Big Ten: Chris Adkins
- Nebraska adds a "doormat, a giant-killer, a former coordinator's homecoming and an upstart" to its future schedules, Jon Nyatawa writes. Bill Belichick will be the featured speaker at Nebraska's spring coaches' clinic.
- Just because Penn State players can now wear facial hair doesn't mean they'll lack discipline, Stephanie Loh writes. Lions quarterback Matthew McGloin is excited about Billy Ball. Penn State's recruiting might have to be focused east of Pittsburgh because of Ohio State's and Michigan's dominance.
- Some playoff thoughts from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany at the recent commissioners' meeting.
- Everything you know about the man likely to be named Iowa's next offensive coordinator. Plenty of Iowa-related content from the NFL combine.
- Michigan's Mike Martin was the Big Ten's strongest player in 2011, at least according to Iowa's Adam Gettis.
- Everything you need to know about Michigan State's combine contingent.
- Ohio State NFL hopefuls Mike Adams and Mike Brewster took different paths during their Buckeyes' careers. Bob Hunter writes that Ohio State is halting the practice of retiring numbers for star players.
- When Illinois' Derek Dimke started kicking, he never thought he'd end up at the NFL combine.
- Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson are among the quarterbacks headed to Gruden Camp.
- Minnesota's NFL hopeful Da'Jon McKnight gets some advice from a friend in the NBA.
- A good piece on Northwestern's attempt to win over the city of Chicago.
- Despite no invites to the combine, Purdue's Joe Holland and Indiana's Chris Adkins are still pursuing pro dreams.
- Indiana is getting stronger during the winter months (subscription required).
Some other notes:
- Two likely starters, wide receiver Duwyce Wilson and tight end Ted Bolser, aren't listed on the depth chart. Both have been battling injuries during camp. Senior Dre Muhammad is listed as the starter in Wilson's spot ahead of freshman Shane Wynn, while senior Max Dedmond will start at tight end.
- Redshirt freshman Matt Perez, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, is listed as the No. 1 running back ahead of Stephen Houston. Junior Darius Willis is suspended for the opener for conduct detrimental to the team.
- Redshirt freshman Ryan Phillis is listed as a starter at defensive end ahead of veteran Fred Jones. He'll play opposite Darius Johnson. Indiana seems to have some good depth at the defensive tackle position.
- Another redshirt freshman, Chase Hoobler, has secured a starting job for the opener at strong-side linebacker. He'll join senior linebackers Jeff Thomas and Leon Beckum in the starting lineup.
- No major surprises in the starting secondary as sophomores Lawrence Barnett and Greg Heban are listed as the top corners and fifth-year seniors Chris Adkins and Jarrell Drane are listed as the No. 1 safeties.
- Wynn and Perez are listed as the top kick returners, as Indiana must replace the dynamic Tandon Doss on special teams.
Some interesting stuff here. Youth will be served this season in Bloomington as 14 true freshmen or redshirt freshmen appear on the depth chart.
- Northwestern coaches are very impressed with center Ben Vitabile -- so impressed that they moved veteran Ben Burkett to a new position.
- Nebraska tight end Kyler Reed is hoping to build on his tremendous 2010 season. Austin Cassidy can teach Bronson Marsh a thing or two about moving from quarterback to safety.
- A weekend scrimmage revealed some Michigan State flaws. Here are some Spartans practice notes, including Mark Dantonio's charge for more conditioning for his top players.
- Speaking of conditioning, Michigan's strength coach is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. Someone thinks Michigan will win nine or 10 games this year -- and that someone is Rich Rodriguez.
- The long wait is over for Ohio State linebacker Etienne Sabino, and he's "starving" to get some action. Some young Buckeyes receivers are starting to catch on, and they will be needed.
- Indiana's Chris Adkins has happily moved to safety for his final college season.
- Purdue's Danny Hope doesn't belong on the hot seat list, Bob Kravitz writes.
