Notes from first day of spring practice

There’s only so much a coach can tell about his team in the first day of spring practice. Players wear helmets, but no pads and therefore just about everything has to be taken with a grain of salt.

“We’re in underwear out there,” rising senior Larry Black Jr. said, obviously exaggerating because they are really in jerseys and shorts.

“Even when you practice, you practice full-go up,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said, referring to the likelihood that the Hoosiers wouldn’t tackle to the ground even when they are wearing full pads. “Because you’ve gotta stay healthy. You’re trying to be smart in your practice deals. But did you truly make that block? Did you truly make that tackle?”

But, Wilson said, there is an encouraging difference in the level of buy-in and the level of comfort with the system this year. More than 30 players, including more than a dozen on scholarship, left the program last season, but it’s obvious that the ones that stayed want to be with the program.

“Everybody’s just a lot more hungry,” rising junior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said. “With last year and our last season, I think that a lot of people might not have known how everything was going to go with a new coach and stuff like that. but now, no one’s really a freshman any more. There’s no more excuses. … I think (last year) a lot of guys were just uncomfortable with their coaches, uncomfortable with the way we were doing things. No one was really sure of what was expected. Now, all of the questions have been answered and we’re just kind of rolling with it.”

There has been some degree of change in the program this offseason, but not nearly as much. There were some key departures due to graduation, key additions with six junior college players, and the Hoosiers brought in a new offensive coordinator in Seth Littrell and a new defensive ends coach in Jon Fabris.

Wilson and Hughes, however, said that Littrell’s addition will not change the offense that much.It appears he will be working with the wide receivers now that Kevin Johns is moving to coach the quarterbacks.

“If anything little differences, but nothing that’s very major at all,” Hughes said.

Said Wilson: “There’s not significant change except maybe some of the emphasis on how you practice and some tweaks on how to run some routes and to get in sync with the timing of the quarterback.”

Other Notes from the first day:

— Senior defensive tackle Mick Mentzer has ended his football career and is taking a medical hardship because of a knee injury and a lower back injury.

“It was degenerative with a combination of the knee and the back,” Wilson said. “… He’s playing a position where you throw your body around a lot and get beat up. The body just wasn’t holding up for him.

— Walk-on quarterback Nolan Dieter decided to leave the program on Friday night, which leaves the Hoosiers with just two quarterbacks in spring practice in incumbent starter Tre Roberson and junior college transfer Cameron Coffman. It’s a double-edged sword, obviously, because there is a concern about overworking their arms, but it also allows both to get extensive reps and for the other offensive players to get a comfort level with both. The Hoosiers will add a third quarterback in the fall in incoming freshman Nathan Sudfeld who is expected to battle both for the job.

— Rising junior wide receiver Duwyce Wilson and redshirt freshman offensive lineman David Kaminski will both be held out for the entirety of spring practice after suffering ACL tears in November, though both are lifting and running. Wilson said he expects both to be cleared around June 1. Guard Ralston Evans, tight end Charles Love III and kicker Nick Freeland will have limited roles after knee injuries. Rising sophomore tailback Matt Perez has a “disc issue in his back,” Wilson said, and the coach hopes to have him back in camp in 2-3 weeks.

13 comments

  1. Great that you are jumping on football coverage right away. Hope we see it frequently and in depth. It would be great to ask Coach Wilson the areas he thinks IU coaches must review and possibly revise their approach given the returning players, the ‘lessons learned’ from last season practices and outcomes and their goals for 2012.

    One question I do not have clear in my mind is why so many (bloggers and media people) are so quick to ‘predict’ a change at QB where it was very apparent to me that Tre Roberson did an excellent job and made Indiana much more multidimensional because of his running skills and vision/decision making. Is it fair to describe his passing as ‘questionable'(as has been the case in describing them at various times in the coverage) and suggest Coach Wilson is looking to his additions to establish a passing game? Would it not be true that the Hoosiers were a good offensive team that moved the ball efficiently but whose defense was so poor it simply could not keep up?

    There was a lot of discussion on the reasons (other than personnel) for the incompetence of the defense. Are you able to ask Coach Wilson not only as to whether he has given thought to this, what he feels he needs to change conceptually, whether he feels he is better equipped (personnel wise) and tactically.

    And finally, there was a lot of discussion last fall about proper technique especially in pass coverage and tackling. Specifically a discussion as to whether you turn your head to find the ball or not, allow the catch and try to loosen the ball or attempt to intercept/deflect (to use a TC term) to defend against the pass. There seemed to be disagreement on this issue even among the coaches. Have there been active discussions about these issues and dilemmas in and within the staff, any thoughts from Coach Wilson (or his coordinators and assistants) on basic defenses and resolving some of these issues.

    And, a last one (just thought of it). It would be good to hear where Coach Wilson has noticed the biggest improvement from his initial (and optimistic) view of the Hoosiers last year and which areas he is still very concerned about remaining as critical areas for IU in 2012.

