Changes coming for Hoosiers at defensive tackle and in secondary

With the start of spring football practice a month away, Indiana football coach Bill Lynch gave reporters an update Tuesday morning on his team’s personnel changes and injuries over the winter.

Eight players chose to leave the program over the winter, and the significant news among them is the departure of defensive tackles Kevin and Keith Burrus. The Burrus brothers looked to be mainstays in the middle of IU’s defensive line next season, but decided to graduate after the fall semester, rather than plays as fifth-year seniors in 2009.

The other six players who left the squad voluntarily, according to a list handed out to reporters at a team 6 a.m. winter conditioning workout Tuesday, are Devin Anderson, Fabienne Boone, Armando Bustamante, Dane Conwell, Brandon Kiel and Kyle Lambeck.

To help compensate for the loss of Burrus brothers, IU has moved offensive linemen Jarrod Smith and Milton Owens to defensive tackle. The only other returning defensive tackles on IU’s roster are junior Deonte Mack and redshirt freshmen Larry Black, Mick Mentzer and Nick Sliger.

Earlier this offseason, IU announced that sophomore defensive tackle Jeff Boyd had decided to leave the football program.

Lynch said Smith, a 6-4, 306-pound junior, will compete for a starting spot, as could Owens, a 6-2, 297-pound sophomore, who came to IU as a walk-on.

To make matters more difficult at defensive tackle, the Hoosiers will be without Mack, who had off-season hip surgery, during spring football. Other players who will miss spring practice, which runs from March 24 to April 18, because of injuries are Mike Stark (back), Will Patterson (wrist), Chris Hagerup (ACL), Charles Love III (ACL), Nick Polk (ACL), Austin Thomas (ACL), Adrian Burks (shoulder surgery).

The players who will miss spring practice are all expected to be ready to play this fall, Lynch said, except for Stark, a starter on the offensive line last fall.

“His back is a situation where we’re a little uncertain what his future will be,” Lynch said of Stark.

Most of the injuries were suffered last season, with the exception of Patterson, who fell and injured his wrist while working out on his own this winter, and Hagerup, who’s had a problem with his knee for some time that he decided to have doctors correct this offseason.

Lynch also discussed seven players who switched positions, all of them from offensive to defense. Four of those changes will help address a defensive secondary that struggled last season and will be without both of its starting safeties, Polk and Thomas, during spring practice.

The biggest of these changes will involve wide receiver Ray Fisher moving to cornerback for the spring. Fisher was an outstanding cornerback in high school, Lynch said, who was slight of build when he arrived at IU, but has gotten stronger.

“We want to practice him all spring at corner and see what he does,” Lynch said. “He’s a strong, physical kid who we think could become a very good corner.”

Other position changes include moving Trea Burgess from running back to linebacker, Shane Covington from wide receiver to safety, Kyle Dietrick from wide receiver to safety, Collin Taylor from wide receiver to safety, and Smith and Owens from offensive line to to defensive tackle.

Kellen Lewis wasn’t listed as a position change, but did appear to be doing drills with the wide receiver group during the conditioning workout Tuesday. Lewis will be playing “all over the place” during spring ball, Lynch said, which will include time at quarterback, but also at other skill positions on offense.

Lynch said his players’ attitudes and work ethic have been good over the winter, and he likes the leadership of the 2009 team, which has more seniors on its roster, 21, than IU’s past couple of teams.

41 comments

  1. I can’t wait until they fire the man with the longest losing streak in D 1 history! If you can’t beat MAC schools you sure as hell are not gonna beat big ten teams. There is no hope. We had the worst coaching probably in college football last year on both sides of the ball.

  2. I hope Lynch doesn’t move everyone around from position to position like last year. I think it would be hard for guys to get in a groove if they are constantly moving from position to position.
    If he wants to start Chappell, then start Chappell. If he wants to start Lewis, start Lewis. I don’t think we can run dual-QBs.

    It seemed like last year Lynch almost ran Chappell as an option QB and Lewis as a pro-QB. Switch those up and we’ve got two effective quarterbacks. Play it the same and we’re ineffective.

  3. The stadium has been/ will be modernized, there have been/will be some position changes, is there anything that could be done with the uniforms? They’re so… bland. Maybe it could help with more wins?

  4. I’m willing to give Lynch a chance to build the program but it is not a good sign when you have to start shuffling this many players from offense to defense.

  5. Ok, kids…… don’t give up the team already. We’ve got a good Freshman class coming in and most of last years class red-shirted. So, I think we’ll be better than last year by far.

    Bowl? Probably not with Ohio St., Mich. and Penn St. all on the schedule, as well as Virgina.

    But, I do think we’ll be more like a 5-7 or 6-6 team and, with a couple of positive bounces going our way, maybe just maybe 7-5.

    Any of these records would be a step back in the right direction considering our schedule is much tougher this year with the additions of Virginia, Ohio St. and Mich.

