Five Positions of Concern for IU Football

As the IU football team prepares for Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage, HoosierNation.com takes a closer look at five positions that remain a concern for the Hoosier coaching staff...

1. CenterIndiana lost a good one from a year ago in Justin Frye, who is now on the IU coaching staff as a graduate assistant. Fifth-year senior Ben Wyss has assumed the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, but is being pushed by some youngsters as well. Jarrod Smith is a redshirt freshman who many assumed would be the heir apparent at center beginning this fall. He's a talented 6-4, 278-pound left-hander from Fairborn, Ohio, who has been working with the No. 2s for much of the spring. But this duo has been joined by a couple of others – converted tight end Jeff Sanders and converted offensive tackle Alex Perry. The 6-7, 251-pound Perry was stuck behind the likes of James Brewer and Mike Stark at tackle and could get a better shot at playing time at center. Sanders, meanwhile, was most recently listed at 6-4 and 235 pounds, so he'll need to put on some weight before he's ready for playing time. The IU staff seems to feel good about the talent and depth it has at the other four offensive line positions, but there are still some concerns about what will unfold at center.

2. Punter – Freshman Chris Hagerup is supposed to be the heir apparent to Tyson Beattie, having enrolled at IU in January so that he could go through spring drills and be ready to go by the time the season arrives in September. If he's going to be the team's punter, though, he's going to have to develop more consistency than he's shown thus far. He has a big leg – he was a first-team All-State pick out of Wisconsin after averaging 44.5 yards/punt as a senior – but has struggled with consistency this spring. Saturday's scrimmage should serve as a good test for Hagerup, who hasn't separated himself from Michael Hines for the spot.

3. No. 3/4 Cornerbacks – It's pretty clear that Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors are going to be the team's top two cornerbacks again this fall, but with so many teams often running three and four wide receiver sets, it's also obvious IU will need three or four reliable cornerbacks as well. So who can show they're ready to be contributors on gamedays? Chris Phillips is the only other cornerback with significant experience, having played in all 12 games a year ago while recording 24 tackles and one interception. But who else is a possibility? Joe Kleinsmith was probably the team's No. 4 corner last fall, but he's been moved to safety. Redshirt freshman Richard Council, meanwhile, is out this spring while recovering from knee surgery. Someone will need to emerge if Indiana's pass defense is going to be better than it was a year ago.

4. Rush End – There are plenty of concerns on the defensive side of the ball, but one of the biggest is a familiar story – being able to generate a pass rush with the front four. The staff feels pretty good about what it has inside, with two-year starter Greg Brown and converted defensive end Keith Burrus both looking like capable pass rushers. But on the edge, IU must do a better job of getting after opposing quarterbacks. Sophomore Jammie Kirlew and junior Brian Faires are the team's current No. 1s, but the duo combined for only 3 ½ sacks a year ago. Faires had two sacks and three tackles for loss in the season opening win against Western Michigan, but then totaled only two more tackles the rest of the season. Kirlew, meanwhile, had 27 stops and five tackles for loss, but didn't generate the sort of consistent pressure IU needs off the edge. If they can't get it done, IU could shuffle things up front and potentially move some interior guys to the outside. There are some youngsters such as Deonte Mack and Greg Middleton who have both shown plenty of potential.

5. Free Safety – The strength of IU's defense a year ago was probably its depth of talent at safety. Will Meyers led the team in both tackles (78) and interceptions (5) and was the biggest playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Troy Grosfield, meanwhile, ranked second on the team with 62 tackles and was one of the team's most reliable one-on-one tacklers. Their departure – along with that of Eric McClurg – leaves some holes to fill. Sophomore Austin Thomas figures to be one of the starters after starting six games a year ago. He totaled 49 tackles, is a big hitter, and is at his best supporting the run. The free safety position, though, is up in the air. Five-foot-eight, 195-pound junior Brandon Mosley has been working with the No. 1s this spring but has limited experience. Matt Mayberry is listed as a safety in the spring guide, but has seen some reps at middle linebacker this spring – another position where depth is an issue.

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