- Wisconsin quarterback Joe Brennan is finally showing some signs of life, and the Badgers may need him if Jon Budmayr is hurt. Ryan Groy is stepping up in the wake of an injury to Kevin Zeitler on the offensive line.
- Illinois has unearthed some fine players from down south. Monday's Camp Rantoul report is here.
- Former Hawkeyes running back Adam Robinson is transferring to Minnesota-Duluth. Here's a podcast breaking down Iowa's scrimmage from the weekend and other issues.
- True freshman Max Shortell looks like Minnesota's No. 2 quarterback. Anthony Jacobs is taking on a switch from defensive end to tackle despite having more career sacks than any other Gopher.
- Penn State recruit Tommy Schutt has built a big reputation. Receiver Curtis Drake continues to insist he'll be ready for the season -- maybe Week 2 against Alabama.
- RB Darius Willis, knee (out for season)
- OL Josh Hager, knee (out for season)
- S Chris Adkins, ankle
- OT James Brewer, ankle
- CB Richard Council, knee
- K Nick Freeland, hip
- S Lenyatta Kiles, groin
- RB Nick Turner, concussion
The two areas of concern are the secondary and the offensive line. Indiana's injuries in the secondary aren't new, but the Hoosiers have to find ways to limit big pass plays without Adkins, Council and Kiles on the field. An arguably bigger issue is offensive line depth, as protecting star quarterback Ben Chappell will be paramount in the final six games. Brewer's continued absence hurts, and Hager's season-ending injury means sophomore Marc Damisch gets the nod as the starting right tackle against a good Illinois defensive line. Turner's absence places a bigger burden on Trea Burgess as Indiana's featured running back.
- Senior quarterback Ben Chappell is really, really good
- So are his wide receivers, namely Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss
- The defense still has a long way to go and a lot of holes
- The schedule has been favorable
That's about it. Indiana has won the games it was supposed to (Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State) and lost the games it entered as an underdog (Michigan, Ohio State).
We might know less about Indiana than any Big Ten team to this point in the season. But the waiting game ends Saturday at Illinois' Memorial Stadium.
At the start of the fourth quarter, to be exact.
The Hoosiers showed last fall that they could compete in Big Ten games. They simply couldn't finish them off.
Indiana was outscored 88-45 in the fourth quarters of its seven Big Ten losses last year. The Hoosiers were blanked by a combined count of 38-0 in losses to Iowa and Northwestern, games in which they built big leads but collapsed late.
The trend continued this fall in the Big Ten opener against Michigan, which outscored Indiana 21-14 in the second half. The Wolverines scored the winning touchdown with 17 seconds left.
"They finished better than we did," IU coach Bill Lynch said. "There's not any magic to it, and it's not, 'If we do this, this will happen.' We have to play good, sound football."
Lynch knows what to expect from Chappell and the offense, but Indiana's Big Ten fortunes likely rest with the nation's 89th-rated defense (400.7 ypg).
The Hoosiers have been a bit banged up in the secondary -- Chris Adkins and Richard Council remain out with injuries -- and the pass rush has yet to emerge (Indiana ranks 102nd in sacks and 104th in tackles for loss). Lynch's primary focus is cutting down the big plays, which really hurt Indiana down the stretch in 2009 and showed up against Denard Robinson and Michigan on Oct. 2.
"We gave up way too many big plays against Michigan and Ohio State," Lynch said. "We did a better job last week of that, but we have to carry that over once we get back in conference play."
- Wisconsin starting linebacker Mike Taylor is expected to play Saturday at No. 15 Iowa after injuring his ankle and knee against Ohio State. Badgers coach Bret Bielema said Taylor underwent X-rays that showed no structural damage after he rolled his ankle and hyperextended his knee. Defensive tackle Jordan Kohout (foot) and tight end Lance Kendricks also should be fine for the trip to Iowa.
