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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Time to see more of Chappell

MINNEAPOLIS – IU sophomore quarterback Ben Chappell has been kept in park for too long.

A little bit of No. 4 here, a little bit there, but not a whole lot of offensive driving.
And with the direction the 2008 season is heading, Chappell needs to see more of the field.

He might not possess the wheels of a mustang. He might not tally the miles in comparison to his foes. He might not have the horsepower to make the game-changing play.

But it’s time for Chappell to go for a longer test drive. Especially when IU’s older model – sophomore Kellen Lewis, who conducts most of the Hoosiers’ offense – is having some engine trouble as of late.

I don’t believe it’s entirely due to Lewis’ inability to make plays – we all know what he brings to the table. A lot has to do with his limited targets on offense.
Still, Lewis’ signature ground game has disappeared.

In Saturday’s 16-7 loss to Minnesota, he netted a pedestrian 18 yards. When IU hosted Michigan State two weeks ago, Lewis only registered 26 rushing yards.

IU coach Bill Lynch has clearly taken the ball out of his hands and wants to utilize the passing game. However, the air attack hasn’t been a smooth ride either.

Lewis has only averaged roughly 163 passing yards in the Hoosiers’ five contests thus far. The only pass play it seems IU can count on is that quick screen to running back Marcus Thigpen or to wide receiver Ray Fisher, a five-yard pass play at most.

At his post-game press conference, Lewis seemed frustrated with his team’s offensive play. To be blunt, I don’t blame him.

“We came in prepared with what we were going to run and at first we couldn’t get in sync,” Lewis said. “Both offenses struggled a bit with the good performances by both defenses. We struggled.”

Reality is the Golden Gophers don’t resemble a powerhouse defense like, for example, Penn State. IU beat itself on offense from the first snap.  

Frankly, the Hoosiers aren’t winning with this offense. Whether you want to believe it or not, Lewis might not be the right fit.

However, if he had more playmakers, that could change.

Lynch, open the garage and start Chappell up. There’s too much of that new-car smell, he’s not been driven enough.

Despite a lower speedometer than Lewis, Chappell’s cannon sparks the Hoosier offense in ways his counterpart’s doesn’t.

He loves the long routes and is more effective with the play-action pass than Lewis.
On Saturday, Chappell hooked up with Thigpen for a 77-yard touchdown pass.

Remember his 97-yard bomb to wide receiver Terrance Turner against Michigan State? The play was negated due to a holding call, but I’ll bet that gave you a double take.

If Chappell won over his teammates and baffled his coaching staff, he deserves more playing time than a few snaps – it can’t hurt.

Against Minnesota, the Hoosiers only recorded three of 14 offensive drives lasting more than two minutes. Lynch said it himself: the first unit never got it together.

“We didn’t do enough on the offensive side to score the points we needed,” Lynch said. “We had too many turnovers and weren’t very good on third downs.”

Don’t misunderstand me. I like Lewis – I really do. He is one of the most explosive playmakers in the nation.

However, IU’s current team doesn’t suit the junior.

Within the Hoosiers’ offense, Lewis would be more dynamic at wide receiver. When at quarterback, the offense is too hit-or-miss.

Lewis, you take shotgun. Let Chappell stir the offense.

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