johnathan Sandberg, Ben Wyss, Pete Saxon and Charlie Emerson. The No. 2s included James Brewer, Kyle Thomas, Alex Perry, Cody Faulkner and Mike Stark.
The focus for the team remains very much getting better on a daily basis as the team builds toward the Cream and Crimson game in 2 ½ weeks.
"The thing with us with our 15 practices, we have 26 days to get better every day," Billy Lynch said. "You get better on the off days watching film – that's how you get better every day. We're doing that."
SPRING PRACTICE: Tuesday Practice Report
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