Bloomington, Ind. - Just how dire was the Hoosiers' running back situation Saturday afternoon?
Coach Bill Lynch was prepping a linebacker to be ready to go if necessary at halftime.
With Demetrius McCray already out with a foot injury and Josiah Sears (concussion) and Marcus Thigpen (ankle) sidelined early on, one of IU's deepest positions this fall was getting dangerously thin. Indiana was down to Bryan Payton and Trea Burgess as the only available running backs, so at halftime Lynch scoured the locker room and warned a linebacker that he have to be ready to jump to the other side of the ball.
Carrington arrived at IU as a running back, but was moved to linebacker a year ago in an effort to give him a chance to play. He's since climbed to No. 2 on the depth chart at outside linebacker and has tallied 15 tackles and one tackle for loss this season.
But desperate times call for desperate measures, and Lynch wanted to at least alert Carrington to the possibility.
"You kind of look around the locker room and say, who's done this before?'" Hey Carrington, come here.
"He had been a running back. We just grabbed him and said, ‘look, if something happens, you have to remember how to block this protection and run this play."
As it turned out, Payton handled the bulk of the running back workload in the second half and added two more touchdowns. Carrington, meanwhile, recorded three assisted tackles and had a pass broken up on defense.
That figures to be as close as Carrington comes to playing running back again. Indiana expects to have Thigpen ready to go this weekend, and Lynch said they're hopeful to have Sears available as well. McCray remains out.
- While the injury news was good with IU's running backs, it's not so good for freshman linebacker Tyler Replogle. The Centerville, Ohio, product suffered an ACL injury and will be undergoing season-ending surgery in approximately two weeks.
It's the second straight week that IU has lost a player for the season with a knee injury. Last week, wide receiver Terrance Turner also suffered a season-ending knee injury, and he's expected to have surgery in approximately one week.
Center Ben Wyss, meanwhile, missed the second half of the Minnesota game with a back injury, but will likely be back on the field for this weekend's match-up with Minnesota.
"Wyss is feeling better," Lynch said. "He won't practice today. This time of year, you have some guys that aren't going to be running around full speed on Tuesday."
- Count James Hardy among those who is surprised by the Hoosiers' 5-1 start.
While others have been caught off guard by how quickly Indiana has gotten to five wins and reached the brink of bowl eligibility, Hardy thought Indiana would have already secured its sixth win.
"We knew before the season started this would happen," Hardy said. "We thought we'd be 6-0. Everyone is surprised, the fans are surprised…we knew what was going to happen, coach Hep knew it was going to happen."
Indiana still needs one more win to have a chance at its first bowl bid since 1993, but Hardy sees more than one more win in the team's future.
"We knew the bowl game would come," Hardy said. "Now we're trying to get to the biggest one possible and surprise even ourselves."
- There's still six games remaining in the regular season, but talk is already heating up about whether or not Bill Lynch will be named the program's head coach beyond this season. While it's a question that many outside the program are asking, it's not something Lynch is concerning himself with at this point. Instead he said he has one thing on his mind.
"Michigan State," Lynch said.
But it's a situation that will be watched closely of the next six weeks. If Lynch does, in fact, lead Indiana to its first bowl game since 1993, will Athletic Director Rick Greenspan reward him with a multi-year contract, or will he instead conduct a national search, one that could result in a new coach and an entirely new coaching staff?
Lynch's focus appears to be squarely on the football team, opting to allow the future to sort itself out.
"I think the important thing is we've all been through this together," Lynch said about the coaching staff. "We all came with Hep, it's the third year of the process, we've been through a lot. But the continuity and consistency and the approach the staff and players have taken has been consistent and that's an important reason why we're sitting where we are now."
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