  6. I agree with Mike W. With our lack of depth at the defensive back position last year, it looks like Lynch is going with more skill to back up the existing safeties. Burgess never really got any time at running back, so that shouldn’t be a problem with Payton, McCray, and Willis. And as far as Fisher goes, it’ll be nice to have a corner that can catch interceptions as opposed to drop them. It felt like that happened at least twice a game last year. Plus, with Turner and Belcher having good years and showing potential, along with Duwyce Wilson coming along, I think this gave Lynch the option of moving Fisher to defense.

  7. With the players leaving and so many with the switching of positions and all, I hate to put it on the coaching staff but that is where the issue is. When I read the release I could not believe that there were that many kids gone, switching positions, and injured. Crazy! With that said I will be at every home game cheering like mad!

  8. Fish to defense is a great move by Coach! Could be our next Porter. Think of Hoosiers in the NFL who’ve changed positions and become stars: Randle El to WR and Dielman to OL. Great instincts by Coach. I see 8 wins in 2009.

  9. J Pat:

    Boyd flunked out, the Burrus brothers graduated and didn’t want to play another year (happens all the time), the rest of the guys would have never played. What is the issue? This stuff happens everywhere. We have guys leave every year.

    Smitty:

    Belcher, Doss, Wilson, Evans, etc. We have a ton of receivers. Fisher could move back if we really needed him.

  10. Jimmy, do you know the Burrus bros personally??? If I am a 5th year kid and me and my bro are starting our last year, I am staying put unless I am getting drafted. It is strange for sure. Also, the rest of those guys could have all played, look at last years team and the injuries, talent, etc. Sorry but I disagree.

  11. I see some positive changes, and Fisher moving to corner will be a major one. He is an exciting receiver to watch, but as Jordan said, Turner & Belcher coming back and Wilson coming in makes moving Fisher an easy choice.

    The injury to Mike Stark is exactly the reason IU went a offered a full ride to Aaron Price so late in the game. They wanted Aaron all along, but wanted him to take a preferred walk on status. Starks uncertain future (and Ziegler’s arrest) left them needing a lineman.

    Trea Burgess is a move that intrigues me. I know with Payton, McCray and Willis on running the ball, Burgess most likely would not have seen field time this year. At 6′-1″ and 223lbs, he his 15-20 lbs lighter than what I would like to see. His speed and instincts to find the open hole (like RBs do) should make him valuable for stopping the run. I think I will watch him pretty close in the spring game.

    Lewis not being officially removed from the QB spot scares me. They need to develop a rhythm from the QB to the WRs early this year, and the fact they plan on playing Lewis “all over the place” tells me they should make the choice now and either stay with him at QB, or put the ball in Ben’s hands and let him lead this team. Lewis is a tremendous athlete and play maker, he is however not a tremendous QB. He has the arm, but lacks the touch and accuracy we need from a QB. In the slot or lined up weak side as the lone receiver would be his best place on the field. As we seen last year when he threw INTs, he isn’t going to make any tackles.

    As for the W-L possibilities, this is a toss up year. Lynch needs to be 6-6 (at least) to keep his job, and I am not sure he can do that.

    Eastern Kentucky – W

    Western Michigan – W/L, this might be a toss up, not sure what they have coming back.

    @Akron – W

    @Michigan – L, this is another toss up game, but winning on the road is not something IU does.

    Ohio State – L, this game could very well set the tone for the rest of the 2009 season. If tOSU blows them out, I see the pieces starting to crumble and fall. If they play hard and stay in the game, this could be a confidence booster (even with an L) that may push them the rest of the way.

    @Virginia – L, IU could possibly upset this team, but the week after tOSU, I have this feeling they will be nursing injuries and licking wounds. Couple that with this being a road game, IU struggles.

    Illinois – W, I am calling it now, the Illini will drop off next year, but come into Bloomington with that Ron Zook arrogance looking at 3 straight loses for the Hoosiers and get caught looking past us.

    @Northwestern – W, this won’t be an upset as they will face a big drop off this year. This will be a game IU has to finish on the road.

    @Iowa – W/L, I believe IU’s last road victory came at Iowa (don’t feel like looking it up), but Iowa was stronger last year than years past. If Iowa struggles in the 1st half of the season, IU will be in for a long game, if Iowa is tough the first half of the season, look for a Kirk Ferentz team meltdown.

    Wisconsin – L, nothing more to say. IU can’t play with the Badgers for 4 quarters.

    @ Penn State – L, To hard to win in College Station, and last I checked, Joe Pa is still leading PSU.

    Purdue – W, Revenge will be sweat!

    They way I look at it, we can be 4-8, 5-6 or 6-6 based solely on the schedule. There is a possibility of a 7-5 record, but to get there they will need 4 wins in the Big Ten.

  12. I asked Lynch today about Finch and he said he’s been doing well in the off-season conditioning workouts. Finch sprained an ankle a bit today in one of the early drills and was riding a bike at the morning workout, but that appeared to be just precautionary.

  13. As far as all the WR’s moving to DB…How many WR’s will the Hoosiers play this year? Is the spread something that went in for Lewis and now it’s done? 4 WR’s moving seems like alot, but if they go from using 4 most plays to using 2 and 3, then there’s plenty left.
    I think it’s interesting the Mitchell Evans was NOT one of the WR’s moved to DB. He played safety as a frosh and moved to QB/WR last year. The fact that they didn’t move him back must mean they have big plans for him this year.
    Oh, Mike P…I think Texas A&M plays in College Station and Penn St. in State College.

