March 23, 2009

Indiana has plenty to do this spring

Indiana followed up a bowl season in 2007 with just three victories in 2008, meaning there's a lot of work to be done during spring practice.

Fixing the offensive line will be the first priority. The Hoosiers couldn't run effectively last season, and that put too much pressure on a mediocre passing attack.

Upgrading the secondary is important, too.

Here's a look at the Hoosiers as they begin spring drills.

Kellen Lewis and the offense have to improve this spring.
Coach: Bill Lynch
Last season: 3-9, 1-7 Big Ten
Spring dates: March 24-April 18
Offense (7): G Cody Faulkner, WR Ray Fisher, QB Kellen Lewis, G Mike Reiter, T Rodger Saffold, C Pete Saxon, WR Terrance Turner.
Defense (8): CB Chris Adkins, CB Richard Council, E Jammie Kirlew, T Deonte Mack, LB Matt Mayberry, LB Will Patterson, FS Nick Polk, SS Austin Thomas.
Special teams (1): P Chris Hagerup.
Positions of strength

There are several quality options at receiver. In fact, the position looks so strong that Ray Fisher may move to cornerback. Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher looked good as true freshmen last season. The defense will be led by what looks like a strong line and linebacking corps, and Chris Hagerup is one of the nation's top punters.

Help is needed

The offensive line needs to develop. On defense, the focus will be on finding good cornerbacks. Many young corners were forced into action, which could turn out to be beneficial in the long run.

Keep an eye on

OT James Brewer: He looks the part of an NFL lineman (6-8/ 330) and has decent athletic ability for a man of his size. But Brewer, a junior, has yet to put it all together. He has to deliver if the line hopes to be effective.

LB Tyler Replogle: He has shown a nose for the ball and a non-stop motor as a reserve. If Replogle, a junior, is as good as coaches think, the Hoosiers could have a strong set of linebackers. If Replogle struggles, the front seven may struggle.

RB Darius Willis: He was one of the school's most highly decorated recruits in years when he signed in 2008. Now, he's expected to step up. Willis possesses the size and ability to run to make him a weapon for an offense that desperately needs to run better.

His time is now

Defensive end Greg Middleton led the nation with 16 sacks as a sophomore in 2007, which had some whispering that he may one day be a first- or second-round draft choice. But his production plummeted last fall. Middleton lacked explosiveness and consistent effort last season. If he rebounds and Jammie Kirlew continues to develop, Indiana may have one of the best sets of ends in the Big Ten.

The buzz

The top goal is finding five good offensive linemen for a unit that for too long has struggled, resulting in a middling rushing attack. Injuries and ineffectiveness caused constant shuffling in 2008. This must end. The staff also needs to pick a quarterback coming out of spring drills and stick with him. The rotating of Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell at quarterback last season hurt the offense.

Tom Dienhart is the national senior writer for He can be reached at is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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