Saturday football scrimmage highlights

In Indiana’s first scrimmage of the spring Saturday, the team’s offense looked a lot like it did at the end of last season – strong in the air and less impressive on the ground.

It wasn’t always easy to keep statistics with officials – at the direction of IU’s coaching staff – often moving the ball to a different spot on the Memorial Stadium field as soon as a play ended, but you didn’t need stats to see that Kellen Lewis played well.

My numbers show Lewis completing 13 of 19 passes for 261 yards. He was on target throughout the scrimmage and would have had a couple of more completions if not for dropped passes.

Ben Chappell, leading the No. 2 offense, also had a good scrimmage. He completed 11-of-17 for 130 yards. He had one bad pass that safety J.T. Owens picked off, but otherwise ran the offense well and hit receivers when they were open.

James Hardy was the leading receiver with three catches for 61 yards. Most of that yardage came on a 45-yard reception in which he made a long run, eluding Leslie Majors with a nice move, but then he tried to leap past a tackler near the five-yard line and fumbled in doing so.

Hardy’s fumble was one of three the No. 1 IU offense lost – the other two being coughed up by Marcus Thigpen (on a big hit from Majors) and Demetrius McCray. Those turnovers were obviously one of the biggest negatives for the offense on the day. Afterward, interim head coach Bill Lynch said you often see fumbles in the first scrimmage of the spring because the hitting is different than anything the players have seen since the end of the previous season.

A major plus for the offense was that few penalties were called in what was a crisp performance for a first scrimmage.

Nick Polk, coming off a strong redshirt freshman season, had a good scrimmage with four catches for 58 yards. Blake Powers, in an impressive debut at tight end, twice got wide open on the right sideline and caught two passes for 57 yards. McCray had two catches for 69 yards, with 59 of those yards coming on a catch and run where he broke a couple of tackles.

Linebackers coach George Ricumstrict said he liked the defense’s effort but thought there were too many missed tackles, again something you often see in the first scrimmage of the spring, he said.

Marcus Thigpen got most of the carries with the No. 1 offense and finished with 25 yards on 10 carries. McCray, according to my numbers, had just five yards on four carries.

Bryan Payton had the big run of the day, bursting 43 yards down the left sideline. Payton worked with the No. 2 and No. 3 offenses most of the day.

The running backs on the No. 1 offense made some good plays during the two-hour, 100-play scrimmage to get the yards they did, but the offensive line often wasn’t able to open up much running room. The line did a good job in pass protection, however.

Lewis said he thought the passing game was excellent Saturday and that the offense needs to continue to work on its running game.

2 comments

  1. Fumbles, something seen in the spring practice, that carried over from the last game of the season.

    Missed tackles, something seen in the first scrimage, carried over from last years first scrimage.

    I am a suporter of IU football, however I don’t want to heat excuses from the coaching staff, like it is “first scrimage, or it is spring practice” so this is to be expected. Next thing we will see is missed tackles and fumbles in the opening game this year and hear “it’s the first game of the year, it is to be expected”. I hope that the “to be expected” attitude is not what this team gets put in their heads.

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