During practices this week, Lewis wore a protective gray immobilizing boot around his right ankle, nursing what IU coach Bill Lynch called a high-ankle sprain.
“(We) went through halftime, got it re-taped and all that, and we thought that it would loosen up and we’d get him going in the second half, and it never loosened up," Lynch said of Lewis' injury sustained against Iowa. “Some athletes bounce back pretty quickly. He really hasn’t been hurt much, so we haven’t really been through this in terms of how quickly he can bounce back. Certainly, we’re hopeful that a guy like that can bounce back quicker than our 300-pound guys, just because of his body type.”
With or without their second-team All-Big Ten quarterback, things were a bit more intense for the Hoosiers at practice this week, with coaches adopting a more hard-nosed approach to discipline for mistakes.
Though Lewis wasn’t in pads during the week, he did partake in team’s punishments. The up-downs and push-ups given out by Lynch were, according to wide receiver Andrew Means, physical reminders for the Hoosiers to stay mentally sharp.
“It’s tough out here, man,” he said.
Lynch said in his weekly press conference to the media that the team’s lack of execution on both sides of the ball has played a big part in IU’s recent downfall, something Means agreed with.
“The playmakers on the team, whether it be an offensive lineman, the quarterback, a running back, on defense or whatever,” Means said. “We just got to step up and make the play when we are called on to make the play. Whether it’s getting that interception, making that catch, blocking that guy so we can throw that deep pass – everyone just needs to step up and do their job.”
The Hoosiers have scored a total of 16 points in their last two games, while they have allowed over 40 points in three of their last four. Much of their defensive troubles have stemmed from a recent inability to stop the run.
Against Iowa last week, the Hoosiers allowed 227 net rushing yards and four scores on the ground.
“We have got to keep our proverbial cap in the gap you are supposed to be in to stop the running game,” Lynch said. “If one guy gets out of his gap, then there is a dent. And when there is a dent against an Iowa, there’s five yards. If you keep your hat in the gap, then it’s two yards and you get them in third-and-six, and you have a chance.”
Keeping on assignments will be all the more crucial this weekend when the Hoosiers’ stare across the line of scrimmage at Illini signal-caller Juice Williams.
Williams, like Lewis, is an effective mobile quarterback who has led Illinois to an average of 33 points per game.
Williams has 445 rushing yards and 1,677 passing yards, a total that slots him in the top five nationally, a total only 271 yards shy of IU’s total offense.
Means said it will take a full team effort to put down Williams and the Illini, something the receiver said IU has not had yet this year.
“We have never really had a game where every position has clicked and been together all on the same page,” Means said. “We just need to go out there and all be on the same page.”
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