Bloomington – Saturday wasn't just another day for the Hoosiers during fall camp.
Not only did it mark the team's first two-a-day since practice started on Monday, but it was also the first day of live hitting as well during the 11-on-11 sessions. The banter between the offensive and defensive units started early, with the two units hurling verbal barbs back and forth when they were stretching at the start of the two-hour morning session.
Another wrinkle was that the IU coaching staff made the 11-on-11 drills competitive as well. During the full squad run session, the objective was for the offense to gain four yards or more. During the passing session, the offense was presented with a variety of third-down situations where the mission was to move the chains.
The end result was some good efforts on both sides of the ball, and a competitive atmosphere as well.
"That adds something to it," said IU offensive coordinator Matt Canada. "If you're not a competitor you wouldn't play this game. Anytime we can make it competitive it's a good drill and a good period for us."
During the full squad run session, the Ben Chappell-led No. 1 offense won the first head-to-head battle with the No. 1 defense, gaining four or more yards on 3-of-5 snaps. But the defense won the final five battles, which included opportunities for the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 units.
The day's practice ended with the 11-on-11 passing session, and the defense came out on top in two of the five five-down sets. Chappell started things off by moving the chains on three of five snaps, while No. 2 Mitchell Evans was then unsuccessful on five straight plays with the No. 2 offense.
Kellen Lewis then took the field and worked with the No. 1s against the No. 1s. With the offense and defense tied at two points apiece, middle linebacker Matt Mayberry sniffed out a screen pass and delivered a big hit on a running back Trea Burgess to give the defense the win.
Next up was Evans, who bounced back from a tough opening series to move the chains on three out of five plays, capped by a nice completion to Tyler Adetona after he was flushed from the pocket by Greg Middleton.
The design of the full squad sessions was intended to give the players a chance to be a little more competitive, and also give the staff a look at how the players would respond to a little additional pressure.
"It's not just running plays – if you just run plays it gets repetitive and a little boring," said IU Coach Bill Lynch. "But the other part of it is kids like to compete and we have to find out who the competitors are. If there's a little pressure on a guy to make a play for his whole team, some step up and make that play and some aren't ready."
Matt Canada on the quarterbacks: "I've been really happy with all of them. Ben has done a great job coming out here putting the ball in the right place, moving the offense well. Kellen has come in and done a good job getting everything going, picking up the tempo. Obviously the plays are basically the same, so he's done a real good job. Mitchell (Evans) is really solid, and Adam Follett has really come in as a freshman and done a good job."
Bill Lynch on the freshmen: "I really like the group. I think each year we've done a better and better job, and this group there are quite a few that are pretty competitive."
Bill Lynch on what he likes about the linebackers: "The linebackers are pretty good. Geno (Johnson), (Matt) Mayberry and (Will) Patterson all were three kids we didn't redshirt. So from the time they got here they were pretty good football players. All three of them have worked really hard. They're stronger, faster. We're playing the same defense, so they react so much faster. The other thing that they are, because of their physical presence, they can be blitzers. If you're going to blitz somebody you better blitz somebody that can make something happen when he goes."
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES FROM SATURDAY
Jerimy Finch practiced with the team Saturday morning, which means he'll have to sit out Saturday afternoon's session since it's only his fifth day of practice. Finch was in full pads for the first time, and recorded an interception after Donnell Jones broke up a Ben Chappell throw and Finch was there for the interception…Austin Starr looks as consistent as ever, and was sending his kickoffs anywhere from five yards deep in the end zone to the goal line…on kickoff returns, Indiana lined up Marcus Thigpen and Brandon Walker Roby as the No. 1 return team, while Demetrius McCray and Donnell Jones were the No. 2s…Lynch wasn't ready to single out any freshmen who will play this fall, but did say some will work their way onto the field. At this point, the four most likely candidates based on the work they've gotten during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions are wide receivers Tandon Doss and Tyler Adetona, running back Darius Willis and cornerback Cortez Smith…Joe Kleinsmith continues to do a little bit of everything for the IU football team, as he continues to get reps with the punters while also working with the second string defense at safety. Kleinsmith had one of the highlight plays Saturday morning, ,making a diving interception of Adam Follett during 7-on-7 work.
FALL CAMP: Saturday Practice Report
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