Answering Your Questions - Part III

With the football season opener now just eight days away, HoosierNation.com's John Decker answers another set of your questions about the team and the upcoming season...

Q: Is Trea Burgess on scholarship? And what kind of speed does he have to go with that size and power?

Joe

A: Trea Burgess is still a walk-on. While he's looked very good in fall camp and has a chance to get on the field this fall, I don't think he'd be in a position to receive a scholarship until he's actually proven he's going to be a regular contributor, whether as a running back or on special teams. As for his speed, I'm speculating here, but I'd classify it as good, not great. At 6'1" and 219 pounds, he's more of a between the tackles, break a tackle sort of runner. With what Indiana is doing at tailback, though, there's a role for that sort of player. His challenge is going to be supplanting Josiah Sears as the team's short-yardage back. Sears is bigger at 6'0" and 247 pounds and will likely get the first crack at the job. But if he proves to be fumble prone – which he has at times in the past – I wouldn't be surprised to see Burgess get a look.

Q: The ISU game may be a chance to get a look at a lot of inexperienced players in a game situation. But, the staff can't play true freshmen without sacrificing a redshirt year. Which true freshmen do you expect to see play in that game?

Jim

A: Even though the opener has a chance to be a lopsided game, that won't impact how many freshmen play. Like you said, once a freshman plays a game they squander their chance to redshirt (unless they suffer a season-ending injury within the first ¼ of the season). With that in mind, the two freshman I suspect are most likely to play are Tyler Replogle and Mitchell Evans. Replogle has emerged as the team's second-string strongside linebacker and will get reps on defense and he'll be on most of the special teams units as well. I wouldn't be surprised to see him be the heir apparent to Adam McClurg at middle linebacker next season, so a year's worth of experience would serve him well.

Evans, meanwhile, has only spent about a week and a half at safety, but has been equally impressive. Injuries have given him some reps with the No. 2 unit, and he's also been a regular on the special teams units. With Nick Polk, Austin Thomas, Joe Kleinsmith and J.T. Owens expected to play safety this fall Evans' defensive reps aren't as guaranteed as Replogle's. But he's looked very good and it wouldn't be surprising to see him slip past someone on the depth chart and be a second-stringer by the time the Big Ten season arrives. He's a talented player, a very good athlete, and he has a very bright future in an IU uniform – most likely at safety.

After that duo, Donnell Jones, Chris Adkins, Jeff Boyd, Jarrell Drane and Matt Ernest would be the only other five that appear to have a shot of playing this year. The depth at wide receiver will likely keep Ernest on the sidelines, but the rash of injuries to IU's wideouts makes anything possible.


Q: Doe's the secondary still have problems and what are the freshman doing at safety and cornerback, will any of them have a chance to help the team this year?

Chris

A: I think the secondary has been the most pleasant surprise of camp. Tracy Porter has played like an All-Big Ten cornerback, Leslie Majors has been one of the most improved players on the roster since last fall, and Chris Phillips has experience as a third cornerback. At safety, I think Nick Polk has the look of a real playmaker at free safety, and Austin Thomas is a big-hitter at strong safety. Throw in Joe Kleinsmith – who has some experience at corner and can help in nickel and dime packages – and it's a group that's looked better than I expected. Considering the abundance of teams that now use three and four wide receiver sets, though, there's still a chance a true freshman could figure into the mix. Right now, I couldn't pick between Adkins and Jones – both have looked solid.

Q: In your answers part II, you say IU could start the season 4-0. I agree. We need two more wins to become bowl eligible. Sport Illustrated is predicting only one Big Ten win for us. Who do you see as the two(or more) Big Ten wins?

A: I don't think IU is at a point where any conference game on the schedule is a guaranteed win. Considering the depth in the conference, it's not so much which games I think are locks in the Big Ten, but which ones are possible wins. In the past couple of years, there have been a handful of games on the league slate that, unfortunately, were pretty much sure-fire losses. When IU was playing Michigan and Ohio State, it didn't match up. Wisconsin was a top-10 team a year ago, and that's an awfully tough game for an up-and-coming but unproven IU team to win.

Now, I think you can look at IU's 2007 schedule and say there are six winnable games in league play. I can't see the Hoosiers winning at Iowa Sept. 29 and it's a real stretch to think it can go into Madison and beat the Badgers, but every other league game is winnable. This year's four home games – Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State and Purdue – went a combined 14-18 in conference games a year ago. IU's other two road contests are at Michigan State and Northwestern, a pair of teams that went a combined 3-13 in the conference a year ago.

If the Hoosiers can win all four of their non-conference games, that's six chances to win two games, and in my opinion, they can get that done.


Q: What's the situation with tickets sales? Has anything official been stated in terms of numbers?

Philip

A: There's been nothing official on ticket sales, although I haven't heard anything to suggest they are ahead of where sales were a year ago. That's a disappointment, considering how close this team came to a bowl game a year ago and the off-season passing of Coach Terry Hoeppner. One would think that those two facts would produce some sort of surge of support in the program, but I don't think there's any proof that will be the case Sept. 1 against Indiana State.

Editor's Note: Keep Your Questions Coming! I'll continue to answer your questions as quickly as they come in! So feel free to E-Mail me your questions and I'll answer them on a regular basis!!

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