Bloomington – With cornerback Chris Phillips and safety Nick Polk already ruled out for Saturday's Big Ten opener against Michigan State due to knee injuries, IU Coach Bill Lynch said safety Austin Thomas is likely to join them on the sidelines.
The Hoosiers' starting strong safety missed last week's 42-20 loss to Ball State with an injury to his lower right leg, and Lynch said Wednesday that he's unlikely to return this weekend.
"I'd love to say he's going to play Saturday, and stranger things have happened," Lynch said. "But watching him right now, I'd doubt he's going to be able to play."
For the first time since the injury, Thomas was not wearing a protective boot at practice Wednesday evening. But Thomas will have to wait at least one more week until his return to the field.
With both of IU's opening-day starters at safety now out, Lynch will have to lean on seniors Joe Kleinsmith and Brandon Mosley and sophomore Jerimy Finch to take on a much bigger role this weekend. Kleinsmith replaced Polk in the starting line-up last week and is certain to start again, while Mosley was getting most of the reps with the No. 1s and Finch was with the No. 2s Wednesday.
All of their contributions will be vital on Saturday. They'll be counted on to step up and help out against Javon Ringer and the Spartan rushing attack, while also providing support against the play-action pass.
"You have to be sound (at safety)," Lynch said. "This kind of running game, your safeties are obviously to be involved in the run, but they also have to be responsible for the play-action pass.
"A lot of that is concentration over the course of 60 minutes. You can get lulled, especially if they're able to control the ball."
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Lynch: Thomas Likely Out for MSU Game
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