Big Ten: Fred Jones

Big Ten lunchtime links

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
12:00
PM ET
If you ever plan on calling the cops on one of my guys again, you go ahead and get two barrels.

Q&A: Indiana coach Kevin Wilson

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
2:30
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After years as one of the nation's top assistants, Kevin Wilson will make his collegiate head-coaching debut Saturday night when Indiana faces Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium. But he's not getting wrapped up in the moment. Too much to do. Wilson has conducted his first preseason camp in Bloomington, evaluating positions and bringing his no-nonsense philosophy to a program that needs a jump-start.

[+] EnlargeKevin Wilson
AP Photo/Darron CummingsIndiana coach Kevin Wilson his happy with how his team has responded to the new coaching staff.
Wilson took some time Tuesday to discuss camp and the outlook for IU in 2011.

How do you feel the players have adjusted to you and your staff so far?

Kevin Wilson: We're gaining on it every day. We've made a lot of strides, with not just our physical conditioning level but in our schemes, how to practice, how to be upbeat, how to have some energy. We've yet to play and go through a season, so can we maintain that in good times and bad times? But they've done better than I would have hoped or thought they could have done. I'm very proud of our guys.

Are there examples where you see them understanding what you want?

KW: Just on a consistent basis, our effort's greater, our physicalness in practice is greater, our enthusiasm, the tone of the guys when they're talking. Our total body language and team attitude, they're embracing the structure, the discipline, the toughness and the work ethic that we believe good teams have. Not that we didn't have it before, but I like the way they're relating to our staff.

What are your realistic expectations for Saturday?

KW: We want to take care of the ball. It's easy early in the season to be off your mark and allow an opponent to beat you because you're playing sloppy football, so ball security is something that's been strongly emphasized and encouraged. I'd like to make sure we're not sloppy with a bunch of penalties, getting us behind chains or helping the opponent. Really like to see if we can tackle well, whether it be in the kicking game or on defense, and let the scores be what the scores can be. Taking care of the ball, being smart, tackling well, being physical. I never put a score or a stat or a number or how many yards on either side of the ball. I'd like to see our play show the values we've been trying to preach to our team.

You said you're probably going to play multiple quarterbacks. How do you see that going? Will you play two? Three?

KW: I don't know if we have a guy who has clearly separated [himself]. There will be a guy that goes out first and we'll decide that. They've all done pretty well, they've all got different strengths. It's not going to be like after the second drive we're putting a [new] guy in or at the start of the second quarter. We'll see as the week finishes which one goes out first and that guy's going to go out and be the starter. And even if he has some glitches, we'll play through that.

We don't expect a guy to be perfect and hit every pass, but also you can tell when a guy can handle the arena, the environment, handle the emotions. So if a guy's doing well, we'll let it play out. If he looks to be struggling, out of whack, and we need a little jump-start, we'll go with someone else. We're not trying to be coy. They've all done well, but the quarterback needs to be the greatest extension of the coaching staff and a guy we feel needs to play smart and handle the ball properly so he's giving our team the best chance.

(Read full post)

Indiana has released its depth chart for Saturday's season opener against Ball State. Not surprisingly, the chart includes co-starters at quarterback in Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. The sophomores have been competing for the job with true freshman Tre Roberson, who isn't listed on the two-deep.

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.

Big Ten lunchtime links

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
12:00
PM ET
I am the one who knocks!
  • Will Dan Persa be ready for the opener? Pat Fitzgerald now says Kain Colter is all but pulled even with Persa at quarterback.
Tonight, it begins.

The wait is over and we finally get to see Big Ten teams play games that count. As opening weekend begins a little early with three games tonight, here are 10 things to watch around the league.

1. Quarterback questions at Michigan, Penn State: Two of the league's traditional powers likely will be evaluating multiple quarterbacks in their openers. True freshman Robert Bolden was named a surprise starter for the Nittany Lions, but sophomores Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome also are likely to get some work. Denard Robinson could be poised to take control at Michigan, but head coach Rich Rodriguez expects to play more than one signal caller, so sophomore Tate Forcier and true freshman Devin Gardner likely will take some snaps in the spotlight. Penn State has to see what it has under center before a Week 2 trip to defending national champ Alabama.