  14. J Pat –

    From what I have heard before the Burrus’decided to leave, the consensus for DT next year was Mack starting with Sliger and Black competing for the other position. Then it would be a competition between the Burrus’ and Mentzer for the final position in the 2 deep. So its not surprising that 5th year guys that are potentially 3rd stringers to leave

  15. mav23,

    You are correct. My mistake, but thanks for catching it.

    Mitchell Evans was a QB that was converted to safety then brought back to WR and I believe is currently the #3 QB behind Kellen and Ben.

  16. Phil, I stay up with the IU football pretty well, trust me. I know one bro is better than the other, but they both would have seen much playing time. Yes, strange that they would leave…just my take. You take a small load of classes if that and have NO worries in the classroom and finally get your playing time but you choose to leave??? I could be crazy but it seemed like a lot leaving, injured, and moving positions. and yes I blame the coaching staff and I will until they act like they know what the hell they are doing and win a few games!!!

  17. Phil, read what I wrote and let’s be honest. Has anyone posting here ever seen the amount of injuries from last year in any other year at IU. Several people within the field of health, rec,and sports blogged here about training routines and yes…you have to question the amount of injuries but I am mainly speaking of the amount of kids off of the team.

  18. Aruss,

    I made a mistake, and admitted it.

    Now let me ask you this, do you really want to put yourself through this again? Like I have before, I can and will bury you on any discussion about football.

    My 9 year old son has more knowledge of football than you have ever shown in your postings. Hell, he even called me out on the College Station remark, wanting to know “what were you thinking?”.

  19. 0 confidence in our 5-play playbook.
    Enthusiasm in the fanbase? Not much.
    QB uncertainty.
    Aruss the expert sees 8 wins. hahaha
    Players moving about and leaving the program.
    Ticket prices up? Attendance is going to be horrible.

    2 wins max until I see the spring game.
    I’ll be there.
    This program is in real trouble.
    Hope I’m wrong.

  20. KevinK, I was disgusted when I got my ticket renewal in the mail yesterday. It was 249 per ticket last year for 8 games and now it is 230 for 6. At 40 or so a ticket, that is about a 60 dollar increase. I thought with 2 games less this year and retaining Lynch with the economy that it would be between 190 and 200. IU counts on us loyal 25,000 or so to make up the cost and that is a slap in the face. What is interesting is that I have had a few drop out of our party and after the cost maybe all will drop except for me and my family. We just might see the lowest attendance in the history of the program. This will be the first year in at least the last three that we have nothing to be excited about, get up for! Who knows, maybe they will come out new and improved, I hope for the best. Take care.

  21. I still have hope, based on 2 things:
    1) the offense last year was all based on Lewis running the spread. Certainly the coaches are making changes?!? If they have Lewis do things he did his Soph year things could be better.
    2) The DB’s were so incredibly inferior last year, with 4 new guys it’s obvious the coaches realize it and will be working on it.

    Matt P.
    Look for Evans to be a major player at WR this year. Not that I know anything…of course I could be his high school head coach

  22. mav23,

    I think your last comment was directed toward me, even though you said Matt and not Mike.

    Anyways, I didn’t find it surprising at all Evans was not moved back safety, and that has nothing to do with his ability at that position. I also don’t disagree with you, was just stating what had went on with him.

    I would like to see him taking the spot that was vacated by Andrew Means, and becoming the first choice at WR. To me, he falls under that same category as Lewis, he is a playmaker that needs to be on the field with the offense, and they need to get the ball in his hands past the line of scrimmage.

    I just worry that this staff will not properly use his abilities, they have that tendency.

  23. Back to the fun arguing of football

    Aruss, can I please have what you are smokin? Please?

    The position switching is a good move, take away from our surplus and put into our deficit, easy concept.

    If Lynch doesn’t go to a bowl, expect a new coach, or an AD who will be screamed at.

  24. I know this isn’t about IU football, but I had to bring it up. Has anyone here paid attention to David Buehler at the NFL combine? If you don’t know who he is, he was the kicker for USC. This KICKER benched 225lbs 25 times yesterday. Wow!

  25. Any hardcore IU fans that would be interested in covering IU hoops or football for a sports website? We are interested in passionate, talented writers who love the Hoosiers. check out isportsweb today!

  26. The above article has walk-on Kyle Lambeck as quitting, WRONG. After getting permission from a trainer to be absent from a work out,Lynch told him he couldn’t cut him for missing for a funeral but he wouldn’t guarrantee that he would have a spot on the team. Kyle took that as he was cut.What a way to be told you are no longer wanted on the team.

  27. It’s a mystery to me that IU football had Kyle Lambeck on their team and never utilized him. As a high school senior Kyle had the highest punting average in the state of Indiana. What a missed opportunity on the IU football staff’s part! Apparently “Indiana Football” doesn’t include Indiana athletes!

Comments are closed.