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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Spring Game is only a glimpse, that’s it

Whether you’re a critic, a fan or a love-to-hate sports columnist, don’t don the John Madden costume when analyzing IU’s spring football game.

Save the comprehensive breakdown for the fall and do us all a favor: hold off on the analyst apparel until Halloween.

That message probably needs to be reinforced to my colleagues in the media more so than spectators, because the press takes this intra-squad game too seriously.

Year after year, writers, broadcasters and even Joe, who blogs in his underwear, draw too many conclusions from this gridiron grudge that settles only bragging rights, not records.

And year after year, the storylines  are the same – IU looks good here, questionable there and the players want to put the past behind them.

I’m not saying this ritual isn’t necessary. It’s always good experience to play 11 guys on each side of the ball and have them go at it.

But two interspersed teams, an officiating crew and people in the stands don’t simulate a real game.

No matter if they’re wearing the same or different-colored jerseys, the bout is operated under one playbook, one coaching staff and one squad split up only for the time being.

“Everyone knows everyone’s plays, which is a wrinkle,” said junior quarterback Ben Chappell, who tossed 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 28-27 loss to the Crimson team. “I think we are going to tell from the summer how we are going to do in the fall more than the spring. We got to keep everyone here working hard.”

That’s not to say Saturday’s game wasn’t a springboard for the summer and fall months.

Instead of holding the magnifying glass and dissecting every intangible element in the four 12-minute quarter contest, consider the promise in some players.

Running backs Trea Burgess, Demetrius McCray and Darius Willis combined for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

The backfield’s stellar performance ensures IU coach Bill Lynch is committed to the downhill running game he introduced after spring break.

On the flip side, it doesn’t ensure more yards on the ground come fall, because Ohio State, Virginia and Penn State, not the Hoosiers, will be lining up opposite those backs.

The Spring Game is essentially another experiment.

Because the squad is halved, second- and third-stringers transform into starters and some first-team guys are forced to play other positions.

Take sophomore wide receiver Tandon Doss, for example.

Aside from totaling 61 receiving yards, Doss netted 133 yards on five kick returns for the Cream’s special teams unit.

Twenty-six yards per return is a good average, considering IU didn’t take any kickoffs to the house last year.

However, Doss’ prolific return game doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll gain 853 special teams yards, like Marcus Thigpen did last season.

His effort, moreover, tells the coaching staff he’s a legit player to compete for the job.
It’s basically laissez-faire teaching, a chance for coaches to evaluate the team’s improvement throughout the 15 allotted spring practices.

Lynch admitted he takes a step back from his everyday role and allows his squad to compete without any demonstrations or interruptions.

“I’ve always felt like Spring Games are for the players,” Lynch said. “(The coaches) get 14 cracks, and (the players) got to do what we tell them to do. On the 15th day, they get to kind of go out and play.”

So before you go on a rant on how this scheme works and that one doesn’t, remember that spring practice just concluded.

Reserve the stringent critique for the fall, when IU competes in games that actually mean something.

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