[+] EnlargeRobert Marve
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesFormer Miami quarterback Robert Marve and his new team have a tough test in South Bend.
2. Opportunity knocks for Marve, Boilers: No team in the Big Ten has a better opportunity to make a national statement than Purdue. All eyes will be on South Bend -- really, when aren't they? -- as Notre Dame kicks off the Brian Kelly era, but Purdue can ruin the fun by upsetting the Fighting Irish. Quarterback Robert Marve has done all the right things in West Lafayette since transferring from Miami, and he boasts a big arm and plenty of weapons to attack a suspect Notre Dame secondary. Marve should flourish in the spread offense, so expect a strong debut. It might not matter, though, if Purdue can't upgrade its run defense and protect a new-look secondary from Dayne Crist and Michael Floyd.

3. Heisman push begins for Pryor, Clay: When we last saw Terrelle Pryor in a game, the Ohio State quarterback was at his best, winning Offensive MVP honors at the Rose Bowl. By all accounts, Pryor made strides during the offseason and said he has a greater grasp of the offense and what it takes to be a leader on the big stage. His accolades heading into the season -- Big Ten preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Heisman Trophy candidate -- are based largely on hype and potential, but Pryor finally gets a chance to produce some hard evidence against Marshall. Wisconsin running back John Clay has been largely overlooked in the preseason, but he also could help his Heisman candidacy with a strong debut at UNLV, which ranked 112th nationally in rush defense a year ago.

4. Mystery team makes debut in St. Louis: Who's the Big Ten's mystery team this season? Illinois. The Illini have new offensive and defensive schemes, a new starting quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase and plenty of unknowns on both sides of the ball. Missouri typically brings out the worst in Ron Zook's squad, and Illinois will need to show some resiliency in the Edward Jones Dome. Scheelhaase is young but skilled and athletic, and it'll be interesting to see how he handles the spotlight in an NFL stadium. Illinois' secondary faces Blaine Gabbert and Missouri's high-powered passing attack without two starters (safety Supo Sanni, cornerback Terry Hawthorne), so linebacker Martez Wilson and others need to step up.

5. Iowa's new-look offensive line: The Hawkeyes shouldn't have much trouble beating Eastern Illinois, although after last year's roller-coaster ride, you never know. The opener should give a new-look offensive line time to get comfortable and create holes for running back Adam Robinson. Iowa will start three new players up front -- right tackle Markus Zusevics, right guard Adam Gettis and center James Ferentz -- and needs to get comfortable before bigger tests the next two weeks against Iowa State and Arizona. Running back Jewel Hampton sits out because of a suspension, but Iowa really needs to get the run game going with Robinson and adequately protect quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

6. Spartans' secondary in spotlight: Most point to the secondary as Michigan State's biggest weakness in 2009, and for good reason. The Spartans ranked last in the Big Ten in pass yards allowed (267.6 ypg), allowed 11 more passing touchdowns (32 total) than any other Big Ten squad and recorded only six interceptions, the second-lowest total in the league. Several underperforming players are gone, and Michigan State hopes to be younger but better in the back four this fall. Cornerback Johnny Adams returns to the mix, and hopes are high for Trenton Robinson, Chris L. Rucker and others. The secondary needs to step up Saturday against Western Michigan, which loses standout quarterback Tim Hiller but returns top wideouts Robert Arnheim and Jordan White.

7. Line dance in the Volunteer State for Gophers, Wildcats: Both Minnesota and Northwestern boast veteran offensive lines that need to upgrade their run-blocking ability this fall. Minnesota ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing for the second straight year in 2009, while Northwestern finished eighth and had no big plays in the ground game. It'll be very interesting to see how both lines perform in what likely will be balmy weather in Tennessee. Minnesota opens Thursday night at Middle Tennessee, while Northwestern visits Vanderbilt in Nashville 48 hours later. Both squads have multiple backs competing for carries, but the performance of the two lines will go a long way toward showing what the upcoming season will hold.

