Offense Shines in Football Scrimmage

Bloomington – It didn't take long for the IU running game to give Hoosier coach Bill Lynch something to smile about at Saturday's scrimmage. Bryan Payton burst free up the middle for a 40-yard run on the opening play of the nearly 100-play scrimmage on a beautiful, sun-soaked day at Memorial Stadium. Kellen Lewis then...

Bloomington – It didn't take long for the IU running game to give Hoosier coach Bill Lynch something to smile about at Saturday's scrimmage.

Bryan Payton burst free up the middle for a 40-yard run on the opening play of the nearly 100-play scrimmage on a beautiful, sun-soaked day at Memorial Stadium. Kellen Lewis then took a screen pass from Ben Chappell on the ensuing play, broke a tackle, and raced into the end zone for a touchdown to kick start a very good day for the offense.

By the time the nearly two-hour scrimmage concluded, IU's running backs had totaled 208 yards on the ground. Trea Burgess (14 carries, 65 yards) and Payton (9 carries, 63 yards) led the way, while Demetrius McCray (7 carries, 37 yards) and Shawn Major-Winston (5 carries, 40 yards) also had solid afternoons.

That success on the ground freed up some big efforts in the passing game as well. Quarterback Ben Chappell finished 14-of-22 for 231 yards and two touchdowns while utilizing a wide array of targets. Matt Ernest finished with 6 catches for 92 yards, while Tandon Doss (6 catches, 80 yards), Mitchell Evans (3 catches, 56 yards) and Lewis (4 catches, 51 yards) also had their share of highlight moments.

"The offense, I think we did really well," Chappell said. "I felt good out there. The line blocked great, and that always helps. We have to keep them going."

Lynch was also pleased with the offensive line play on Saturday. While Greg Middleton, Fred Jones and Kyle Kozak had sacks and Nick Sliger blew up one run by getting past Cody Faulkner and into the backfield, IU's coach has been cautiously optimistic about what he's seen from an offensive line that needs to be much improved from a year ago.

"I really like how the offensive line is playing," Lynch said. "That was a position that just got beat up so bad last fall, and it certainly set us back.

"If you're not good up front in this league, it's tough."

While it was a good afternoon for the offense, that was to be expected according to Lynch. The IU defense continues to be missing projected starting defensive linemen Jammie Kirlew and Deonte Mack; linebacker Will Patterson; and safeties Nick Polk and Austin Thomas due to off-season surgeries. Converted cornerback Ray Fisher, meanwhile, also missed the scrimmage due to a groin injury.

"The offense has most of the experienced guys out there, and the defense has a lot of really good returning players that aren't practicing because of injuries," Lynch said. "You'd expect the offense to be a little bit ahead."

The good news for Lynch, though, was that the offense was able to take advantage of its personnel edge and produce some big plays. Chappell completed five passes of at least 25 yards, while Payton, McCray, Burgess and Winston all had at least one run of 10 yards.

While the offense generally had its way with the defense, the defensive side of the ball did turn in a couple of big plays. Shortly after the No. 1 offense's opening two-play touchdown march, safety Jerimy Finch stepped in front of a Chappell pass and raced 50-plus yards for a touchdown.

Then, during the situational portion of the scrimmage, linebacker Tyler Replogle separated Lewis from the ball, picked it up, and began racing for what would have been a second defensive touchdown had the officials not called the play dead before Replogle reached the end zone.

While Lewis did have that fumble and also had an issue or two fielding balls in the return game, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver did show off his versatility to the approximately 300 fans that were in attendance. In addition to his four catches for 51 yards, Lewis also lined up at quarterback on a couple of occasions in something akin to the "Wildcat" formation that's been popularized in the NFL.

"He's an outstanding football player that can do so many things on the field," Lynch said. "Defenses are going to have to be aware of where he lines up because of all the things he can do. We're just touching the surface of how well we can use him and where we can use him."

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