Fall football camp: Day 1

Terry Hoeppner’s widow Jane and daughter Allison Balcam attended today’s practice. As the Hoosiers began their first stretch of the year as a squad, two of Hoeppner’s grandsons — Tate and Quinn Balcam — occupied the other practice field and played catch on a hot, soupy summer afternoon.

Indiana head coach Bill Lynch reiterated — since there were some members of the media there who hadn’t already heard it a few times — that he thinks this team has already adjusted to practice without Hoeppner.

“We ran it the same way we ran it 15 times in the spring,” Lynch said. “. . . The whole administration and everyone involved in this process has done a great job of keeping some level of consistency. That’s what kids this age need.”

The only player to miss the first day of camp was second string offensive lineman James Brewer, who will have surgery Tuesday on his foot. He’s out indefinitely.

You’d probably love to know something about the freshmen, but even Lynch admitted afterwards that a few hours with kids isn’t enough. He caught glimpses of several of the 24 — since they comprise one fourth of the team — and observed, “They look good in the uniform.”

Perhaps the biggest stride Indiana made today was in what Lynch termed “learning how to practice this way.” Now that the NCAA has implemented several days of acclimation practices — the team won’t wear pads until Saturday — coaches have to find a way to make the first week of camp useful. Usually they do that by working heavily on technique and spacing, as opposed to later in the camp when physicality and instinctual play will be emphasized. But right now these kids want to do nothing more than hit. They’ve spent all summer cooped up in the gym or playing 7-on-7. Lynch and his staff did a good job keeping the players focused on getting quality non-contact reps during the two-and-a-half hour session.

James Hardy was the sharpest player on the field, although he did get lazy on one play and fail to tuck the ball after catch catch. Chris Phillips stripped it away from him. Kellen Lewis was high on many of his throws, but backup Ben Chappell was higher on many more of his throws. That’s what happens with riled-up quarterbacks trying to find a rhythm in structured drills.

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