Bloomington – IU Coach Bill Lynch needed only seven words to sum up Monday afternoon's practice session at the IU practice fields.
"It was good," Lynch said shortly after the Hoosiers wrapped up a 2 ½ hour session Monday afternoon. "And it was hot."
The IU coaching staff is probably better judge of how good Monday's practice was, but there was no disputing the conditions. Less than an hour after a thunderstorm rolled through town the sun returned, accompanied by enough humidity and heat to make the Hoosiers' fourth practice an uncomfortable one for participants and observers alike.
Despite the tough conditions, there were still plenty of noteworthy items Monday. After being in just helmets, jerseys and shorts over the weekend, the team added shoulder pads to the practice gear on Monday. That led to some more competitive situations during both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.
Of note was:
- During 7-on-7 passing drills No. 1 quarterback Ben Chappell was sharp, completing 11-of-14 throws. The top pass catchers during 7-on-7s were Damarlo Belcher, Terrance Turner and Tyler Adetona, each of whom had four receptions from various quarterbacks. Chappell easily got the most work during 7-on-7, although Adam Follett, Dusty Kiel, Teddy Schell and Edward Wright-Baker also got a handful of snaps. Follett remains the team's No. 2, and he was followed in the quarterback sequence by Kiel. Whether that means Kiel is No. 3 on the depth chart is unclear, but the Columbus, Ind., freshman has drawn solid reviews during his opening week of practice.
- at this point in camp, the No. 1 cornerbacks are Donnell Jones and Ray Fisher, while last year's starter Chris Adkins can come in during nickel situations and can play either the safety or corner spot.
- No. 1 defensive tackle Jarrod Smith was sidelined Monday with a minor back ailment that has him listed as day-to-day. In his absence, redshirt freshman Mick Mentzer was the first player in during 11-on-11 to work with the No. 1s, while Larry Black was also rotating his way onto the No. 1 unit as well.
- Last week Lynch said the team would be looking at players on the two-deep as potential contributors on special teams, and the first week of camp has backed that up. Indiana's No. 1 punt coverage team Monday included Tyler Replogle and Deonte Mack, and last week Jammie Kirlew was also working with the No. 1 unit. As far as punt return goes, the Hoosier' have been using Nick Polk and Tandon Doss as their return men.
- Shawn Major Winston has left the program and was replaced on the 105-man fall camp roster by kicker Nick Ford. Ford will get a chance to show what he can do as IU looks for someone to replace Austin Starr at kicker, but the odds on favorite continues to be true freshman Nick Ewald. The Waubonsie Valley H.S. product has shown off a strong leg and has done enough in the opening week to suggest he's the likely choice come the season opener.
- one of the bigger questions about the team is whether or not there is enough depth on the offensive line to withstand an injury or two in the fall. Injuries hit the offensive line hard a year ago, and no amount of shuffling could produce a unit that was solid enough to protect IU's quarterbacks and consistently open holes for the running game. Whether or not that situation has improved will become clearer until the team goes to full pads starting Wednesday. At this point the No. 1 unit is (from left tackle to right tackle) Roger Saffold, Justin Pagan, Will Matte, Pete Saxon and James Brewer. The second unit Monday was Andrew McDonald, Marc Damisch, Chris Ahlfeld, Mike Reiter and Josh Hager. Cody Faulkner and Alex Perry continue to be either limited or sidelined with injuries.
Quotable from Bill Lynch:
(on putting in the offense) "We have really gone pretty fast – I can't remember putting this much offense in this early…There's different ways you can install – you can install a little bit at a time, or you can try to install it all during the acclimation period and then go back and really hammer home the fundamentals of each one. We decided to do the whole theory this year, and it's held up pretty good…we wouldn't have done it offensively if we didn't have so many guys back."
(on going full pads Wednesday) "Once you can start tackling and really playing football that when it really revs up and you just learn a lot more. The drill periods have been really good and what we've done so far has been good. But starting Wednesday is when you can really start making moves on the depth chart."
(any freshmen standing out) "There's a few – I'm a little reluctant to start naming who, but I think overall as a staff we've commented that we've got some kids that can play on both sides of the ball, some freshmen…we felt going into it that it was a good class that we recruited, and they're showing it on the field."
(on Ray Fisher, and whether he'll play like a first-year cornerback or a fourth-year senior) I think he'll play like a senior. He's played a lot of corner in his life, all through high school. Most people recruited him as a corner. We were probably one of the few that recruited him as a receiver…some guys can just play the game and he's one of those guys. He can play. What he did in the spring, and what he did in the summer on his own and 29 practices, I expect him to play like an experienced guy back there."
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