Wednesday, August 22, 2012

IU Offense Looks To Be Building for Better Future

Are you like us? Are you so shaken by the thought that Prince Harry went nude in Las Vegas (can you believe somebody has actually posted photos on the Internet! No, we didn't look!) and Taylor Swift crashed a Kennedy wedding (yes, one of THOSE Kennedys) that you’ve lost sight of what’s really important, which is that Indiana is starting to build a solid offense.

Now, the Hoosiers aren’t ready to challenge Oregon or USC or Michigan for the nation’s most prolific offense, but there are signs these guys are going to score some points.

We’ve seen some of that in practice. Coach Kevin Wilson is hinting at that, as well.

“I think offensively we’re maybe a little more complete as far as pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “We’re getting to where the lines can be consistent, we have a decent player at tight end (Ted Bolser), a couple of receivers (Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn, Duwyce Wilson), a couple of running backs (Stephen Houston, Tevin Coleman and D’Angelo Roberts) and a quarterback (Tre Roberson) that is getting good. Not just someone who can move around, but also throw. So we’re a little more complete on offense.”

Granted, Wilson isn't as enthusiastic as, say, Dick Vitale, when it comes to praise, but the point is there's reason for offensive optimism.

In the end, though, the offense will only be as good as the offensive line will allow it to be. While veterans such as Will Matte, Cody Evers, Collin Rahrig, Bernard Taylor are doing fine, left tackle Charlie Chapman remains out with a concussion. He’s missed a couple of weeks and Wilson said he’s still not ready to return.

Even when Chapman returns, he won't immediately be in the lineup.

"If they (trainers) hold them out, they don't practice and if they don't practice, they don't play in games," Wilson said. "Right now, the guys who have been held out significantly are not going to be playing with us in Game 1 and Game 2. We've got a lot of timing going on, a lot of special teams work going on, a lot of teaching."

As a result, true freshman Jason Spriggs has taken over the spot. That’s a little concerning given the importance of the left tackle in protecting a right-handed quarterback, which Roberson is. Do you want a guy that young with that responsibility, especially considering the 6-7, 270-pound Spriggs is light for the position and was recruited as either a tight end or defensive end?

Ideally, no, but life in general, and IU football in particularly, doesn't always deal with ideals.

The good news -- Wilson is impressed with the way Spriggs has responded.

“He’s gotten the bulk of the work there, and he’s done well,” Wilson said. “We’ll do things to help him, whether it’s having tight ends help, backs help or throw more quick passes, or schematically look at matchups. It’s always matchups.

“But he’s awfully good. He’s actually played better than the guy who got hurt (Chapman) from a physical stand point. Outside of experience and youthfulness, he’s as good, if not a better player.”

Still, Chapman’s injury creates a depth problem. Peyton Eckert has the edge at right tackle, with no clear backup.

“We’re a little thin at tackle,” Wilson said. “I think our offense is actually reasonably good if we get good tackle play. But until you get out there and play against some ends for real, and there’s some upper level ends in our conference, you don’t know. We’ll play on the first week a young man (Ben Obaseki) from Indiana State who is as good as most Big Ten ends we’re going to play, if not better. So we’ll find out early what Jason is about.”

As far as the rest of the line, freshman Dan Freeney is battling returning starter Bernard Taylor at left guard. Center Will Matte looks solid. Collin Rahrig and Cody Evers are in a good battle for right guard.

"Bernard's doing OK inside," Wilson said. "Dan Freeney's as good as him. That's a nice little deal. You've got some depth there. Collin Rahrig's doing well with Cody. Evers and Will Matte, so you've kind of got five guys in those center-guard spots."

The defense remains a work in progress, but it has to be better than the unit that gave up 37.4 points a game last season.

“We have more speed and consistently seem to be in the right spot,” Wilson said. “If we’re talking about things to work on, it’s making tackles and creating turnovers.”

Then there is special teams, which has gotten plenty of work this month.

“We’ve put in a significant amount of time,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to get some of our best players in the mix, but we also have to be smart and don’t have them play on multiple teams.

“Typically you always start where you want your very good players on the punting team and the kickoff cover team because that’s really your first defensive plays.

“If a guy is starting you don’t like him on more than two teams. And we’ll have starters playing on two teams. Guys like (linebackers Jacarri Alexander and David Cooper). (Tight end) Ted Bolser and (running backs) Stephen Houston and D’Angelo Roberts and Tevin Coleman will be on teams.

“You can be a starter, but you’ve got to play special teams. We try to keep it at two and the cover units get first go.”


  1. No mention of running back Roundtree. Why? Thought he was going to start.

  2. Jason Spriggs is 6'7.