Bloomington – Fifteen Indiana spring football practices boiled down to one game Saturday night in the annual Cream and Crimson Spring Game.
That game, in turn, boiled down to one quarter. Missed the first three quarters? Not to worry, as the teams headed into the fourth quarter knotted 10-10.
That quarter, meanwhile, boiled down to one game-changing play. Re-inserted into the game in the fourth quarter, No. 1 quarterback Ben Chappell hoisted a 21-yard touchdown strike to Charles Love to give the Crimson the go-ahead and ultimately decisively score in its 17-10 win.
"I had a corner route and Ben threw it outside and I made the adjustment and caught the touchdown," Love said. "It was a good win."
Truth be told, that play may have come down to one call. With the quarterbacks dressed in orange jerseys and off limits for defensive players, officials were quick to whistle plays dead when a defender had a quarterback within his grasp. But Chappell managed to back pedal away from pressure on the winning play and dropped the ball in over the back of a Hoosier defensive back to Love.
IU Coach Bill Lynch said he didn't have a good view of the play and couldn't offer much of an opinion about whether or not Chappell could have been ruled down, but the quarterback said he heard from some that they weren't so sure his touchdown should have counted.
"I saw a guy come free off the line and I avoided him I guess," Chappell said. "I saw Charles Love running free and threw it up to him."
The touchdown capped not only the win, but a solid evening of work for Chappell in front of an estimated crowd of 5,000. Chappell completed 15-of-23 passes for 142 yards and the one score.
Love, meanwhile, caught five passes for 46 yards. A former wide receiver who has moved to tight end, Love sat out the 2008 season as a redshirt and then the 2009 season with an injury, but is now making the case that he belongs on the field in the fall.
"He's had a great spring - he might be the most improved guy on the entire offense," Chappell said. "He's really come into his own. That position fits him perfectly. He's really improved his blocking. I'm really excited for him."
While Chappell and Love turned in solid evenings of work, the rest of the offense had its share of struggles. Freshmen quarterbacks Dusty Kiel and Ed Wright-Baker split the reps with the Cream squad and both had some struggles. Kiel completed just 4-of-10 throws for 29 yards and was both intercepted and sacked twice. Wright-Baker didn't turn the ball over, but he was only 8-of-20 for 54 yards and was sacked two times.
Some mixed results through the air, though, paled in comparison to Indiana's inability to establish the running game. The two teams combined to net 37 rushing yards, with 30 of that coming on one Antonio Banks third-quarter run. The Hoosiers were without starter Darius Willis, and starting right tackle James Brewer had to leave the game early with an injury. Brewer was one of three prominent players to depart injured (along with Duwyce Wilson and Jerimy Finch) and his absence contributed to IU's inability to establish much on the ground.
"Anytime you split the team up like that it's going to be a little bit sloppy because you have so many guys playing out of position," Lynch said. "Both offensive lines after (James) Brewer got hurt early…so anytime you get in that type of situation it's not going to be as clean."
The special teams was also a bit suspect. The game's first touchdown came as a result of a mishandled snap by back-up punter Adam Pines, leading to a 38-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Javon Cornley.
Despite those issues, there were also some positives from some new faces. Playing out of the Hoosiers' new 3-4 defense, outside linebacker Kevin Bush had six tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Junior college defensive back Lenyatta Kiles added six tackles, two interceptions and two passes broken up, and true freshman running back Antonio Banks finished with a team-high 49 rushing yards.
Cream – Burgess 12-29, Covington 5-3, Wright-Baker 4-(-4), Pines 1-(-7), Kiel 2-(-8), Creevey 2-(-13). Crimson – Banks 11-49, Turner 10-12, Chappell 1-0, Schell 3-(-24).
Cream- Wright Baker 20-8-0 54, Kiel 10-4-2 29, Creevey 8-3-0 33. Crimson – Chappell 23-15-0 142, Schell 11-8-0 79, Follett 5-2-2 19.
Cream – Doss 6-67, Adetona 3-26, Martin 2-18, Dedmond 2-9, Burgess 2-(-4). Crimson – Wilson 5-65, Muhammad 5-52, Love 5-46, Chester 5-37, Turner 2-13, Lanning 1-12, Dahlstrom 1-9, Banks 1-6.
Love Is the Difference in Spring Game Win
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