8. Brock Mealer leads Michigan out of the tunnel: Doctors told Brock Mealer he'd never walk again after being paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident that killed his father and the girlfriend of his brother, Elliott, an offensive lineman for Michigan. But Brock never gave up hope and worked with Michigan strength and conditioning coaches Mike Barwis and Parker Whiteman to work his way out of a wheelchair. Saturday, he'll be walking out of the tunnel at Michigan Stadium as he leads the Wolverines onto the field for their opener against Connecticut. "He's that one percent," Wolverines defensive tackle Mike Martin told me. "People said he'd never walk again, and he's proving people wrong right there. We’ve got to come out right behind him and show what we've got."

9. Indiana's new-look defense: The Hoosiers' season likely hinges on whether a historically porous defense can improve. IU will use the 3-4 alignment more this season, but the coaches also are excited about defensive ends Darius Johnson and Fred Jones. Tyler Replogle provides excellent leadership at linebacker, but Indiana needs three junior college transfers -- linebacker Jeff Thomas and defensive backs Andre Kates and Lenyatta Kiles -- to make an immediate impact. A strong debut against Towson is key.

10. Quarterback-turned-receivers: There was a time when Michigan State's Keith Nichol, Minnesota's MarQueis Gray and Purdue's Justin Siller looked like the potential answers for their teams at quarterback. All three players now will play prominent roles at wide receivers on opening weekend. All three received strong reviews in training camp as receivers, and all three could start on Saturday. Gray is the likeliest to be called upon as a quarterback, as he remains Adam Weber's backup for the Gophers. Siller makes his first appearance since 2008 after being suspended from school for the 2009-10 academic year.
Welcome to National Depth Chart Day. No day on the college football calendar inspires more curiosity about depth charts than the Monday before the season, when most teams release their Week 1 two-deeps.

(And then there's Purdue, which didn't include a depth chart in its game notes for Notre Dame. Ugh.)

I've had the chance to review depth charts from those programs that released them today -- two-deeps from Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota are coming soon -- and I checked in on several coaches' news conferences.

Here's what stood out:

INDIANA
  • Even though Indiana will shift to a 3-4 defensive alignment this year, the depth chart lists a 4-3 with Darius Johnson and Fred Jones as the starting ends and Chad Sherer and Tyler Replogle flanking junior college transfer Jeff Thomas at linebacker.
  • Interesting to see several veteran offensive linemen like Justin Pagan and Cody Faulkner listed as backups rather than starters. Junior Andrew McDonald steps into some big shoes at left tackle as Rodger Saffold departs to the NFL.
  • The backup quarterback job remains open, as Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker are both listed as No. 2 behind Ben Chappell.
  • Indiana expects big things from redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson, listed as a starter at wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner.
IOWA
  • Sophomores Micah Hyde and Greg Castillo are listed as the starting cornerbacks. Shaun Prater doesn't appear on the depth chart after dealing with a leg injury in camp. Prater hasn't been officially ruled out for the Eastern Illinois game, but I wouldn't expect to see much of him on Saturday.
  • James Ferentz is listed as the starting center, a spot where Iowa might be a little thin following Josh Koeppel's motorcycle accident Monday morning.
  • Starting defensive end Broderick Binns is suspended for the opener, so Christian Ballard is listed as a possible starter at both end and tackle. Mike Daniels and Lebron Daniel are the next options behind Ballard.
MICHIGAN
  • Sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier and freshman Devin Gardner are listed as co-starters at quarterback. Head coach Rich Rodriguez reiterated Monday that Gardner won't redshirt this fall.
  • Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw are listed as co-starters at running back, with Michael Cox behind them.
  • True freshman Carvin Johnson is listed as the starter at the spur position (safety/linebacker). Pretty big surprise here, and a testament to Johnson's work in camp.
  • Senior James Rogers steps into Troy Woolfolk's starting cornerback spot opposite J.T. Floyd.
  • Receivers Martavious Odoms and Kelvin Grady clearly showed enough in camp to be listed as starters or possible starters against Connecticut.
NORTHWESTERN
  • Sophomore running back Arby Fields returned to practice Monday and wore a no-contact jersey after being sidelined with a shoulder problem. He's listed as a co-starter at running back with Jacob Schmidt and Stephen Simmons. Northwestern wanted a clear No. 1 running back to emerge in camp, but Fields' injury changed the plan.
  • Junior Bryce McNaul is listed as the third top linebacker alongside returning starters Quentin Davie and Nate Williams. McNaul won the job in camp.
  • Venric Mark is the only true freshman listed on the depth chart, both as a backup wide receiver and a co-starter at punt returner. I'll go out on a huge limb (sarcasm) and predict Mark will be the man on returns for the Wildcats very shortly.
OHIO STATE
  • Junior defensive end Nathan Williams, a projected starter, will miss the Marshall game with a knee injury. He should be back shortly thereafter. Solomon Thomas will start in Williams' spot Thursday night.
  • Starting cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) is questionable for the Marshall game, but corner Devon Torrence (hamstring) should be fine.
  • Sophomore C.J. Barnett's strong performance in camp lifted him ahead of Orhian Johnson on the Week 1 depth chart. Johnson missed a chunk of camp with an injury.
  • Start salivating, Buckeyes fans, because running backs Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry likely will handle kickoff returns against Marshall.
PENN STATE
  • Sophomores Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin and freshman Robert Bolden are listed as co-starters at quarterback for the Youngstown State game.
  • Sophomore Devon Smith's strong camp landed him a starting spot at both receiver and kick returner, and a backup role on punt returns.
  • Redshirt freshman Garry Gilliam is listed as the starting tight end, as Andrew Szczerba likely will miss the opener with a back injury. Penn State obviously is thin here after losing Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler.
  • Veterans Nate Stupar, Chris Colasanti and Bani Gbadyu are listed as the starting linebackers, with promising younger players like Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges right behind them.
WISCONSIN
  • After a very impressive camp, freshman running back James White appears at No. 3 on the depth chart behind both John Clay and Montee Ball. White also is the No. 2 punt returner behind David Gilreath. His emergence likely will result in veteran Zach Brown redshirting the season.
  • Senior Blake Sorensen likely will start at outside linebacker, as Mike Taylor continues to rehab after undergoing a second procedure on his knee in camp. Culmer St. Jean and Chris Borland are listed as the other starting linebackers.
  • The starting cornerback spots remain open, as Niles Brinkley, Antonio Fenelus and Devin Smith will compete in practice this week.