- Indiana expects running backs Trea Burgess, Nick Turner and Antonio Banks to be ready for this week's trip to Illinois, but the news along the offensive line isn't so good. Coach Bill Lynch said starting right tackle James Brewer (ankle) likely will miss another week, and reserve Josh Hager also likely is out, putting sophomore Marc Damisch in the starting role. Depth also could be an issue up front, as Dustin Dopirak writes. Defensive backs Richard Council and Chris Adkins remain out.
- Northwestern defensive end Vince Browne participated in Monday's practice and will play Saturday against No. 7 Michigan State, coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
- Michigan's bye week comes at a good time, as quarterback Denard Robinson (shoulder) and others have time to heal. Coach Rich Rodriguez said Robinson, who dealt with shoulder soreness last week in practice, "should be fine" for the Penn State game on Oct. 30. Center David Molk, defensive tackle Mike Martin and running back Michael Shaw also should be fine for Penn State.
- Middle linebacker Jeff Tarpinian (stinger) once again isn't listed on Iowa's depth chart. Troy Johnson is pegged to start against Wisconsin with James Morris backing him up.
- S Chris Adkins, ankle
- K Nick Freeland, hip
- S Donnell Jones, knee
The big name missing is senior linebacker Tyler Replogle, who will return after missing last week's win against Akron with a concussion. Indiana needs a big performance from Replogle as it tries to improve its shaky run defense against the nation's leading rusher (Michigan QB Denard Robinson). Redshirt freshman Mitch Ewald will handle the kicking duties in Freeland's absence.
MICHIGAN (vs. Massachusetts)
- OL John Ferrara, hand
- LB Brandon Herron, ankle
- LB/S Carvin Johnson, knee
- LB Mike Jones, leg
- S Jared Van Slyke, clavicle (out for season)
- S Mike Williams, head
- CB Troy Woolfolk, ankle
- WR Junior Hemingway, hamstring
- S Marvin Robinson, shoulder
- RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, knee
- S Chris Adkins, ankle
- S Jarrell Drane, knee
- K Nick Freeland, hip
- DE Darius Johnson, hamstring
- RB Matt Perez, knee (ACL, out for season)
Did I mention heat?
The one element Indiana's coaches decided to scale back, however, was full-blown tackling. Indiana had its share of contact drills, but you didn't see nearly as many players taken to the turf.
"We stayed up as much as we possibly could, a lot of thud practice, tried to control some of the full scrimmaging," head coach Bill Lynch explained. "We've done some pretty extensive studies here, and a lot of injuries that kept guys out of games occurred in practice and particularly preseason practice.
"So we took a little different approach, but we think we're very prepared to play a game."
The strategy makes sense after watching Indiana the last few seasons. The Hoosiers' first-string players on offense and defense typically can hold their own against most if not every team in the Big Ten. But there has been a noticeable drop-off after the starters.
You could see it last fall in the Iowa game, which took place on Oct. 31. The Hoosiers were thin in the secondary and played most of the game without starters Nick Polk and Ray Fisher. The absences caught up to IU in the fourth quarter as Iowa broke open the game with big pass plays.
"We looked at our woes in the month of November and what could be the cause of those woes," co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic said. "We were either worn down or not having our starters in November. So it's knowing what's happened in the past and doing something a little bit different."
Palcic said Indiana tried to model its practice after those in the NFL, where the speed and intensity remains high even though there's less tackling to the ground. Indiana did hold two full-contact scrimmages, and not surprisingly, three players ended up going down and needing surgery, including cornerback Chris Adkins (ankle).
Coaches often struggle with determining how much contact to have in the preseason. Northwestern had a bunch of injuries last summer and backed off, only to pay the price early in the season with several poor tackling performances.
Can Indiana's strategy still prepare players for a season where opponents never will back off?
"You never really know until you play, but we tried to get our guys legs back underneath them," Lynch said. "It's always a grind no matter what you do in terms of the physical part. Football's a different kind of game, and you have to do different things that you really can't simulate in offseason conditioning. So that part always wears on your body.
"I think what we're doing is the right approach for us, and we'll see once we get into the season."
- Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel is one of them, and he makes a very convincing case why the Ohio State-Michigan game should stay put.
The game is the game because they don't play twice a year. You get one crack and that's it. It can make or break the season. Careers, both playing and coaching, are defined by it because the lack of a rematch raises the stakes. The single game increases the urgency of the present. Then the location on hallowed grounds -- either the glorious Horseshoe or the brilliant Big House, not some corporate event at Lucas Oil Stadium -- adds the perspective of the past. As such, the nature of the rivalry should be protected at all costs.
- Two L.A.-based screenwriters on opposite sides of the rivalry also are doing their part, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News.
- The Big Ten Network's Gerry DiNardo forecasts a big year for the league, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- After suffering a concussion in a recent practice, Wisconsin safety Jay Valai realized the tough guy routine wasn't worth it, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Injuries have forced Wisconsin to shuffle its offensive line, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Penn State running back Brandon Beachum will redshirt this fall as he's still recovering from a torn ACL, Matt Fortuna writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It's in Joe Paterno's best interests to step aside soon, as he might not make it through the season, Ron Cook writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Northwestern finishes training camp at the U.S. Navy's boot camp, ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers writes. The team's practice at Naval Station Great Lakes hits home for C.J. Bryant and other Wildcats players, Tina Akouris writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Indiana's already-thin secondary suffers a big loss, as cornerback Chris Adkins will miss part of the season with an ankle injury, Dustin Dopirak writes in The (Bloomington) Herald-Times (subscription required).
- Michigan State has some big shoes to fill after losing All-Big Ten kicker Brett Swenson, Matt Charboneau writes in The Detroit News.
- Purdue coach Danny Hope feels a bit better about some of his team's big question marks after camp, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Running back Brandon Wegher is enrolled at classes at Iowa but still not practicing, Andrew Logue writes in the Des Moines Register.
- Better health could give Mike Adams the edge for Ohio State's starting left tackle spot, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Michigan defensive backs coach Tony Gibson has a tough job between now and Sept. 4, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Minnesota hopes to cut down on penalties by simplifying its signals for plays, Phil Miller writes in the Star Tribune.
I'll do my best with Michigan's scrimmage, which oddly was open to fans but not media.
The Illini broke camp in Rantoul, Ill., and scrimmaged Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Check out what happened here and here and here and here.
- Illinois' coaches can talk all they want about running back by committee, but it's clear that junior Mikel Leshoure is the team's top option. As he did throughout the second half of last season, Leshoure showcased his big-play ability Saturday with a 49-yard touchdown run. Leshoure finished with 102 rush yards and two scores on only 12 carries. Jason Ford also had a nice day Saturday, but Leshoure is the guy to watch out for this fall.
- After struggling in the first camp scrimmage, Illinois' first-team defense rebounded nicely Saturday. According to Mark Tupper, the first-team defense allowed only 59 net yards in 41 plays in the scrimmage. Defensive end Michael Buchanan and linebacker Martez Wilson were among the standouts.
- Although starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had a shaky day, Illinois might have found another capable wide receiver in Eddie McGee, the team's former backup quarterback. McGee beat cornerback Miami Thomas on a jump ball in the end zone to record a touchdown and finished with three receptions for 56 yards.
The Hoosiers held a 96-play Saturday at Memorial Stadium, and you can read all about it here, here (subscription required) and here.
- Redshirt freshman Dusty Kiel has established himself as the team's backup quarterback in camp. Kiel, who has been competing with Edward Wright-Baker, had an excellent scrimmage, completing 14 of 16 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
- Indiana used the scrimmage to assess its offensive line depth and limited the participation for sure-fire starters like center Will Matte and right tackle James Brewer. Coach Bill Lynch wanted to get a better read on his backup center and had Jordan Marquette, Chris Ahlfeld and Steve Fiacable take reps in the scrimmage. Ted Bolser stepped up nicely at tight end with five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.
