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Spring game provides preview of season storylines


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By Justin Albers



The Hoosiers defeated Indiana 27-24 in Saturday’s spring football game at Memorial Stadium. This year the team names were changed from Cream and Crimson to Indiana and Hoosiers.

To better understand the culmination of spring practice, here are five things we learned from Saturday.

Quarterback battle

Sophomores Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker each had their moments.

Kiel, who ran the first-team offense, made some good throws and looked like a strong starting quarterback candidate at times.

The Columbus East High School (Ind.) grad completed 14-of-27 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kiel threw behind a receiver in the second quarter, resulting in a Lawrence Barnett 25-yard interception return for touchdown.

Wright-Baker looked more accurate and in better shape than he did during last season. He completed 8-of-10 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

The Hoosiers ran more of a pro-style offense when Kiel was in the game by keeping him in the pocket. Wright-Baker rolled out most of the time and ran when he saw an
opening.

Junior Adam Follett was impressive on the game’s final drive. He led the Hoosiers down the field for a game-winning touchdown after wide receiver Damarlo Belcher fumbled. Follett found freshman tight end Leneil Himes out of the backfield for a 12-yard score with just 24 seconds left.

Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said after the game that he knows what direction he’s heading in but wouldn’t elaborate.

Secondary


The secondary looked good at times but also missed several tackles that led to extra yardage.

Playing as both a nickel back and a corner, Greg Heban was probably the most impressive of the defensive backs.

After wideout Kofi Hughes caught a touchdown pass on the opening drive, Heban held him down. He knocked down two consecutive Kiel passes intended for Hughes on the next drive.

“Greg can play any position in the secondary,” co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said. “He’s very sound in what he does. He’s got the athletic ability to be a corner yet he’s physical and tough enough to play safety. He’s going to be on the field a lot for us (next) year.”

The wide receivers got the best of the defensive backs, though, as they combined for three touchdown receptions, including an impressive grab by Belcher over the helmet of his defender.

Wilson’s new offense

Both teams ran an up-tempo, no-huddle offense for most of the afternoon. Smith said afterward the players still need to get a little faster, but he admitted it’s a “work in progress” at this point.

The Hoosiers didn’t go with a five-wide look, but they did use four receivers at times.
Freshmen Cody Evers and Ralston Evans each saw time on the offensive line, and coach Kevin Wilson said he liked what he saw.

“I don’t think they’ve been here long enough to know how to play soft yet,” Wilson said. “They actually play hard. We’re just rewarding those guys for playing hard.
“Ralston is a long way away from what we want, a long way away from what we need, but he’s doing really good.”

Defensive energy

It’s hard to gauge defensive energy in a scrimmage — especially when the defense isn’t allowed to hit the quarterback — but the Hoosiers seemed better as a unit.

The defensive line stopped several running plays short of the line of scrimmage and got the quarterback before he got rid of the ball on multiple occasions.

The coaching staff elected just to let the defense play its base instead of complicating things with specific packages, so the defense will look a lot different in the fall.

Nick Turner

Turner carried the ball seven times for 27 yards, all of which came in the first half with the first team.

But freshman Matt Perez stole the show. After tearing his ACL in practice last season, Perez ran for 46 yards on 12 touches.

“He’s just slow enough to make cuts,” Wilson said. “He’s naturally pretty solid.”

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