Indiana spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
10:30
AM ET
Indiana

2009 overall record: 4-8

2009 conference record: 1-7 (T-10th)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 4, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Ben Chappell, WR Tandon Doss, WR Damarlo Belcher, RT James Brewer, RB Darius Willis, LB Tyler Replogle, DT Larry Black Jr.

Key losses

LT Rodger Saffold, DE Jammie Kirlew, LB Matt Mayberry, DE Greg Middleton, CB Ray Fisher, SS Austin Thomas, FS Nick Polk, LB Will Patterson

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Darius Willis* (607 yards)

Passing: Ben Chappell* (2,941 yards)

Receiving: Tandon Doss* (962 yards)

Tackles: Matt Mayberry (108)

Sacks: Jammie Kirlew (6.5)

Interceptions: Austin Thomas (4)

Spring answers

1. End game: Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton formed one of the Big Ten's most productive defensive end tandems during the last three seasons, and their departures raise a red flag about the defensive end position. So why isn't co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic concerned? He has tons of faith in Darius Johnson and Kevin Bush, the favorites to start at the two end spots. Bush, a 24-year-old redshirt sophomore, spent three plus seasons in the military before joining the Hoosiers. "I'm telling you, they're both going to end up being better than Jammie Kirlew," Palcic said.

2. Hoosiers switch to 3-4: Despite losing two veteran linebackers, Indiana employed more of the 3-4 alignment on defense this spring in an effort to capitalize on its athleticism. The switch allows the Hoosiers to rotate more players up front. Among the players to be featured in the 3-4 are Johnson, Bush, Damon Sims, Fred Jones and Adam Replogle, a big, athletic defender who moved from tackle to end this spring.

3. Receiving orders: Indiana entered the spring loaded at wide receiver, and the Hoosiers added more depth on the perimeter. First-team All-Big Ten selection Tandon Doss turned in a stellar spring, and redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson worked his way into a rotation that also includes Damarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner. Junior Dre Muhammad also stepped up, as he and Wilson combined for 10 catches in the spring game.