- The Hoosiers' already-shaky secondary suffered a blow as safety Chris Adkins had to be carried off the field because of an ankle injury. The extent of Adkins' injury is unclear at this point.
Michigan held a scrimmage Saturday at Michigan Stadium. It was open to some fans but not media, and while I love fan reports, I'm relying mostly on this video from the school's official website.
- I really like what I've seen from freshman running back Stephen Hopkins, both in Saturday's scrimmage and during the Big Ten Network's tour stop. He gives the Wolverines a different look in the backfield at 6-foot, 227 pounds. Michigan boasts plenty of speed backs, but Hopkins provides the type of downhill, between-the-tackles running you need in the Big Ten.
- Quarterback Denard Robinson looked pretty smooth in the scrimmage video, both as a passer and a runner. He hit his receivers in stride and broke off a long touchdown run, juking safety Jared Van Slyke before reaching the end zone. All signs continue to point toward Robinson being named the starter, but we'll see.
The Spartans held a 130-play controlled scrimmage Saturday at Spartan Stadium, closed to the media. The defense prevailed 45-32 as the team used a modified scoring system. Recaps can be found here and here.
- It was a good day for the defense and a great day for the linebackers, who should be Michigan State's strongest unit this fall. Eric Gordon recorded a scrimmage-best nine tackles, while Greg Jones added eight, including two for loss. Jon Misch had 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry, and Chris Norman had six tackles and a pass breakup. "The linebackers were very active," coach Mark Dantonio said.
- Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham is having a very strong camp, and he continued it Saturday with five receptions for 67 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown from Kirk Cousins. Cousins and Cunningham hooked up for two touchdowns in the team's first fall scrimmage. It's a pretty crowded mix at receiver, but Cunningham has put himself in a great position.
Minnesota held an open scrimmage Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, and you can read all about it here, here and here.
- Minnesota's first-string offensive line stepped up nicely in the scrimmage, keeping quarterback Adam Weber safe and allowing him to complete 7 of 9 passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. There was, however, a significant drop-off when the second- and third-team offensive linemen entered the scrimmage. "I didn't feel like some of the [second and third team] took advantage of the opportunity to go play today," coach Tim Brewster told the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press.
- Freshman running back Donnell Kirkwood has put himself in the mix for carries this fall alongside Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge. Kirkwood had 19 carries in Saturday's scrimmage with a long run of 14 yards. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton praised Kirkwood when we talked a few weeks ago.
- MarQueis Gray is still getting reps as a reserve quarterback, but it's coming clear his primary role this fall will be at wide receiver, as long as Weber stays healthy. Gray seems to be embracing the change, and his big frame could really help the Gophers after the loss of Eric Decker. "I am pretty sure I can find a hole somewhere to catch the ball and get upfield for Weber when he throws it to me," he told the Star Tribune.
The Wildcats ended their off-campus training in Kenosha, Wis., with an open scrimmage. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald held out a large group of starters on both sides, so second- and third-teamers got most of the work. Recaps can be found here and here.
- Freshman receiver Venric Mark will make an immediate impact this fall, especially for Northwestern's middling return teams. Mark had an excellent scrimmage, recording a 28-yard touchdown catch and breaking off several big returns. Generously listed at 5-8 and 165 pounds, Mark also threw a block that helped classmate Adonis Smith reach the end zone.
- A battle could be brewing at backup quarterback. As starter Dan Persa watched from the sideline, true freshman Trevor Siemian completed 10 of 13 passes for 112 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Siemian could push redshirt freshman Evan Watkins, who completed only four of seven passes.
- Freshman defensive end Will Hampton could work his way into the rotation this fall. Hampton recorded a tackle for loss in the scrimmage.
Ohio State held its jersey scrimmage Saturday at Ohio Stadium, as the offense prevailed 54-48 after 130-140 plays. The scrimmage was open to the media, and you can find recaps here, here and here.
- Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a so-so day, although he wore a no-contact jersey and couldn't be the running threat he'll be after Sept. 4. Pryor completed only 10 of 24 pass attempts but did fire a 25-yard touchdown strike to Taurian Washington, considered the front-runner for the No. 3 wide receiver spot. He also found tight end Jake Stoneburner for a 25-yard gain and nearly threw an interception in the end zone.
- Andrew Sweat appears to have a slight edge on Etienne Sabino for the third starting linebacker spot. Sabino entered camp as the favorite to start, but Sweat logged more time with the first-team defense Saturday and recovered a Brandon Saine fumble.
- Coach Jim Tressel said he hopes to get defensive end Nathan Williams (knee) back by the Sept. 2 opener against Marshall. Meanwhile, several young defensive linemen stood out Saturday. Redshirt freshman Adam Bellamy recorded three sacks and true freshman Johnathan Hankins added one.
The Badgers scrimmaged Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The session was open to the media, and you can read all about it here and here.
- Wisconsin's offense moved the ball decently but struggled to finish drives, as Antonio Fenelus picked off a Scott Tolzien pass and safety Aaron Henry broke up a pass in the end zone. It was a theme throughout the scrimmage. There's little doubt Wisconsin can control the clock and keep moving the chains with its balanced attack, but it must execute in the red zone.
- Freshman running back James White had a good day and could push Zach Brown for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. White had runs of 29, 26 and 22 yards, the last for a touchdown, in the scrimmage. Starting tailback John Clay, by the way, had 11 carries for 51 yards.
- Backup quarterback Jon Budmayr had a tough scrimmage, going 0-for-9 passing on his first three series with two near interceptions. He finished 9-for-27 for 107 yards for a touchdown and an interception. Wisconsin really can't lose Tolzien and would get a big boost if Curt Phillips can return from his knee injury early in the season.
There aren't many surprises on offense, as eight starters return from 2009. Junior Andrew McDonald appears as the starting left tackle, as Indiana must replace standout Rodger Saffold. Veteran Cody Faulkner is listed as the starting right guard ahead of freshman Aaron Price.
The defensive depth chart reveals a few more clues:
- Junior Darius Johnson and fifth-year senior Deonte Mack are listed as the first-team defensive ends. Several others will be in the mix, including Fred Jones, Eric Thomas and Terrance Thomas, who will miss spring ball with a shoulder injury. Mack boasts a good deal of experience at both line positions.
- Senior Tyler Replogle shifts to middle linebacker as IU must replace Matt Mayberry. Junior college transfer Jeff Thomas is listed as the backup there.
- Junior Leon Beckum and sophomore Chad Sherer are listed as the starters at the outside linebacker spots. Replogle started nine games at strongside linebacker in 2009.
- Adrian Burks and Matt Ernest will compete for a starting cornerback spot opposite Donnell Jones. Ernest will be limited this spring as he's pitching for Indiana's baseball team.
- Junior Chris Adkins is listed as the starter at free safety, while converted wide receiver Mitchell Evans is the starting strong safety ahead of Jerimy Finch. Evans will miss spring ball following hip surgery, so it will be interesting to see if Finch, a heralded transfer from Florida, can finally answer the bell.
- All-Big Ten wideout Tandon Doss will get a shot to fill Ray Fisher's spots on returns. Doss is listed as the starter for both punt and kickoff returns.
- Head coach Bill Lynch said today that Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel will compete for time as the team's Wildcat quarterback, a role Evans filled well in 2009.
The Hoosiers begin spring practice stocked at the offensive skill positions, as quarterback Ben Chappell, All-Big Ten wide receiver Tandon Doss and others are back. Indiana's major concerns once again rest with a defense that loses seven starters.
Strongest position: Wide receiver/tight end
- Key returnees: Tandon Doss (77 receptions, 962 yards, 5 TDs); Damarlo Belcher (61 receptions, 770 yards, 5 TDs); Terrance Turner (46 receptions, 443 yards, 1 TD); Max Dedmond (18 receptions 141 yards, 1 TD).
