Q: Just wondering how the punting game is coming along. I followed Hagerup a little in HS, and just wondering if he is growing through the struggles he had this spring.
A: Chris struggled in the spring, and the thought was that it was due in part because of the weather and in part because of some technique changes they made with his kicking. But his struggles have, in large part, continued this fall. Hagerup is one of only two punters on the roster along with fifth-year senior Michael Hines and it appears Hines has taken a commanding lead in the battle to be the starter. Hines has, quite honestly, shown off a stronger leg and more importantly, has been much more consistent on a daily basis.
Q: John: Read where Kevin Burrus was with the 1's quite a bit on Saturday at DT. Is Boyd getting a look as well?
A: Kevin was working quite a bit with the 1s on Saturday, but Joe Kremer has been back with the No. 1s in the practices I've been to since. With Greg Brown sidelined, Emile Bass has now been with the 1s at the three-technique position. As for Boyd, he has been getting a look – his problem is going to be some pretty solid depth at defensive tackle with the Burrus brothers, Brown, Bass and Kremer. But Boyd looks like he's physically up to the challenge of playing early on, and he's someone the staff has talked about as being someone who has a chance to play. He'd certainly be among the 5-6 freshmen who I'd think have a chance to play in his true freshman season.
Q: Do you think any freshmen will play this year, and at what position?
A: I think the chance for freshmen is going to come on defense. The only offensive player who would be a possibility might be wide receiver Matt Ernest, but IU's depth at the position would make it pretty unlikely he'd play this year. So on the defensive side, I think linebacker Tyler Replogle is the most likely to play. He's worked in with the No. 2s, could be a contributor on special teams, and is versatile enough to play any of the linebacker spots. After him, someone could emerge in the secondary as well as on the defensive line. Players who have gotten some reps with the 2s include safety/cornerback Chris Adkins, safety Jarrell Drane, cornerback Donnell Jones (although his ankle injury will set him back a little) and defensive tackle Jeff Boyd. What it boils down to isn't so much who has looked really good – a lot of the freshmen look impressive physically and have done some good things in practice – but where there's a need in terms of depth. Cornerback and linebacker are the spots that have the biggest need in that regard.
Q: I want to know if the offense "practices" scramble plays for Kellen Lewis. It is obvious that a big part of his game is being able to get outside the pocket and run with the ball. Does he ever do this in practice or do they only focus on drop back passes?
A: The majority of the time is spent with drop-back passes – it's doesn't make a great deal of sense to have designed scrambles during a 7-on-7 passing drill where there aren't any defensive linemen, by way of example. But there are some instances where Lewis will have a designed scramble in 11-on-11 drills, and he will take off on his own if there's nothing available downfield as well.
Q: John, when the players put the pads on, could you see how the freshman LBs are doing. Also can you see where and how Price is doing.
A: It's pretty clear Tyler Replogle has separated himself at this point and is tops among the freshmen linebackers. He started off at middle linebacker but has moved to strongside, where he's on the No. 1 unit. As for the other freshmen, Darius Johnson appears to be at middle linebacker while Ian Reeves and Dane Conwell are at outside linebacker, and the trio make up the No. 3 unit. We'll have to wait and see if one of them can also surface as a possibility to play this year. At this point in camp, I'd think Replogle will be the only one. But that could change. As for Price, he's been an important player on the Hoosier special teams and you'll see him on those units. As for his play at defensive end, he hasn't done anything in camp to suggest he's going to be much of a factor. It appears Brian Faires, Jammie Kirlew, Greg Middleton and Ryan Marando, among others, are more likely to play based on who's been with the No. 1 and No. 2 units.
Q: Overall, what are your initial impression of the kids Coach Hep was responsible for bringing in for this year prior to his passing? Improvement? Not as good? Or same -o , same-o?
A: Physically, this is an impressive group. Jarrell Drane is a tall, rangy, athletic safety who's a big hitter. The linebackers are already in the 220-230 pound range. Josh Hager is huge – probably in the 6-7 or even 6-8 range. Fred Jones is a big defensive end who looks bigger than the 6-4 he's listed at on the IU website. Mitchell Evans is a great athlete who's been impressive at both quarterback and safety. Chris Adkins is a tall cornerback/safety who looks physically capable of playing early on. I'm sure I'm missing a couple, but I've definitely noticed a much more impressive group coming in, physically, in recent years.
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