Bloomington – Ben Chappell is hoping a different offensive approach will produce some different results in the fall.
Now ingrained as the team's No. 1 quarterback with the move of Kellen Lewis to wide receiver, Chappell is spending the spring practice season leading an offense that has added some wrinkles from a year ago. While the no huddle figures to be a staple again in the fall, the Hoosiers won't go exclusively with the traditional spread that they've used for the last four years.
Instead, Indiana will sprinkle in the "Pistol" as well as the traditional quarterback-under-center at times, all in an effort to become more versatile and ultimately more explosive.
"We're trying to change the attitude of the offense and get a little more downhill and come at the defense and put some serious pressure on them," Chappell said.
The "Pistol" is designed to do just that. In the recently-installed formation, the running back will be lined up behind the quarterback and have the ability to go left or right with a head of steam after the handoffs. The offensive line, meanwhile, will find itself in three-point stances more often this year with the new formation. That change should free them up to take the fight to opposing defensive linemen instead of vice versa.
If the new approach does produce better results in the running game, it should in turn free Chappell up to exploit defenses with his play-action skills. IU Coach Bill Lynch said the spread doesn't provide much in terms of play action opportunities, but the "Pistol" will allow Chappell to better utilize those skills.
"I think (play action) is a strong point for me," Chappell said. "I try to work on my ball handling a lot, hiding the ball. I think the play action can be really good for us. But we have to run the ball first and play action off of that."
Chappell says he has confidence that the new approach will work. The Hoosier coaches, meanwhile, have shown through their off-season actions that they have confidence that Chappell can be the man to oversee that improvement.
The 6-3, 235-pound junior showed plenty of signs of that ability last season while completing 80-of-153 passes for 1,001 yards and four touchdowns. While he started only three of IU's 12 games, he played in 11 of IU's 12 contests, highlighted by a 21-of-34, 219-yard effort in IU's upset win over Northwestern.
Chappell played well enough last fall that most observers expected him to battle it out with Lewis for the starting job in the spring. But that battle never materialized once the staff decided to move Lewis to wide receiver this spring and in doing so hand the reins of the offense to Chappell.
"It's nice to know (the staff) has confidence in me," Chappell said. "Now, I have to come out here every day and earn it."
Chappell Likes New Attitude From Offense
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