Recapping Indiana's spring game


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Indiana's spring practice session came to a close Saturday with the annual Cream & Crimson Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. The Crimson squad, made up mainly of the first-team defense and second-team offense, outlasted the Cream team 28-27 after Trea Burgess was stopped short on a 2-point conversion try.

After a spring filled with changes for the Hoosiers' offense, the unit had mixed results in the spring game.

Starting quarterback Ben Chappell reportedly struggled to find a rhythm, particularly on deep passes, and the Cream team offense didn't do much until the fourth quarter. Chappell still finished the day with decent numbers (14-for-22, 205 yards, two touchdowns).

The best news came at the running back spot, as Burgess, Demetrius McCray and Darius Willis combined for 256 rush yards and four touchdowns on only 33 carries in the spring game. Burgess, who had a solid spring, could be closing in on the starting running back spot, while Willis, a stud recruit who battled injuries for much of the spring, rushed for 80 yards on 13 carries and scored on a 17-yard burst.

Another running back, senior Bryan Payton, took a swing pass from Chappell and raced 46 yards for a touchdown with 43 seconds left in the game.

"We're trying to run more power football," Indiana coach Bill Lynch told reporters. "That's what it comes down to. It's going downhill. We've got our offensive linemen in a three-point stance and we're coming off the ball."

The offense's up-and-down day indicates better things are ahead for a Hoosiers defense that ranked last in the Big Ten in most meaningful categories last fall.

Other notes from Indiana's spring game:

  • Converted quarterback Kellen Lewis led the Cream team with five receptions (52 yards), while Tandon Doss led the squad in receiving yards with 61. Damarlo Belcher also turned in a decent performance. Expect to see Lewis, Doss and Belcher as the starting wideouts this fall.

  • Defensive tackle will be a position to watch going forward, and reserve Larry Black Jr. stepped up in the spring game with six tackles and a game-high two sacks. Converted offensive lineman Jarrod Smith also had a sack for the Crimson team.

  • Injuries continue to gnaw at Indiana's offensive line, which had only 10 healthy bodies for the game. The defensive line also was missing several key players, namely end Jammie Kirlew and tackle Deonte Mack.

  • The defense finished the spring strong, as linebacker Matt Mayberry and cornerback Chris Adkins led the way with eight tackles each. Safety Kyle Dietrick intercepted third-string quarterback Adam Follett for the game's lone turnover. Seven different defenders recorded sacks.

  • Indiana can feel a bit better about its quarterback depth after the spring game, as backup Teddy Schell completed 9 of 11 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

  • More of an overall comment here, but I definitely noticed a different attitude from Indiana's players this spring after going 3-9 in 2008. Time will tell if this historically poor program can get on track again, but there's definitely a renewed sense of urgency among players like Lewis, Mayberry and defensive end Greg Middleton. The Hoosiers might just surprise some people this fall.