Now that spring practice has ended, we wanted to take questions from Indiana Football fans as we head into the summer seasons. Thank you to everyone who sent in their questions.
-Will Zander Diamont be used in SOME sets for a different look?- @scoopDaily
A: Thanks for the question. First, Diamont has to get healthy. He missed all of spring practice and he’s had durability issues during his entire IU career (understandable given his size and the position he plays). I’ve been impressed by Diamont’s fire and attitude and he is undoubtedly capable of making plays with his legs (his long gallop against OSU being the prime example). After being left out of the quarterback discussion for much of the offseason and working as a slot receiver, Kevin Wilson mentioned that Zander Diamont could be a part of the backup quarterback competition when healthy.
If the coaching staff ends up trusting Lagow as the starter, I see very little value in pulling him off the field to use Diamont as some kind of Wildcat quarterback. If that’s a role the IU coaches desire to have, I think Donovan Hale is the more explosive athlete and I’d think he would be first in line for the formation (although I don’t expect to see that either). Would he be used as a slot receiver that could somehow run WR sweeps and throw the ball? That’s possible but the defense would likely see that coming as soon as he checked into the game unless he was used regularly as a regular slot receiver, something I don’t see as a possibility because of the depth IU has at the position. In my opinion, the most likely landing spot for Diamont is on the depth chart at QB behind Richard Lagow and battling with Austin King, Danny Cameron and Donovan Hale for the backup position. I could be underestimating Diamont’s ability or the creativity of the coaching staff but I don’t see any kind of regular playing time for the junior from California in 2016.
Q: How much of a possibility is it that Wilson will have Cameron and Lagow share snaps throughout the season? -@cjfrankiu
A: Thanks for the question! Danny Cameron has improved quite a bit from last season to this spring. That being said, I wasn’t particularly impressed with his play during the Spring Game and I didn’t see anything that would lead me to believe he and Lagow should be splitting snaps during the regular season. That being said, it’s important to note that I don’t see every practice and I don’t see the study and work the players put into film study and I don’t know how either quarterback interacts and leads his teammates (all important parts of being a quarterback in D1). Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld split snaps a couple of seasons ago but Kevin Wilson is generally not one to split quarterback play during meaningful snaps. If the coaching staff trusts one of the quarterbacks enough when the season kicks off in Miami and that quarterback doesn’t turn the ball over at a high rate and doesn’t struggle to run the offense, I can’t see the staff opting to have “two starters”.
Q: “Pick one offensive and one defensive player who’s performance in the spring/Spring Game was most encouraging?” –Patrick in Columbus
A: Thanks for the question Patrick…I assume that by “most encouraging” you are asking me to choose a player from a position that IU has some questions about and needs a couple of guys to step up. Note that I am excluding Richard Lagow because I’ve made you readers read far too much about the quarterback play already! On defense, I’m going with defensive tackle Nate Hoff. Hoff was a real standout as a freshman in 2014, totaling 3.5 sacks and garnering multiple tackles in all but two games. However, he struggled last season (due to injury and other unknown factors) and he rarely appeared or made an impact. This spring, Hoff looked much more like the 2014 version of himself than what we saw in 2015. The 300-plus pound defensive tackle will be needed in a big way after the departure of Darius Latham and Adarius Rayner and Hoff’s actively level during the Spring Game was great to see. He was in the backfield multiple times and looked like a generally disruptive force and the IU defense will need that consistently during the 2016 season. There were certainly plenty of encouraging performances but Hoff particularly jumped out to me.
Indiana received encouraging news about potential star running back Camion Patrick as they learned he will be out only 5-6 months after successful knee surgery. Still, the injury leaves them with Devine Redding and Mike Majette as the only experienced scholarship running backs (Devonte Williams made the switch from DB to RB and looked good while Alex Rodriguez and Ricky Brookins are walk-ons). The Hoosiers know what they have with Redding so it was great to see Mike Majette excelling during the Spring Game. Majette, an explosive athlete, burst on the scene with 83 rushing yards, 33 receiving yards and a touchdown in IU’s crushing collapse against Rutgers. He was injured towards the end of the season and was unable to build on that breakout performance so I was very pleased to see him break off a 20+ yard run last Friday night and look like the versatile, dangerous back I believe he is set to be. Majette can be used as a receiver out of the backfield on screen passes and as a change-of-pace running back and the combination of Redding/Majette/Williams should be a potent trio until Patrick returns to take things to the next level.
Q: “We didn’t see much from the tight end position on Friday night, how do you see that group playing out in 2016?” –Amy from Warsaw
A: You are correct, injuries (Austin Dorris) and last season’s graduating class left the tight end position a bit depleted for the spring. While I certainly understand the concern, I think the position will be quite solid by the time the B1G season gets rolling. It may take a bit of time for the group to gel but I like the players IU will have available. Austin Dorris is a redshirt freshman that I have no problem admitting I am extremely high on. Danny Friend is a seasoned redshirt junior very capable as a blocker and receiver and Jordan Fuchs enters his junior season poised to breakout (if he receives some targets). The Hoosiers moved former linebacker Ryan Watercutter to tight end and he looked the part in the Spring Game. JUCO transfer Ian Thomas (6’5”/220) and freshman Shaun Bonner (6’3”/240) will join the roster in the summer to add more depth. IU often runs two tight end sets and I would expect Friend and Fuchs to be the two primary “starters”. However, Dorris and Ian Thomas will likely get plenty of snaps and Watercutter has the athletic tools to contribute when needed. I imagine, he’ll begin the season behind the aforementioned four players and I think they’d love to redshirt Bonner if the unit can stay healthy. I can definitely understand why you’d be concerned about the position and I think there are legitimate questions about how good this group can be but I like what the Hoosiers have at the position and I think Friend, Dorris and Fuchs are all capable of having big seasons.