Bloomington – Seven days are down and eight practices are in the books for the IU football team this fall. After week one, we take a look back at what and who has stood out at the IU practice fields…
10 Players who Stood Out in Week One:
- Ben Chappell, QB – Chappell was handed the No. 1 job in the spring when Kellen Lewis was suspended, but now that Lewis has returned Chappell has held his own in this battle for the No. 1 job. Lewis is expected to eventually recapture his starting job, but Chappell has performed so well that it's not out of the question that the staff would try to figure out a way to get him some snaps this season.
- Kellen Lewis, QB – Lewis has been getting up to speed with the Hoosiers' new no huddle attack, and the junior admitted he was a bit rusty at the start of the week. But he's rounded back into shape as the week has gone along, and his playmaking ability when faced with pressure is still there.
- Rodger Saffold, OT – The third-year starting left tackle is bigger than he was a year ago, now tipping the scales at more than 300 pounds. He's every bit as athletic as he was, and appears poised to be the leader of an offensive line that will have five starters from the "Seven Blocks of Limestone" that IU brought in in 2006.
- Tandon Doss, WR – This freshman from Indianapolis has quickly shown himself to be ready to play right away. There's a need for an additional playmaker on the outside who can complement Terrance Turner and Andrew Means, and Doss appears to be the guy who could fill that void. He has great size and tremendous hands and is ready to help immediately.
- Max Dedmond, TE – It's been years since the Hoosiers had a legitimate playmaker at tight end, but Dedmond looks like that type of player. The redshirt freshman from Evansville has great hands and great size, and he's going to create headaches for defenses when he lines up this fall. He'll be a move-the-chains type of tight end, but he's also capable of making big plays as well. He's going to be a weapon.
- Chris Phillips, CB – The fifth-year senior is going to be a leader of the defense as far as his playmaking as well as with his high-energy approach. He has big shoes to fill with the loss of Tracy Porter, but Phillips has a nose for the ball and is an extremely physical corner as well who will provide plenty of support against the run. Expect to see him with a handful of interceptions this season and also creating some fumbles with his ability to strip ball carriers as well.
- Richard Council, CB – I'll qualify this by saying that I haven't focused all of my attention on the cornerbacks this fall, but from the drills and full squad work that I've seen, this sophomore has put himself in position to possibly be the other starting cornerback. He had a couple of interceptions last week and has the best size of the corners competing for the job.
- Chris Hagerup, P – After being extremely erratic last fall and spring, Hagerup has shown a level of consistency that was missing in the past. The redshirt freshman has been getting the ball off quicker, he's showing off the kind of big leg that the staff always knew he had, and he has eliminated many of the bad kicks that plagued him in the past. He's still a work in progress, but Hagerup has the staff feeling a lot better about the punting situation now than they did in the spring.
Matt Mayberry, MLB – It's going to be interesting to see how Mayberry handles being the man in the middle of the IU defense on a full-time basis, but it's clear the Hoosiers have the sort of athletic, physical playmaker that they haven't had there in some time. Mayberry can go chase down ball carriers from behind and relishes the chance to deliver a bit hit to someone who ventures into his area. There's a lot being put on Mayberry's shoulders, but he clearly has the physical tools to be a difference maker on defense.
Ryan Marando, DE – This senior gets a little bit overlooked because he's behind Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew, but he continues to provide a third legitimate pass rushing threat off the edge when he's on the field, and he's going to be a mainstay of the special teams units as well. He's not going to grab the headlines, but players like Marando and Joe Kleinsmith are going to be some of the "glue" guys for this team.
Five Week Two Topics:
- Will Jerimy Finch hear back on his appeal? IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan said last week that the school should hear back from the NCAA on its hardship appeal on Jerimy Finch in 10 days, putting things toward the end of this week. Finch has done enough with the second string and on special teams to suggest the IU staff thinks he might be able to play this year.
- What short of shuffling will we see on the two deep? The first and second-strings remained intact for the entire first week, which came as no surprise as the team worked through the five-day acclimation period and the staff got familiar with some of the new faces on the team. But week two could reveal some more movement now that two-a-days have started, the team is in full pads, and they're hitting. Situations to watch include cornerback, offensive line, running back and quarterback.
- Will the quarterback rotation remain the same? During the first week Ben Chappell was the first man on the field with the 1s, followed by Mitchell Evans with the 2s and then Kellen Lewis returned with the 1s. At some point the staff will look to get more reps with the 1s for the starter, which will mostly likely be Lewis. It might not come today, but eventually someone is going to need to start getting the majority of the snaps with the No. 1 unit.
- How's the offensive line shaping up? Week two provides a much better opportunity to gauge the progress of the offensive line since there's live hitting and the team is in pads. It will be particularly interesting to see if the front five can win the battle in the trenches during 11-on-11 running drills, or if it's the defense that carries the day. This is a group that needs to begin to gel this week as IU looks to be a better between the tackles running team than it was a year ago.
- Can everyone stay healthy? Coaches look to balance getting a team ready for the season with keeping them healthy, and the Hoosier staff is no different. A year ago, Indiana had Greg Brown, James Hardy and Tracy Porter all go down with injuries on the same day in fall camp, so there's always a degree of trepidation once you reach this point in camp. IU has more depth than in years past so its better able to absorb so ailments, but there's a core of players such as Greg Brown, Chris Phillips, Kellen Lewis, Ray Fisher, etc., that Indiana doesn't want to be without for any extended period of time.
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