Fall questions

1. The secondary: There were some bright spots this spring, like the play of redshirt freshman cornerback Lawrence Barnett, but the secondary is far from settled heading into the summer. Indiana loses two multi-year starters at safety as well as Ray Fisher, its top cover corner. Junior college transfer Lenyatta Kiles went through spring ball, and another juco corner, Andre Kates, arrives for preseason camp. It will be interesting to see where those two fit in and whether Jerimy Finch finally blossoms at safety.

2. Run game: The pistol formation was supposed to ignite Indiana's rushing attack, but it hasn't happened yet. And while there's little doubt the Hoosiers can light up defenses through the air, their running game is a major question mark. Darius Willis shows flashes but struggles to stay on the field because of ankle problems. Indiana needs a strong camp from Willis and continued production from other backs like Antonio Banks, who had a nice spring.

3. Offensive line: Indiana must replace arguably the Big Ten's most underrated player in left tackle Rodger Saffold, who nearly worked his way into the first round of April's NFL draft (he was the first pick of the second round). Junior Andrew McDonald is Saffold's projected successor, but other players are in the mix, including starting guard Justin Pagan. The Hoosiers also must replace veteran guard Pete Saxon, so building chemistry will be key in preseason camp.
Indiana wrapped up spring practice Saturday night with the Cream & Crimson game at Memorial Stadium. Before getting to the game itself, some of the more interesting news from Bloomington took place outside the lines.

The Hoosiers unveiled their new uniforms for the 2010 season. The new jerseys still will have "Hoosiers" on the front, but the stripes move from the pants to the shoulders of the jersey. The numbers will be in block narrow font, originating from Indiana's 1967 unis, worn when the team made its only Rose Bowl appearance.

The atmosphere at the spring game also appeared to be significantly upgraded, as new athletics director Fred Glass continues to enhance the experience of going to Memorial Stadium. The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens has a good account of the event, which featured contests, prizes and music.

Back to the game, which the Crimson squad won 17-10 following Ben Chappell's 21-yard touchdown pass to Charles Love III. The Crimson defense stepped up with two interceptions, a forced fumble, six sacks and only 116 yards allowed. Neither team scored an offensive touchdown until Trea Burgess reached the end zone on a 6-yard run midway through the third quarter.

The defensive surge had to be encouraging for a team that has struggled to stop its opponents for more than a decade. Cornerback Lenyatta Kiles, a junior college transfer, recorded two interceptions, while safety John Connelly and safety Aaron Burks both recorded one pick. Defensive end Fred Jones had four tackles for loss and three sacks. Other defensive standouts included defensive end Adam Replogle (2 sacks), linebacker Jamie Lukaszewski (11 tackles, 1 TFL) and linebacker Chad Sherer (10 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack).

On the flip side, Indiana's run game continued to struggle. Starting running back Darius Willis sat out the game with an ankle injury, and the teams combined for minus-38 rushing yards in the opening half. There's little doubt that Indiana will have one of the Big Ten's top passing attacks in 2010, led by quarterback Ben Chappell and wide receiver Tandon Doss, but the Hoosiers need more balance in their offense.

Other nuggets:

  • The game's first touchdown came on special teams, as redshirt freshman Jamonne Chester picked up a dropped snap on a punt and raced 38 yards to the end zone.
  • Freshman Antonio Banks provided the only spark in the run game with a 30-yard burst. Banks, an early enrollee who had an impressive spring, finished with 49 rushing yards on 11 carries.
  • Several players left the game with injuries, including right tackle James Brewer, wide receiver Duwyce Wilson and safety/return man Jerimy Finch.
  • The competition at kicker should be interesting to watch this fall. Returning starter Nick Freeland went 1-for-2 on attempts Saturday, connecting from 45 yards out but missing a 32-yarder. Mitch Ewald converted his only attempt, from 44 yards out.
In preparation for the start of spring practice Tuesday, Indiana has issued an updated depth chart (Page 4).

