Damarlo Belcher likely won’t get his opportunity at redemption for his critical dropped touchdown pass last season against Iowa and Will Matte apparently won’t get to continue his career-long streak of starts.
Both suffered knee sprains in Saturday’s game against Wisconsin. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said Tuesday that he was hopeful that both would be available. On Wednesday, however, he said neither had practiced enough yet for him to expect them to be ready.
Though Belcher has failed to match his production from last season, the senior wideout is still the Hoosiers’ leading receiver with 25 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s out there a little bit, but I don’t think he’s gonna play,” Wilson said. “He’s half-way jogging running, but he really hasn’t timed up plays. I’m of the opinion he’s probably not dressing and playing. I guess we can see as we move forward, but to me when a guy hasn’t timed up reps and we have enough other guys, he’s probably out of the mix.”
Wilson said Matte had also missed most of the reps this week. He had started at center in every game in his career, a streak that had reached 31 games.
“He’s always been reasonably steady with snap,” Wilson said. “… You’re just losing a guy that’s played a couple of years pretty steady. Hopefully he’s just a week or two away.”
Wilson said redshirt freshman Collin Rahrig, who had been listed as the backup center since camp but had started at right guard, will handle Matte’s duties at the center. Senior Justin Pagan will mostly play right guard with freshman Peyton Eckert at right tackle. Junior Marc Damisch and redshirt freshman Cody Evers could also get time on the right side.
The Hoosiers have plenty of replacements for Belcher. Sophomores Duwyce Wilson and Kofi Hughes will maintain their starting roles. Senior Dre Muhammad, sophomore Jamonne Chester and freshmen Cody Latimer, Jay McCants and Shane Wynn have all had extensive time, so that could mean more time for any or all of them.
Wilson said the Hoosiers are mostly healthy otherwise. Senior linebacker Leon Beckum is on track to return to the lineup after suffering a knee injury against Ball State and missing the six games since. Freshman defensive end Bobby Richardson has also practiced every day since suffering a concussion last week, Wilson said.