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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Question posed to Lynch on freshman class: To play or not to play?

In the midst of a three-game slide, fans calling for his dismissal and a rash of the flu and injuries to his team, IU coach Bill Lynch is looking for answers.

One burning question raging since summer camp has been if promising freshmen – Lynch’s best recruiting class since taking over – can be the caulk to fill any cracks in the team’s foundation.  

However, Lynch has been cautious with his group of freshmen.

He has given playing time to only defensive tackle Adam Replogle, and the only redshirt decision he has made up to this point is on linebacker Damon Sims.

Two other prospects, quarterback Edward Wright-Baker and kicker Mitch Ewald, remain in limbo.  

Lynch said both have the ability to play this year, but he is not sure whether he should use them or not. If he chose to do so, both players would lose any eligibility to be redshirted and have a fifth year at IU.

“At some point, we do have to make that decision,” Lynch said. “But I don’t think we’re at that point right now.”

The pressure to make a redshirt decision on two of his best prospects may not be high now, but it will only ratchet up with each passing week.


Backup QB controversy  

Lynch has repeatedly said junior Ben Chappell is the team’s starting quarterback, and an injury to him gives way to an inexperienced quarterback, be it Wright-Baker or Adam Follett. Follett redshirted last year.

It would appear Wright-Baker is being groomed as the Hoosiers’ future starter, as he has taken the majority of the snaps with the second team during practice.

If there was ever a time Wright-Baker would be subbed in to give the team a spark, it would have been during a 47-7 shellacking last Saturday against Virginia.  

But it was Follett, not Wright-Baker, who came in for the team’s final drive Saturday, which begs the question: What are the plans for IU’s star quarterback prospect?  

If the focus is to prepare Wright-Baker for the future and use Follett as the backup this season, redshirting Wright-Baker would allow Follett to work with the second team and earn Wright-Baker a fifth year at IU.  
   
With a half season left on the schedule, Lynch remains on the fence.

“There’s too much football left,” Lynch said. “It’s a balancing act between what’s best for the young man and what’s best for the football team. With six football games left and where we’re sitting, there’s so much out there in front of us, and it’s too early because that position is so important.”  


Just for kicks

At a lower profile spot, Mitch Ewald has watched redshirted freshman Nick Freeland own the starting kicker spot all season.

Lynch said he is not too worried about an injury to Freeland, as kickers generally don’t get hurt too often, and he feels Freeland’s production has been solid enough to keep the starting spot.

With that in mind, Ewald remains without a redshirt as a precaution, so last year’s No. 3-ranked kicker in the nation might not learn his fate for a while.

Still, Freeland is only 69 percent on his field goals, with a long of just 38 yards, and has had two kicks blocked. Any future struggles, and Ewald’s name may rise on the depth chart.  

The decisions Lynch will have to make in the coming weeks won’t be easy. But as is the way with IU football, nothing ever is.  

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