IU taking the good with the bad from freshman crop

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson committed to neither excitement nor disappointment when he went back to the film and watched the 11 freshmen who saw action in last weekend’s season opener.

For his part, IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said as much after diagnosing a toned-down, out of sync passing game against Indiana State.

There were takeaways and teaching points for each of the newcomers in their first collegiate playing opportunity and, as the Hoosiers use the bye week to continue preparing for Bowling Green on Sept. 13, that’s just fine.

“Just getting some of those first time little glitches and minor mental issues out of the way,” Wilson said this week. “The more you play, the more confident you get, the faster you go — all that deal. So, they’re gonna be better. By no means were we disappointed. I don’t think anyone surprised us.”

Defensively, Wilson was happy with Tony Fields’ debut at safety, even though he couldn’t corral a potential interception. On the other side, receiver J-Shun Harris fumbled his first punt return opportunity, but Wilson said he played a fine, consistent game otherwise.

“(Simmie) Cobbs has a couple nice catches and everyone says he looks good, but he probably has as many busts as anyone,” Wilson said. “Just out of whack or proper alignment. So as he plays, he’ll be so much better. … It’s a good group.”

Although Indiana never seemed to lose control of the game, the Sycamores cut their deficit to 11 points late in the third quarter, meaning the freshmen were not merely playing junk minutes. It was an encouraging point for Wilson’s staff to make to the group.

They relied on the younger guys in meaningful moments and, for the most part, they responded.

“They lined up, they executed the defense and having an opportunity to play so many freshmen in some actual quality time will help out for our future as far as depth,” IU defensive coordinator Brian Knorr said. “I would grade it as satisfactory.”

Johns is now tasked with getting his young receivers in sync with quarterback Nate Sudfeld. The IU offensive coordinator acknowledged their were hiccups in the passing game, but didn’t seem concerned that any of those first-game jitters could linger.

This week, Johns’ players have worked on themselves, while beginning the early introductions to IU’s package for Bowling Green. Johns said the team also isn’t overly concerned with striking more of a balance between the run and a the pass in the second game. The Hoosiers will go with what’s working and, if it’s the passing game, it’ll be ready when they need it.

“That’s why they call me coach,” Johns said. “We’ll get that cleaned up and be ready for Week 2.”