Six days of fall camp are in the books.
The Hoosiers are just 24 days away from their season opener at Florida International, a team IU defeated in Bloomington 36-22 a season ago. The Hoosiers still have questions to answer if they are to defeat FIU again, and IU Coach Kevin Wilson took time to address some of those questions today.
IU’s projected starter at left tackle, sophomore Brandon Knight, has a minor foot injury. Wilson didn’t sound overly concerned in a video courtesy of IUHoosiers.com, but is holding Knight out for the moment. Senior Dan Feeney and freshman Coy Cronk, according to Wilson, are two linemen who have filled in for Knight during practice.
Cronk’s athleticism and strength have impressed Wilson, and the newcomer has a definite possibility of seeing the field his first season as a Hoosier.
Junior defensive lineman Robert McCray III fell on his shoulder and, like, Knight, is out right now. Jayme Thompson, also a junior, is in a boot due to turf toe and freshman Reakwon Jones tweaked his hamstring.
None of those three are overly major, but McCray’s injury shines a light on an already thin defensive line that Wilson doesn’t want to overwork and Thompson is missing time on the field he would have spent in a battle for playing time at husky.
Wilson attributes other minor nicks and bruises to players adjusting to new positions.
“Some of those guys," Wilson said, "are playing positions where they’re going into, they’re kind of athletic big guys but, they’re going into some of those positions where there’s more banging.”
He said it’ll take time to form a base and allow their bodies to adjust to a different level of strain than they’re used to, thus ensuring they don’t break down in by October or November.
Camion Patrick was participating in pads with his teammates, but Wilson said he still doesn’t have the lateral movement to make guys miss in the open field.
Outside of Cronk, junior tight end Ian Thomas and others have impressed.
Thomas, a junior college transfer, adds another big body to a tight end group that must replace the production of those lost to graduation.
Freshmen wide receiver Taysir Mack and running backs Tyler Natee and Cole Gest are other players to play well so far on offense. Natee provides IU with a big-back option alongside senior Clyde Newton, and, according to Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine, Wilson even went so far as to describe Natee to as former Wisconsin Badger Ron Dayne.
Dayne won the 1999 Heisman Trophy.
Freshman Marcelino Ball may see the field at husky, where he’s competing with the currently injured Thompson, sophomore Zeke Walker and junior Ben Bach. Although, Wilson mentioned they’ve also been playing Bach at corner.
Smith spent the summer with the Hoosiers but won’t be on the team this fall. The 247Sports Composite three-star offensive lineman is still recovering from a lisfranc injury he suffered this past winter, and won’t be healthy until November.
In order to save what would have been an automatic redshirt, Wilson said Smith will pay his own way this fall and join the team in January with full eligibility remaining. This technically gives IU another scholarship it could award to a walk-on player this fall, and Smith’s scholarship will count toward next year’s total.
Not much has changed, although Wilson said he did make a comment to offensive coordinator Kevin Johns regarding the practice format and how plays are scripted.
“We kind of need to know who the quarterback is going to be,” Wilson said, referencing how IU’s been cycling players in and out, “because some of these quarterbacks need to work on different things, and with some of these quarterbacks you would emphasize different things.”
As fall camp continues he’ll watch to see who the team rallies around and takes care of the ball. But, if nothing works, he does have another option.
“We’re just six practices in,” Wilson said, “so, of course, if they don’t do well we’ll put that big line up there and just hand the ball off a bunch. We’ve got a bunch of good backs.”