Bloomington – Kellen Lewis still might be the third quarterback called upon during full team and 7-on-7 drills, but he's clearly running neck-and-neck with Ben Chappell for the No. 1 spot on the Hoosiers' depth chart at quarterback.
Chappell is still the first quarterback on the field with the No. 1 unit, followed by sophomore Mitchell Evans with the No. 2s. Lewis has been the next man up for IU Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, but he's not running the third string. Instead, Lewis goes out with the No. 1 offensive unit as well so he gets familiar with some new receivers, a new center, and a couple of new offensive linemen.
The Hoosiers' 6'1", 185-pound junior continues to get himself back up to speed, and performed well Wednesday as the team went to shoulder pads for the first time this fall. During a late 7-on-7 passing drill Lewis was 7-on-8, including a big gainer to Ray Fisher over the middle. During the day's final full team passing drill he was 3-of-4 despite being consistently flushed out of the pocket due to a heavy pass rush from the No. 1 defensive line.
Chappell was equally effective with the No. 1 unit. The 6'3", 232-pound sophomore completed 6-of-7 throws during 7-on-7s and was then 3-of-5 during 11-on-11 work at the end of practice.
Among the other quarterbacks, Evans was 4-on-8 in 7-on-7, including a big gainer to freshman Tyler Adetona. Teddy Schell – who's been working with the No. 3s – was 3-on-4, with his only incompletion being a nicely thrown ball down the sideline where freshman Demarlo Belcher nearly made an acrobatic leaping catch against tight coverage from fellow frosh Cortez Smith.
While the quarterbacks had their moments during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, the members of the secondary had some big moments as well, particularly during 1-on-1 passing drills. Starters Austin Thomas and Chris Phillips both had interceptions, while second string safety Brandon Mosley had a nice strip of Matt Ernest after a completion.
IU tight end coach Kyle Conner continues to work out with his stable of position players, but there's one noticeable absence – Max Dedmond.
The talented 6'5", 240-pound Evansville native hasn't been away from practice, but he's instead working with the wide receivers. It's a clear indication that 6'5", 255-pound junior Troy Wagner will probably be the choice in running situations, but Dedmond will be an oft-used player when IU looks to put the ball in the air.
"Dedmond gives us a little there," IU Coach Bill Lynch said. "He's a tight end, but he lines up as a flex guy or split out quite a bit."
Indiana has played with one of the smallest offensive lines in the Big Ten in recent years, but this year's starting five figures to be just about as big as any front five in the conference.
In Roger Saffold (6-5, 306), Pete Saxon (6-6, 310), Alex Perry (6-7, 300), Cody Faulkner (6-5, 315) and Mike Stark (6-7, 300), IU offensive line coach Bobby Johnson has a front five that averages 6-6 and 306 pounds. That's a marked improvement size-wise from a year ago, when the starters averaged a generous 6-3 and 290 pounds.
While the front five now has five players who all stand at least 6-5 and weight at least 300 pounds, Indiana's second unit is even bigger. The biggest reason for that is the right side of the second unit, where right guard Dennis Zeigler and right tackle James Brewer combine to weight 700 pounds and stand 6'7" and 6'8", respectively.
Other Notes…I continue to be extremely impressed with Tandon Doss. The freshman from Ben Davis H.S. got some work with the No. 2s Wednesday, and runs good routes and catches everything in his vicinity…the hitting was a little crisper Wednesday with the addition of shoulder pads, and one of the biggest pops came courtesy third-string middle linebacker Ian Reeves, who stood up Bryan Payton during full team running drills…situation remains the same with the cornerbacks, where DB coach Joe Palcic continues to rotate players through. Adrian Burks and Phillips worked with the No. 1s today…for those who are wondering how things are shaping up on the depth chart, no significant changes should come until next week after a couple of days in pads. For the time being, the starting defensive line consists of Greg Middleton, Deonte Mack, Greg Brown and Jammie Kirlew. They are backed up by Fred Jones, Keith Burrus, Kevin Burrus and Ryan Marando…at linebacker, Will Patterson, Matt Mayberry and Geno Johnson will be the starters, and they're backed up by Justin Carrington, Tyler Replogle and Darius Johnson…in the secondary, Austin Thomas and Nick Polk are the starting safeties, and they're backed up by Joe Kleinsmith and Brandon Mosley.
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