    I would love to see in depth and analytical coverage that gives us fans/aficionados/bloggers more insight and ‘meat’ as we move along. Thanks for your prompt and hopefully deep coverage as we move on with the program.

  2. Dustin
    Why do you say Littrell will be working with the wr’s ? He is listed as the te/fb coach and Johns the qb/wr coach. Did you see something in practice to suggest this rather than the assignments as announced?
    To echo the above point it would be nice to devote attention/focus on spring ball with so many points of interest many as highlighted above. My gut says the paper won’t until basketball is over and that would be a shame

  3. Wow. What perfect timing to transition from the singular to the collective. Recently having his attention directed to a piece containing a descriptive as “worst defensive in Division 1,” Dustin immediately thinks of Hoosier football.

  4. Harvard,
    Hehehe. Nah, this just happened to be Day 1. Charles, at practice, Johns and Littrell seemed to be working together when it came to wide receiver drills, and Littrell seemed to be working more with the receivers. Could be wrong there.
    And yeah, Charles, your gut is right. I’m going to make it to spring ball when I can, and Andy will be there when he isn’t covering high school games, but the fact remains that basketball is the priority, and, considering that we’re talking about the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament as well as high school playoffs compared to football practice, well, it’s kind of a no-brainer that basketball has to get the focus for now. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to blow it off completely. We were there today, and we’ll be there every day there isn’t a conflict. I’ve never blown off a spring practice before and I don’t intend to now.
    Tsao, I’m not necessarily predicting a change, but I think it’s pretty obvious that Tre wasn’t a guy who threw the deep ball a lot. Wilson has suggested he’d like to throw more and he picked up two dropback passers. Roberson could still easily win the job. He was obviously very effective last year down the stretch. But I think it’s obvious that this is a very open competition is and Roberson’s incumbency is not equivalent to, say, Chappell’s in terms of level of job security. I don’t think Roberson is at a disadvantage, but I think he’s in an open competition.

  5. I wouldn’t read that into it Harvard. First, it is Spring Football season time and second, Dustin is the assigned ‘beat writer’ on football. His Hoosier Scoop assignment gives him the freedom to choose topics there,and he chooses to write quite a bit about basketball during the ‘off-season’. The kid with the hair is the ‘basketball beat writer’.

    But then, I don’t think that’s what you meant,…more along the lines of Brit sarcasm. Perhaps the reaction to some of the criticism (often posted) of our defense from our guards, particularly about Hulls and with which you voice your disagreement.

  6. Delighted that football coverage springs back to life with spring practice. H for H, glad you’re back, too. Any normal person would associate “worst defense in Divison 1” with IU. At least I would; I’ll leave it to others to judge how “normal” I am. Tsao, political animal that you are, I see that you can’t resist asking for the detailed skinny. Keep it up.

    I hope all of the regulars here are around for a looooooooong time. I mean years. My project is to compare the new coaching hires in the Big Ten at Ill., Minn., and IU over the next decade or so (if they all last that long). As I’ve pointed out, Ill. and Minn. hired successful MAC level head coaches (all about the same age as Wilson), but IU went with an assistant from a very successful major program. Stay tuned . . . .

  7. Not quite true, Tsao. I’m actually the beat writer for both. He’s the basketball columnist and Andy’s the football columnist. Hence the more opinionated nature and such. Anyway, like I said, there will continue to be a football presence during the tournament but I won’t be there for everything.

  8. Coach is a former OC who has a comfort level with tall, canon-armed drop back passers. I expect that’s what we will see in all our future QB recruits. Tre may be the guy but he’s not what Coach Wilson would like to see out there.

  9. Corrected as noted Dustin. I would like to add that as much as I follow the basketball Hoosiers and celebrate their success I would like to see solid coverage of spring football with some consistency. Many readers like me are counting on the HT’s coverage of football along with the Hoosiers basketball journey through the Big 10 and the NCAA.

  10. Last season at some point Wright-Baker and Kiel got hurt. Wilson had Follett and Schell, but decided to forgo playing those two and went with Roberson.

    This year its just Roberson and Coffman. Don’t know about the rest of you but that scares me. Roberson is in the mold of W-B and Kiel in that he is a dual threat QB. This makes him more of a target when he decides to tuck and run. If Roberson goes down it’ll be just Coffman and a yet undetermined player (either a walk-on type or a position switch).

    Am I the only one who sees this as a concern?

  11. Waiting….there is a freshman coming on with very good credentials. W-B and Kiel took themselves out of the picture when challenged. And…not much we can do about it at this point…you’ll need to love what we have.

  12. As TTG alluded that our QB situation will be OK, not All-American but OK. Any injury will hurt but there is sufficient depth.

    Competing QB’s

    Roberson
    Coffman(JUCO sophomore)Lead JUCO team to NC game 2011
    Nate Sudfeld(freshman)talented #14 QB in the country
    Emergency options
    Levi Beckett(sophomore WR walk-on)HS QB
    Kofi Hughes(Jr. wide out)HS QB

Comments are closed.