An afternoon in the sun

I’ve got the onerous duty this afternoon of sitting in Memorial Stadium to watch football practice. It was supposed to rain this afternoon, I thought, but right now it’s sunny and feels like it’s about 70.

Starting left tackle Rodger Saffold is in uniform and practicing for the first time this spring, which is a big addition to Indiana’s badly banged up o-line.

Free safety Nick Polk is also back in action today. Polk missed the first few practices with a hamstring strain and was held out of Saturday’s scrimmage as a precaution.

Some random observations in watching drills:

  • Chris Phillips, IU’s only experience cornerback, is having a good practice. He’s prevented a couple of completions by being all over a receiver downfield and just picked off Ben Chappell.
  • Matt Ernest, who looked so good in practice as a true freshman last year, has struggled the last few days. He’s dropped three or four passes that I’ve seen. He currently is working with both the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses.
  • The absence of James Hardy, Andrew Means and James Bailey at WR is very apparent in watching IU’s offense practice. We’re seeing more drops and fewer big plays.
  • Bill Lynch just yelled at the team for not running fast enough in a kickoff coverage drill designed to practice avoiding blockers downfield. “This is not a walk-through,” he hollered. “Pick it up!” They’re running faster now.
  • Chappell just hit a well-covered Ernest with a pass on the right sideline, but Ernest fumbled it out of bounds.
  • Chris Banks, who has looked better than last year when his hands were shaky, just made one of the most spectacular catches of the spring so far. He dove over a defender, CB Donnell Jones, to catch a 20-yard pass from Mitchell Evans that had both the offense and defense applauding.
  • Chappell continues to be very accurate with his passes. He isn’t going downfield often, but he is right on target.

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