NOTEBOOK: Football Seeks Injury Answers

Bloomington - Bloomington – Is Indiana's rash of injuries something other than bad luck? Injuries is part of the game, and every team suffers its share of setbacks during the course of a 12-game season. But the quantity of issues that Indiana has faced this season is shocking, and to some troubling...

Bloomington – Is Indiana's rash of injuries something other than bad luck?

Injuries is part of the game, and every team suffers its share of setbacks during the course of a 12-game season. But the quantity of issues that Indiana has faced this season is shocking, and to some troubling.

Players who have missed at least one game this season include quarterback Kellen Lewis; running backs Marcus Thigpen and Bryan Payton; offensive linemen Rodger Saffold, Pete Saxon, Alex Perry, Cody Faulkner, Andrew McDonald, Dennis Zeigler; wide receivers Andrew Means, Tandon Doss and Ray Fisher; tight end Brian Zematis; defensive tackle Deonte Mack; cornerback Chris Phillips; and safeties Nick Polk, Austin Thomas and Jerimy Finch.

The injuries have been so abundant that some have questioned whether there's something IU is either doing or not doing that has contributed to the problems. IU Coach Bill Lynch is among those who is looking at that, but to date he doesn't see any common denominators.

"There isn't any one single thing," Lynch said. "We've had guys get hurt in practice, we've had guys hurt in games. We've had guys hurt on different surfaces, whether it's turf or on grass…I think you evaluate your practice, all the things that go in to the work that you do and see if there's a common denominator, but right now we don't see it."

**

Indiana will likely be without both linebacker Will Patterson (knee) and cornerback Richard Council (ankle) this weekend against Penn State. But there are a couple of others on the depth chart who are also up in the air for the game.

Running back Zach Davis-Walker injured his thumb against Wisconsin and is scheduled to undergo an MRI this week. Offensive linemen Pete Saxon and Mike Reiter, meanwhile, are both listed as day-to-day. Saxon suffered a concussion during pre-game warm-ups on Saturday and Reiter is dealing with an abdominal injury.

There are some pieces of good news on the injury front. Quarterback Ben Chappell appears to be likely to be cleared to play this weekend, and Lynch said both Kellen Lewis and Mitchell Evans are progressing. Lewis is dealing with a high ankle sprain, while Lewis has a sciatic nerve issue that kept him out of practice last week.

The Hoosiers are also hopeful that left tackle Rodger Saffold will be back on the field this weekend after a two-week absence. If Saffold is able to play, Lynch said IU would likely start freshman Justin Pagan at left guard.

**

The Hoosiers' depth at safety has become so dire that the staff has moved wide receiver Collin Taylor to free safety for the season's final two weeks, and he's listed as the No. 2 free safety behind Joe Kleinsmith.

The 6-0, 196-pound Taylor has been a player who had performed very well during spring drills and scrimmages during the last several years, often benefiting from the chance to play due to either injuries or the fact IU has been playing with a split-squad format. But his opportunities in games have been few and far between, generally limited to special teams.

Now, he might get a chance to play some snaps on the other side of the ball.

"We're looking for a good athlete who's really committed to Indiana football, and Collin is one of those guys," Ly nch said. "He's a walk-on, but he goes at it in the weight room, in practice. He's a good wideout, we just have a lot of wideouts…we thought he was the natural guy. He's one of those guys (who says) ‘anything I can do to get on the field.'"

Another new name on IU's defensive depth chart is redshirt freshman walk-on Andrew LeGrone, who is now backing up Chris Adkins at one of the cornerback spots. LeGrone moved into the two-deep after last week's injury to Richard Council.

**

"Fun" isn't a word that most would associate with having to go play Penn State in front of 110,000 fans in Happy Valley, but that's the message Lynch is giving to his team this week.

Indiana will be short-handed due to injuries and Penn State will probably be short-tempered after having its perfect season derailed in Iowa City last weekend. But where most would see impending disaster, Lynch sees an opportunity.

"It's going to be fun - I think you have to take that approach whether you're going there, you're going to the Horseshoe in Columbus or the Big House in Michigan," Lynch said.

This will mark the first time IU has played at Penn State since 2003, when the Lions handed the Hoosiers a 52-7 thumping. No one on the IU roster has ever traveled or played at Penn State.

"People are wondering how good are they? They're really good," Lynch said. "We're in a situation where we're going to load up and take this as a great challenge…the opportunity to play at Penn State, play in that environment against this football team, I think our guys are going to be excited for that opportunity. You don't get to do that very often."

Keep up with the Hoosiers for less than $10 per month!! Sign up for a 7-day Free Trial to HoosierNation.com to what you've been missing. You'll get recruiting updates, recruit videos, expert commentary, breaking news - everything you need from HoosierNation.com!! Try it for seven days...FOR FREE!!

Peegs.com Top Stories