Weekend scrimmage a start for Allen, Hoosiers

Tom Allen didn’t see everything he needed to see.

But for the first scrimmage of fall camp, the Indiana coach gained some valuable takeaways.

During Sunday’s closed scrimmage at Memorial Stadium, Allen saw his offense convert in the red zone. He also saw it struggle with consistency. Allen saw some freshmen start to surface on defense. He also saw a need for more reliable depth.

And, while Allen didn’t provide specifics, he witnessed a quarterback competition that reinforced some of the qualities evident through the first week of practice.

“Being the first scrimmage, they’re not gonna have it perfect,” Allen said Monday. “But I thought both sides of the ball’s effort was really, really high and the execution was good.”

Allen said the scrimmage, which was closed to the public and media, ran upwards of 140 snaps, allowing him to evaluate a range of players battling for spots on the two-deep.

Quarterback, of course, remains one of the primary focuses of camp. Allen shied away from declaring that any separation occurred Sunday between Peyton Ramsey, Brandon Dawkins and Michael Penix, but he did say that all three quarterbacks highlighted their strengths.

That would seem to mean that Ramsey continued to demonstrate the best feel and poise, that Penix showed off the best arm and Dawkins demonstrated an ability to challenge defenders on the ground.

“As they played in the first week, I think their strengths were their strengths as well on (Sunday),” Allen said. “I think that you got three guys that all have ability and all have things that they do well. I thought each of them, their strengths showed out at the scrimmage. That’s probably the best way to say it. The next scrimmage (this upcoming weekend), to me, we’re going to have to make some decisions after that going into Week 3.”

Elsewhere, both the offense and the defense had their moments.

Particularly the defense, where Allen was pleased to note the emergence of freshmen linebackers Micah McFadden and James Miller. The two newcomers are currently splitting time in practice learning both the Stinger and Mike linebacker spots.

“They can both learn both positions, and (we’ll) give each of them a week at those spots,” Allen said. “Probably going to invert those guys, really for the purpose of depth and just overall knowledge. … Once it got to full bore live, those guys stuck out, which is what you want to see. I thought that was a really, really good sign.”

Building adequate defensive depth is as important to Allen as finding a quarterback. The second-year coach has maintained for months that one of the keys to finishing games comes down to getting backups to the point where they can perform well enough to give starters a rest.

The scrimmage was evidence that such a mission remains a work in progress.

“The biggest thing we need to work on is the execution of our 2s on defense,” Allen said. “We’re talking about wanting to play a lot of guys, and I’ve said that from the beginning. So those guys have got to be able to execute at a high level.

“One thing you run into, which is typical, is a No. 1 who’s hurt. We had a couple of those that weren’t in there, so now the 2s are (made up of 3s). But that’s it. They’re one snap away from being a No. 2. I really want a defense that we can rotate a lot of guys in. In order to do that, they all have to execute well.”

Allen is also looking for consistent execution in the race for the starting placekicker job.

That competition has boiled down to scholarship freshman Charles Campbell and walk-on junior Logan Justus. Another walk-on, Jared Smolar, is in the running for kickoff duties.

“We’re charting every kick,” Allen said. “We’re trying to apply pressure. We created some (pressure) situations today, and we want to see somebody separate themselves there, too.”

For Allen, perhaps the best news to come from the scrimmage was a mostly clean injury report.

“Just the typical,” he said. “More soft-tissue than anything. Some shoulders. Hamstrings. You get ankles. But that part’s been good. Soon we’ll know more about a couple of guys who haven’t been out here recently, but nothing seems to be long-term, which is a good sign.”

One comment

  1. It sounds like IU had a typical first scrimmage but that is good as it lets players shine that play better in game situations. The best news was the injury or lack of injury situation coming out of the scrimmage. With 140 plays many players got a good number of reps and coaches got a good film to evaluate how each player performed.

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