Indiana Daily Student

IU going with new look for the spring game

IU's Crimson team waits for the Cream team to snap the ball during its spring game April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Cream defeated Crimson 24-14.
IU's Crimson team waits for the Cream team to snap the ball during its spring game April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Cream defeated Crimson 24-14.

After three weeks of training in private, it’s time for IU Coach Kevin Wilson’s staff to let the players loose.

Fans will get their first public look at the 2015 Hoosier football team Saturday during the annual Cream & Crimson Spring Game at Memorial ?Stadium.

The game — which has free admission and kicks off at 2 p.m. — will have a new format this year that Wilson said he hopes gives the football team a Hoosier Hysteria-like atmosphere.

The game will be a mix of open practice and intrasquad scrimmaging, giving the public a firsthand look at what goes on in a typical football practice.

Fans will see a practice that’s serious but fun. Senior offensive lineman Jason Spriggs said that’s a change he’s seen this spring, players don’t dread going to practice — they’re enjoying it.

“We’re all coming to practice having fun,” Spriggs said. “It’s not just a grind. There’s points where you’re going to have to knuckle down and grind out, but everybody on this team is coming to practice and having fun.”

Wilson is hoping fans have a similar experience Saturday. IU has worked with the IU Student Foundation to promote the Little 500 5K run, which is scheduled to end right before Indiana’s Spring Game Festival kicks off at the South End of Memorial Stadium at noon.

The festival will feature free food and beverages, a fan zone and live music before the practice starts at 2 p.m.

“They’ll get a good show,” Wilson said.

The hybrid scrimmage-practice will be the 12th of 15 scheduled practices for the Hoosiers this spring. IU will still have a more typical intrasquad game next Thursday as part of the Little 500 weekend. The focus Saturday will be on creating more of a fan ?experience.

When Wilson last met with the media, he was still finalizing out the details of the open practice.

The plan is for players to receive individual training before splitting into sides where the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense will team up against the No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense in a scrimmage.

Rising sophomore linebacker Tegray Scales said the format won’t matter much because IU is still in the process of learning its identity.

The Hoosiers are still building, with freshmen on the way next fall. Some players are learning new positions. Others — such as rising junior linebacker T.J. Simmons and UAB transfers Marqui Hawkins and Jordan Howard — are hurt and won’t play.

Regardless, Scales said he thinks this weekend can be a chance to better pinpoint the gains the team has made in the five months since the ?season ended.

“We’re still trying to figure out what we can do to get better,” Scales said. “We’re still figuring out our positives and negatives so we can work as a team to continue to get better and move forward into next season.”

The format should give those in attendance plenty of opportunity to see how rising senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld looks returning to the field publicly for the first time since he separated his shoulder against Iowa in October.

Sudfeld will be joined by seven other players with starting experience who return on the offensive side of the ball. The defense will have five healthy players with starting experience available.

IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said the Cream & Crimson game will be a chance to see how players stack up in playing conditions. With a crowd on hand, it will be the closest thing to a game his guys have had since beating Purdue back in November.

“Any time we can put our kids in a real life, real game situations, we’re going to do that,” Johns said. “This Saturday will be another chance for us to do that where coaches can get off the field and really find out if kids can fix problems and solve problems and change momentum when you don’t have it and keep it when you do have it.”

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