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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Hoosiers look for receivers to step up

Newcomers must gain experience for success

Junior L.J. Parker caught two passes last season, one for 16 yards against Northwestern and another against Wisconsin.\nGlenn Johnson redshirted last season, but saw time as a true freshman the year before, playing in eight games without a catch.\nSophomore Travis Haney didn't play in 2000, either, redshirting his first season with the Hoosiers.\nMeet the 2001 IU receiving corps.\nThe Hoosiers entered the season with almost no experience at receiver. Henry Frazier, who had the most career experience with four catches in 11 games, was supposed to be one of IU's go-to guys. The other was senior Antwaan Randle El, a quarterback who started the season as a receiver.\nThings have changed since the season started.\nAfter a season-opening loss to North Carolina State, Frazier hasn't played since. And Randle El returned full-time to quarterback for the second game of the season against Utah.\nThe remaining receivers -- Parker, Johnson, Haney and true freshman Courtney Roby -- haven't played poorly, but they've yet to provide the game-breaking ability IU had at receiver last season, coach Cam Cameron said.\n"We scored a lot of points with our wide receivers last year," Cameron said. "Versie Gaddis made a lot of big plays, and so did Jerry Dorsey, especially early in the year, which helped keep our running game alive late in the year. People were afraid we were going to throw the ball over their head.\n"So I think as our receivers get better, you'll see us score more points."\nBut the Hoosiers' offensive woes aren't limited to a lack of points.\nRandle El hasn't found a favorite target. Or a deep threat.\nAs a result, opposing defensive backs have been able to stay inside and cover IU's short routes. Against Ohio State, the Hoosiers started a drive at their own 5-yard line with 7:30 remaining. No receivers were able to get open down field, and Randle El had to settle for short passes over the middle.\nThe drive ended with a fumble and ate up nearly four minutes of clock, leaving IU with no hopes of a comeback when it got the ball again with 2:45 left, down two scores.\nThe Hoosiers had the same problem against Utah -- no one open deep. In fact, the only deep pass play IU has on this season was a 44-yard touchdown strike to running back Levron Williams against Ohio State.\nRandle El said he hopes to solve the problem before the Hoosiers head to Wisconsin Saturday. The Badgers gear their defense toward stopping the run, and a lack of a passing game might lead to a long day for IU.\n"We've got to be able to (go deep)," Randle El said. "(When) corners play off and inside, we've got to be able to pump them some kind of way and be able to get a deep ball. If not, they're going to do what Utah did.\n"They're going to backpedal just a little bit and sit on those routes. We've got to be able to go deep on them a couple times. We've got to develop, just run something from old that we know we can perfect in the next couple of days."\nJohnson, the team's most reliable receiver thus far with nine catches for 111 yards and a touchdown, said he's confident the receivers are up to the challenge.\nHe also feels he's capable of stepping into a role as Randle El's primary target, taking some of the receiving load off Williams.\n"I feel I earned the quarterback's trust by catching the ball consistently and trying to get yards after the catch," Johnson said. "All of us need to become veteran and trustworthy guys, but I think that I pretty much made it as a go-to guy between me and the running backs and the tight ends."\nLeaving IU with a go-to guy with nine career catches.

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