Hoosiers bracing for nasty weather in Miami #iufb

Indiana's Alex Rodriguez (23), Dawson Fletcher (29) and Chris Covington (4) sprint downfield on special teams duties during practice on Aug. 15. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
Indiana’s Alex Rodriguez (23), Dawson Fletcher (29) and Chris Covington (4) sprint downfield on special teams duties during practice on Aug. 15. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Every summer, Kevin Johns enters the preseason with a list of things he wants to accomplish.

Wet football drills are chief among those objectives for the Indiana offensive coordinator. Most years, that requires filling a bucket with water, carrying it to the practice fields, dropping a ball inside and then tossing it to receivers to make sure they can catch it.

Not this year.

Indiana took advantage of some of the wet and sticky Bloomington weather in recent weeks, holding practice outside under rain showers rather than staying inside Mellencamp Pavilion.

By the time the Hoosiers take the field at Florida International in Miami on Thursday, they might be glad they did.

It’s going to be a wet week in Florida, as the state tightens its grip against the peak of hurricane season. Local forecasts in Miami call for rain all week, with upwards of three to five inches expected in South Florida through Wednesday due to a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico.

More rain could fall Thursday, which might make for a messy 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium.

To the extent to which it can, Indiana feels they’ve prepared for this possibility.

“We’ve actually had two, three or four practices where we went out, purposely, and played in the rain to make those guys feel it and learn how to deal with it,” Johns said.

During one scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 13, Kevin Wilson wanted to get his team outside in the rain, but the Hoosiers were forced into their indoor facility due to thunder and lightning in the area.

That was the start of a nasty four-day stretch under the rain clouds.

“We’ve had it happen here, especially with the opener going down to South Florida, (where) you get some delays,” Wilson said in a video posted by IU Athletics after that practice. “It don’t matter. You still have to deal with it.”

So that’s what Indiana has tried to do this month.

The team worked on its practice field during a shower on the morning of Monday, Aug. 15. The Hoosiers followed with drills inside Memorial Stadium during a downpour the next morning.

Thursday’s game will be played on FieldTurf at FIU’s stadium.

“It’s good to get a couple wet balls, especially if you’re a center or quarterback and (make) exchanges like that,” right guard Dan Feeney said. “I think we’re getting a lot of experience with it. The humidity here helps a little bit with that.”

The fussy Florida weather will be familiar to a dozen Hoosiers who hail from the state.

That group includes linebackers T.J. Simmons and Reakwon Jones, defensive linemen Greg Gooch and Brandon Wilson, safeties Tony Fields and Khalil Bryant, offensive linemen Delroy Baker and Grayson Stover, receivers Ricky Jones, Nick Westbrook and Phil Benker and running back Clyde Newton.

“Everybody from Florida loves Florida,” Newton said.

Maybe not the ugly August or September weather.

But Indiana, at least, feels it has done what it could to prepare for it.

“I do feel as comfortable, I guess, as I’ve ever been going into a first game that we’ve at least had those experiences,” Johns said. “Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect, but we’ve at least felt it and dealt with it and had to manage it in a practice situation.”