Wednesday Practice News, Notes and Quotes

Quotes on a trio of freshmen defenders who have turned some heads; a look at news on how things are shaping up in the two-deep; stats from 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 passing drills; and much more...

Bloomington, Ind. – News, notes and quotes from Wednesday's IU football practice, which was held in mid-90 degree temperatures at the IU practice fields.

- Projected starting free safety Nick Polk continues to nurse a sore hamstring, and he's officially listed as day-to-day. In his place, Joe Kleinsmith has been working with the No. 1 unit at free safety, flanking strong safety Austin Thomas

- for a good portion of practice Wednesday, the offensive line practiced inside the Mellencamp Pavilion. While the initial thought was that the staff moved them inside because of the heat on the field, head coach Bill Lynch said that wasn't the case.

"Really the linemen going inside is a feature of having the new turf in Mellencamp, and they have a tendency to tear up the field," Lynch said. "They probably like being out of the sun, but the real reason is because of the surface."

- the coaching staff wasn't overly pleased with the offense's work during 11-on-11 running drills, but things went much better later in practice with 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 passing drills. During 7-on-7s, quarterback Kellen Lewis completed 9-of-10 passes, while Ben Chappell was 9-of-11. Lewis' only incompletion was on a Tracy Porter interception that he returned for a touchdown. Chappell's only two incompletions, meanwhile, came on drops by Chris Banks and Matt Ernest.

- speaking of Ernest, despite the 7-on-7 drop, he is turning some heads among the coaching staff. After practice, wide receivers coach Billy Lynch said Ernest has been exactly what they had hoped they were getting when they recruited him out of Crown Point H.S. Lynch compared him to Nick Polk in some of his attributes. Ernest reported to camp at 170 pounds and has actually gained five pounds since he arrived, so he's expected to be a 190-pound wideout eventually. Lynch did say the hope is that Ernest can be redshirted this year to save his four years of eligibility.

- kickoff return once again figures to be a weapon for IU this fall, with All-America kick returner Marcus Thigpen back to field kicks once again. On Wednesday, Thigpen was lined up with another speedster – Leslie Majors – on the Hoosiers' No. 1 kickoff return unit.

- after being at practice the first two days, Jane Hoeppner wasn't on the sidelines on Wednesday. Among the on-lookers were IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan and former IU Coach Bill Mallory.

- one of the big changes this year is going to be on the kickoff, as teams are being moved back to the 30-yard line. Austin Starr will once again handle kickoff duties this year, and during a handful of attempts from the 30 he was consistently getting the ball inside the five-yard line.

- the real question mark on special teams continues to be the punting job, which is a battle between fifth-year senior Michael Hines and freshman Chris Hagerup. At this point, Hines has been much more consistent with his kicks and appears to have a solid lead on Hagerup for the right to replace Tyson Beattie as the team's punter.

- Assistant Coach Billy Lynch on overcoming the weather during fall camp: "The message has been we have to learn to bring it every single day. That's what's on the board in there, one at a time. Every single day is a new day and we have to get better every day. These days are good for us and our team. We have talent, depth and guys that have played. But to take the next step, fighting through fatigue and fighting through those things when we hit bumps on the road in the season - days like this are good for us in that regard. We just have to learn to focus and fight through it."

- the battle for one of the starting defensive end positions (opposite Jammie Kirlew) appears to be status quo. Brian Faires, Fabienne Boone and Greg Middleton all had reps with the No. 1 defense Wednesday.

- there could be an opportunity for a true freshman to make an impact in the secondary or at linebacker. The current No. 2s at linebacker are Matt Mayberry on the inside along with outside backers Jerry Williams and Justin Carrington. The No. 3s appeared to be a trio of freshmen – Tyler Replogle in the middle along with Ian Reeves and Dane Conwell.

- at cornerback, both Donnell Jones and Chris Adkins got some reps during 11-on-11s, and are currently on the No. 3 unit. The No. 2 unit had Chris Phillips along with Richard Council today. Lynch on the freshman duo: "We met as a staff today and talked about all the kids and both their names came up. I know Billy (Lynch), as receivers coach, has noticed them. They are bigger corners. They are both probably 190, 195-pound guys. When you can get that size of guys who can run, that's what you want."


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