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.
Anyone who watched Indiana in 2009 could see the obvious improvement that took place in Bloomington. The Hoosiers had a more dynamic offense and good speed on both sides of the ball. But once again, progress didn't translate into a better record, as IU couldn't finish off potential victories against Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State. Fourth-year head coach Bill Lynch will be on the hot seat entering 2010, and he'll need to see his team make more strides on the field, particularly on defense, and most important, in the win column this fall.

[+] EnlargeBill Lynch
AJ Mast/Icon SMIAfter losing seven starters on defense, Bill Lynch's staff has it's work cut out on that side of the ball.
Indiana kicks off spring ball a week from today, and I recently caught up with Lynch to preview the spring.

You were so close in so many games last year. Is there any way to build off that as you hit the field again?

Bill Lynch: I certainly think so. I've seen it throughout the winter program. We're building off what we did in the fall, and I've certainly seen good leadership, good gains in the weight room. We've got a great attitude going into the spring. Obviously, we've got two different kinds of teams. We've got great experience on offense. Certainly our skill position guys are back and healthier than they were a year ago. Offensive line, we lost a couple guys, but we've got some good young guys that have been waiting their turn. Defense is a bunch of young guys that are really anxious to go, some kids who have redshirted and we feel are very talented, guys that haven't played but who we think are going to be really good football players for us. So it will be fun to watch them get out and go. It's going to be a fun spring that way. I like what we're doing from an X's and O's standpoint. We just have to get better at it right now.

You mention the defense and I know you lose a lot [seven starters] on that side. As a head coach, I know you're an overseer, but will you spend more time with the defense this spring?

BL: I don't think my personal time will be spent any more [with the defense]. We'll certainly do a great job of evaluating the kids. We've got to do more of it this spring than we've done in the last couple [of years], in terms of being very accurate in our grading and what we do in the spring with personnel, particularly on the defensive side. When you get out of the spring, you want to have a pretty good idea of your two-deep going into the fall. Now things can change and other kids can have great summers, but you have to have a starting point. In the spring, you give a lot of guys opportunities and see where it shakes itself out. But going into the fall, you have to have a pretty good idea.

So, would you like to know your depth chart on defense coming out of the spring?

BL: Yeah, I think so. I've always felt like you'd like to come out of the spring knowing who your top 50 football players are. That's not to say you're not going to tweak some things over the summer before they get here in August, but it's important, not only offense and defense, but it gives you a great idea of how you'd like to start out with your special teams.

You mentioned the anxiousness of young players on defense to get out there. Who are some of the guys you're looking forward to seeing this spring?

BL: I'll start at defensive end, because [Jammie] Kirlew and [Greg] Middleton played so much. Darius Johnson and Javon Cornley. We've got a guy named Kevin Bush, an older guy, really, but he's had a great fall and winter. He was a walk-on who was in the military and came back to school. And then Fred Jones, Eric Thomas are guys who have been in our program that are good football players. They've been waiting their turn to really go in and compete. At linebacker, it's more of a young group, but Damon Sims and D.J. Carr-Watson and Griffen Dahlstrom and Chad Sherer are all kids that are looking forward to showing what they can do because [Matt] Mayberry and [Will] Patterson and [Justin] Carrington and some of those guys that played so much [are gone]. We've got a JC kid in Jeff Thomas from Northern California; we like what we've seen from him in the winter, so I'm anxious to see him on the field. He's an inside [linebacker]. And then in the secondary, it's wide open. [Austin] Thomas and [Nick] Polk played so much, and then [Ray] Fisher played last year. There are some guys there that have had good winters because they know it's going to be very competitive, and this is their opportunity.

I'm sure you have a good idea of your leaders on offense, but who steps into those roles on defense?

Lynch: There are a couple guys who are great leaders on that side. Tyler Replogle is as good as you're going to find, and Mitchell Evans is the same way, and we're moving Mitchell from offense to defense. So it starts there with those two guys. But all our [defensive] tackles played a lot of football for us last year, so we have good experience there. Evans certainly will give us some stability in the back end there because he's played so much football, even though it hasn't all been on defense.

Indiana injury report: Fisher out

November, 6, 2009
11/06/09
10:13
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Indiana has issued its official injury report for Saturday's home game against No. 21 Wisconsin (Big Ten Network, noon ET).