- Key losses: Wideout Mitchell Evans (33 receptions, 366 yards, 3 TDs) moves to safety.
- The skinny: How loaded are the Hoosiers at receiver? Head coach Bill Lynch is moving two players, Evans and Matt Ernest, to the defensive side to help a beleaguered secondary. Doss earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media (second-team from the coaches) as a sophomore and has great potential to play at the next level. Belcher boasts great size and the ability to stretch the field, while Turner brings good experience to the group. Quarterback Ben Chappell will have no shortage of targets in 2010.
- Key returnees: Cornerback Donnell Jones (30 tackles, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups); cornerback Richard Council (22 tackles, 2 pass breakups); safety Chris Adkins (14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception).
- Key losses: Austin Thomas (67 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 pass breakups); Nick Polk (53 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 tackles for loss, 4 pass breakups); Ray Fisher (40 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 635 kickoff return yards and 2 TDs).
- The skinny: Indiana has concerns at other positions, namely linebacker and defensive end, but the secondary will be the coaches' top priority this spring. The Hoosiers lose three starters, including both safeties, and are rushing to fill the gaps. Bill Lynch signed two junior college cornerbacks (Andre Kates and Lenyatta Kiles) and moved both Evans and Ernest over from the offense. Evans, who played safety as a freshman in 2007, is expected to step into a leadership role in the secondary. I saw a decimated Indiana secondary face Iowa last year, and the Hawkeyes hit on several huge pass plays in the fourth quarter. IU must build depth in the back four to be able to survive injuries in 2010.
- DE Darius Johnson, shoulder
- DT Jarrod Smith, back
- CB Ray Fisher, knee
- S Jarrell Drane, thigh
- OL Cody Faulkner, shoulder
- CB Chris Adkins, elbow
- DE Terrance Thomas, shoulder
- LB Tyler Replogle, head
- S Austin Thomas, shoulder
- RB Darius Willis, ankle
- DT Mick Mentzer, back
The Hoosiers are very banged up in the secondary, as they'll be without their top cover man (Fisher) for the second consecutive game. Thomas is a starter who will be missed if he can't play, and safeties Nick Polk and Jerimy Finch also dealt with injuries in recent weeks. The Hoosiers need Adkins on the field against Penn State's big wide receivers. Willis, who leads Indiana with 465 rush yards and six touchdowns, has battled ankle problems throughout his career. Replogle ranks second on the team with 75 tackles. Redshirt freshman Chad Sherer is listed as Replogle's backup on this week's depth chart.
Indiana has issued its official injury report for Saturday's home game against No. 21 Wisconsin (Big Ten Network, noon ET).
- DE Darius Johnson, shoulder
- CB Chris Adkins, elbow
- DT Jarrod Smith, back
- CB Ray Fisher, knee
- S Jarrell Drane, thigh
- OL Cody Faulkner, shoulder
- DE Terrance Thomas, shoulder
- S Jerimy Finch, hamstring
- RB Zach Davis-Walker, foot
- S Nick Polk, ankle
- RB Darius Willis, ankle
- DE Fred Jones, foot
Fisher is a big loss for Indiana. He's the team's top cover corner and a very dangerous kick return man, leading the Big Ten and ranking fourth nationally in return average (37.4 yards per return). Wide receiver Tandon Doss and running back Demetrius McCray will handle return duties Saturday. The Hoosiers are thin at cornerback with Adkins out and Donnell Jones also battling an elbow injury. Adrian Burks will get the start in Fisher's spot, with Richard Council serving as his backup. The news is more promising on both Polk and Willis, two starters whom the Hoosiers will need to upset the Badgers. Polk sat out last week's game against Iowa and Indiana endured several critical breakdowns in the secondary down the stretch.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Purdue Illinois 12:00 PM ET 20 Ohio State Maryland 2:30 PM ET North Texas Indiana 3:30 PM ET 17 Wisconsin Northwestern 7:00 PM ET Michigan Rutgers 8:00 PM ET 19 Nebraska 10 Michigan State