Safety's status questionable for Ball State game
Three days remain before the IU football team takes on its first real test of the season. So at practice Tuesday, all was back to normal after the team’s bye week, except for one noticeable absence.
There was no Austin Thomas.
Thomas, a junior safety known for his big hits, is questionable when the Hoosiers take on Ball State on Saturday. During his weekly press conference, IU coach Bill Lynch said he remains unsure as to whether Thomas will play against the Cardinals.
Lynch said Thomas hurt his lower leg at practice last week.
With the Woodstock, Ga., native possibly out, it could open the door for sophomore safety Jerimy Finch to see a little more of the field.
Finch, a former four-star recruit who played at Florida last year, has played
mostly in nickel packages because of his versatility. With the Gators, Finch played linebacker though he came out of high school in Indianapolis as a safety.
Lynch did not announce who will occupy the second safety position – junior Nick Polk holds down the other spot. Senior Joe Kleinsmith is another likely candidate.
Kleinsmith spent a considerable amount of time at safety during Tuesday’s practice. But because Thomas remains only questionable, there is a possibility he will play against Ball State.
Means, Fisher recovering
As the Hoosiers’ secondary took a big hit with Thomas’ injury, the wide receiving corps received some good news when junior Ray Fisher suited up in full pads on Tuesday.
Fisher missed the team’s second game of the season against Murray State because of an injured shoulder. Lynch admitted after the game Fisher probably could have played, but sat for precautionary reasons. It appeared though that Fisher’s shoulder might have been bothersome as he wore a brace throughout practice.
While Fisher sat, junior wide receiver Andrew Means played through a dislocated finger sustained toward the end of fall camp.
Only now is the injury finally starting to heal.
“It’s still real tender, and it’s still a little loose, and every time you catch a ball it gives you a little pain,” Means said. “But it’s nothing I can’t play with.”
Running back corps looking to replicate success
In their last game on Sept. 6, the Hoosiers dominated Murray State in a 45-3 win at Memorial Stadium. The win was, in large part, due to the success of the IU running game.
Five different players scored touchdowns for the Hoosiers with a total of six touchdowns coming on the ground. It was the first time five players had scored running touchdowns for IU since 1949.
“Running the ball like that against Murray State gives us more confidence,” junior running back Demetrius McCray said. “We just hope we can do it again on Saturday.”
The odds at a similar performance are somewhat favorable against Ball State. Through their first three games, the Cardinals rank No. 99 in the nation at stopping the run. While the offense has performed well behind quarterback Nate Davis, the Cardinals have allowed 186 yards per game and five total rushing touchdowns.
“They’re a good team,” McCray said. “We’re looking forward for the challenge this Saturday night and obviously we’re just trying to prove ourselves.”
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