OUT
  • 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
QUESTIONABLE
  • S Jerimy Finch, hamstring
PROBABLE
  • 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.

Indiana injury report

October, 30, 2009
10/30/09
2:41
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Indiana has issued its official injury report for Saturday's game at No. 4 Iowa (ESPN, noon ET).

OUT
  • DE Darius Johnson, shoulder
  • RB Zach Davis-Walker, foot
  • CB Chris Adkins, elbow
  • DT Jarrod Smith, back
DOUBTFUL
  • S Jerimy Finch, hamstring
  • S Jarrell Drane, thigh
QUESTIONABLE
  • DE Fred Jones, foot
PROBABLE
  • LB Will Patterson, hand
  • CB Donnell Jones, elbow

A few more names on the report this week, but both Patterson and Jones have been upgraded, which bodes well for Indiana against the Hawkeyes. Safety depth could be a concern if both Finch and Drane sit, so Indiana needs Austin Thomas and Nick Polk to stay healthy on Saturday. Jones is expected to start the game despite dealing with a dislocated elbow. Patterson sat out last week but ranks fifth on the team in tackles (40).
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Indiana has issued its official injury report for Saturday's game at Northwestern (Big Ten Network, noon ET).

OUT
  • DE Darius Johnson, shoulder
  • DE Fred Jones, foot
  • LB Will Patterson, hand
  • CB Donnell Jones, elbow
  • CB Chris Adkins, elbow
  • DT Jarrod Smith, back
  • RB Zach Davis-Walker, foot
QUESTIONABLE
  • OL Pete Saxon, ankle
PROBABLE

Much like Northwestern, Indiana is having injuries pile up on the defensive side. Patterson is a big loss at linebacker, as he ranks third on the team in tackles (40). Indiana's depth at cornerback also will be tested with both Jones and Adkins missing the game. Fifth-year senior Justin Carrington will get the start for Patterson at weakside linebacker. Saxon's availability will be important, as he missed last week's game after hurting the ankle Oct. 10 at Virginia. Senior Mike Reiter would start his second straight game at right guard if Saxon can't go. Willis, who has been upgraded from questionable last week, would be a big boost for the Hoosiers' run game.

Indiana injury report

October, 16, 2009
10/16/09
11:07
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Indiana has issued its official injury report for Saturday's game against Illinois (Big Ten Network, 7 p.m. ET).

OUT
  • DE Darius Johnson, shoulder
  • DE Fred Jones, foot
  • LB Leon Beckum, ankle
  • DT Jarrod Smith, back
  • CB Chris Adkins, elbow
  • RB Zach Davis-Walker, foot
QUESTIONABLE

The defense is a bit more banged up than last week, as both Adkins and Smith will miss the Illinois game. Adkins has appeared in all six games and recorded 14 tackles and an interception. His absence thins the Hoosiers' depth at cornerback. Willis missed last week's game and has dealt with ankle injuries since the preseason. It will also be interesting to see how the defense responds after several key contributors had the flu last week. Saxon, the team's starting right guard, didn't practice Monday. Junior Cody Faulkner would step in for Saxon at right guard. Willis is listed as the starter on this week's depth chart and would be replaced by Demetrius McCray and Trea Burgess.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Indiana has issued its official injury report for Saturday's game at Virginia (ESPN360.com, 3:30 p.m. ET).

OUT
  • DE Darius Johnson, shoulder
  • DE Fred Jones, foot
  • LB Leon Beckum, ankle
QUESTIONABLE
  • RB Darius Willis, ankle
PROBABLE
  • OL Justin Pagan, ankle
  • OL James Brewer, ankle

Willis is the big name on the report. He struggled with ankle problems during camp and the early part of the season, but exploded for 152 yards and two touchdowns on Sept. 26 at Michigan. Ohio State held the redshirt freshman in check last week, as Willis rushed for only 23 yards on 11 carries. The ankle appears to be a lingering injury, though Hoosiers head coach Bill Lynch said Tuesday that he expects Willis to play Saturday. Willis leads Indiana with 244 rush yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries this fall. If he can't go, Trea Burgess and Demetrius McCray likely will share the carries load against Virginia.

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