‘Kick It With The Specialists’ put on hold

You might remember Dustin Dopirak’s story of Indiana’s specialists, a weekly newsletter and the two open seats at their Friday dinner table.

It was “Kick It With The Specialists,’ a weekly highlight inside Indiana’s game week preparation. It featured a parody newsletter written by former kicker Mitch Ewald that was distributed to players inside their lockers during the week, inviting two players — one offensive and one defensive — to join the group for the pregame meal.

But after a slow start to this season, it appears the tradition is left in limbo.

IU’s specialists backed off the weekly promotion after a rough outing at Bowling Green on Sept. 13 and haven’t returned to it since. But after back-to-back quality weeks, including one that produced a Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor for redshirt freshman kicker Griffin Oakes, perhaps the time might be right to revisit the fun.

“It’s yet to be seen,” punter Erich Toth said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’ll see if we bring it back this week.”

After graduating, Ewald passed down the tradition to long snapper Matt Dooley and Toth, who had been tasked with emailing the weekly newsletter to Ewald.

“Toth knew to send it to me every week so I could see what’s going on,” Ewald said by phone Tuesday.

Toth and Dooley kept the newsletter alive in the weeks leading into the Indiana State and Bowling Green games but haven’t deployed it since the 45-42 loss to the Falcons.

“We’ve kind of taken off since then just because we think it might make the team become unfocused a bit because it’s kind of clowning around,” Toth said. “We just try to be focused and focus on ourselves. We still want to integrate with the team any way we can, but Friday dinners we’re focusing on ourselves and our jobs. We did it the first couple weeks, but haven’t kept up with it. We’ll see how that goes.”

By the way, we’ll have a story on Oakes and his big game against Maryland set to run in Wednesday’s Herald-Times.