FB NOTEBOOK: No Position Shake-ups Yet

Bloomington - Despite a big afternoon last weekend from a Bryan Payton and a tough day for Chris Hagerup, IU Coach Bill Lynch doesn't anticipate any changes of personnel for Saturday's match-up with Murray State. A look at that subject and more in our football notebook...

Bloomington – Let's not put James Hardy and Demarlo Belcher in the same sentence just yet.

Oops…I just did.

Rarely will so much be made about one five-yard reception in an 18-point victory, but the 6'5", 204-pound Ft. Wayne freshman sure looked like the Hoosiers' recently departed record-holder in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns when he elevated over a Western Kentucky corner to pull down his third-quarter touchdown pass Saturday.

While the comparisons might be a bit premature considering Hardy caught 36 touchdowns in 36 career games and Belcher has one, fellow Hoosier wideout Andrew Means can understand why many see a resemblance.

"Demarlo has that big, athletic frame just like James did," Means said. "The sky is the limit for him. He's going to develop into a great player."

A late addition to the Hoosiers' 2008 recruiting class, Belcher has surprised everyone by being the only true freshman to play thus far. A shoulder injury to Tandon Doss moved Belcher up the depth chart and then onto the field in the opener, and he figures to continue to see more action in the coming weeks.

The similarities between Hardy and Belcher are numerous. Both are of similar stature and from Ft. Wayne. Basketball was also the first love of each one, but they realized late in their high school careers that football could actually be their calling.

"I wouldn't comare him to (Hardy) now – he's still a freshman, and you can't compare a guy to James Hardy yet especially with the career he had," Means said. "Wait and see how he turns out. But I think he has the chance to be just like James."


When senior linebacker Geno Johnson watched the Hoosiers' on film after Saturday's game he saw a different defense from what he's been used to in the last couple of seasons.

One thing that jumped out to Johnson was the defense's overall speed. The addition of players such as Deonte Mack and Matt Mayberry to the starting lineup plus a commitment to off-season workouts has Johnson seeing a group of 11 defenders that are getting where they need to go in a hurry.

"I think we're a totally different defense from what we were," Johnson said. "We're a lot faster, everyone runs to the ball, I feel like everyone is putting in that effort to come one of the top defenses in the country."

It's more than speed, though, that stands out. The Hoosiers finally have the sort of size that enables them to match-up with their Big Ten counterparts. Instead of being forced to rely on speed to compensate for a lack of size, Indiana's defense has become much more stout this fall, particularly at linebacker and at cornerback.

The 6'2", 230-pounder Johnson knows as well as anyone what it's like to play undersized. The Bartow, Fla., product played as a true freshman at only 200 pounds, and he's since added 30 pounds to his frame.

"I was somewhat prepared, but coming in as a 200-pound freshman, I really wasn't prepared for what I was going into as far as the bigger linemen that I wasn't used to facing," Johnson said. "As a 200-pound freshman, it's hard."


If there's one area where Bill Lynch is hoping to get a much better performance, it's most likely the punting game.

Freshman Chris Hagerup had a less-than-memorable debut, mishandling one snap to go along with a couple of sub-par punts in his four trips onto the field last Saturday. Second-string punter Joe Kleinsmith was given a punt late and got off a 50-yarder, but Lynch said there's no controversy about who the team's No. 1 punter is entering week two.

"(Hagerup) had a couple of rough plays, and at the end we decided let's give Kleinsmith a kick at it too, more so than ‘we have to take Chris out,'" Lynch said. "It was, ‘let's give Joe one with a rush coming at him,' knowing full well that (Hagerup) would be back to being the No. 1 punter, which he was yesterday and he will be today."

There's no questioning Hagerup's physical abilities, and Lynch is hoping that a good week of practice will give him confidence going into this weekend's game against Murray State

"So much of the game is mental," Lynch said. "There's mental training to go along with physical training. That's something Chris will learn as he goes along."


Don't expect much of a shake-up with the Hoosiers' running back rotation this weekend.

In the season opener Marcus Thigpen, Bryan Payton and Demetrius McCray had virtually identical numbers of carries, but the productively wasn't a mirror image. Payton ran for 57 yards on nine carries, including a 34-yard third-quarter scamper that set up a touchdown. McCray, meanwhile, had 30 yards on eight carries, while Thigpen was limited to only 18 yards on eight attempts.

Payton's hard-charging approach has some pushing for him to handle a larger share of the workload, but Lynch said he anticipates sticking with the rotation.

"It wasn't by design that (the carries) would be that close, but it just turned out to be that way," Lynch said. "I think they all have something to give us, they all had some good plays. I would think it would be pretty similar this week."

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