Indiana began two-a-days today, with practices nine and 10 (of 29 total before the season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Thursday, Sept. 3).
We were at the morning practice. The afternoon practice, a controlled scrimmage, was not open to the media.
A few tidbits from the morning:
- Though head coach Bill Lynch said no player has suffered a serious injury during camp, several rested both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Offensive linemen Justin Pagan and James Brewer were inactive for both sessions, as were freshman kicker Mitch Ewald and punter Chris Hagerup. Lynch said Brewer, the 6-foot-8, 339-pound right tackle, has had shin problems but should not miss much time. The Hoosiers absolutely need him healthy.
- Ben Chappell continued to look sharp passing the ball. He has terrific touch, which he showed off by hitting Dre Muhammad on a deep pass through the seam for a touchdown. Muhammad, a Purdue transfer who is originally from Fort Wayne, has been one of this camp’s standouts. Though Indiana will use fewer receivers this season, Muhammad could earn his way onto the field as a Ray Fisher-type player who excels on screens. Lynch loves his competitiveness.
- Lynch said he would use the scrimmage to see how the young players adapt to near-game speed. With three other two-a-day sessions next week, the staff is entering the period during which they must begin making decisions about which players will practice to play and which ones will join the scout team. So the freshmen were on the spot Saturday. “The more opportunities you give them early, the more you learn about them,” Lynch said.
- Earlier this fall I wrote in the paper about how Indiana’s offense stayed late after practice to run through a few plays in rapid fashion. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada explained the drill today. During the spring, he decided to punish mistakes (penalties, fumbles) with up-downs. He thought that worked, but wanted something more corrective than punitive for the fall. So what happens after each practice is that the offense runs any play it messed up three times in quick succession. “That way they have a good memory of that play and don’t have to go into the locker room thinking about the mistake,” Canada said.