Written By Lauralys Shallow
With spring football concluded, we are taking a look at what the Hoosiers will need to work on during the summer months before fall camp.
1. Continue to Fill the Holes in the Defense
The Hoosiers lost eight seniors on the defensive side of the ball, and one of the most crucial questions facing IU is how this team will replace that talent and leadership. Linebacker Tegray Scales is third in school history with 46 tackles for loss, and he was team captain in his final season at IU. Another loss, defensive back Rashard Fant, is IU’s all-time leader in passes defended (58) and pass breakups (53).
The regrouping of the 2018 defense starts with Marcelino Ball. Ball is arguably the most valuable player on IU’s defense. Ball adapted perfectly to the “husky” position–hybrid safety/linebacker. IU Coach Tom Allen is not shy about the importance of the “husky” role in his 4-2-5 defense. IU will look to its vocal leaders and big playmakers, senior defensive back Jonathan Crawford and redshirt junior linebacker Reakwon Jones to lead this new defensive era to success the next fall.
Allen said he does not have a lot of leadership on defense because so many young guys are mainly worried about doing their job. “Some of these guys that have been here like a Jon Crawford and Lino and Jacob Robinson, those guys, Michael Barwick, now it's like they have to elevate their leadership because these younger guys, it's tough to be able to learn something and then lead, and so we're not asking those young guys to do that, we're just asking them to master their area of responsibility, so Lino needs to be more consistent and elevate his leadership,” Allen said.
2. Improve in strength and conditioning
IU needs to continue to get bigger and faster this summer. After the spring game, Allen said his team is already noticeably improving in speed. “Sometimes when you see them all the time, you don't quite have a perception of it or perspective of it, but every time that someone comes and watches us that hasn't seen us for a while, they'll comment about the way our team looks and how well we move."
Obviously, the players have physical talent, but Coach Ballou and the strength staff are a huge part of this improvement of the strength and speed. IU has a 12-week cycle in strength and conditioning training, with four of those weeks being discretionary, but Allen said his guys understand how critical those four weeks are. Allen is optimistic that IU has the coaches and effort it needs to make strides in speed and strength this summer. “When you believe in the people that are coaching you and leading you like our guys do, our strength staff, it really increases the effort, just the amount of focus you bring to each workout because they really believe in their hearts if they do everything they're asked to do, they're going to get bigger, stronger and faster, so that's encouraging,” Allen said.
3. A competitive battle for the starting quarterback spot
When Arizona graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins decided to attend IU for his final season last week, Dawkins added experience and leadership to the quarterback battle. While it will be challenging for Dawkins to adjust to the offense since he missed spring practice, Allen said his experience, the fact that he is not a freshman right out of high school, will make a major difference.
“He's a guy that played four years of college and graduated, very articulate, sharp young man, and has been a starting quarterback in the Pac-12, so that brings a different type of attitude and level of confidence,” Allen said. “What we have to do a great job of is meshing his previous knowledge and skill sets to what we do, and that's a big part of what Coach Sheridan and Coach DeBord have to do once he gets here.”
Redshirt sophomore Peyton Ramsey and freshman Michael Penix have emerged as the front runners in spring ball, getting the most reps. Allen had high words of praise for Ramsey after the spring game.
“The kid is a winner, and he's tough, and he cares,” Allen said. “Here's what I tell our football team: I want guys that I can trust. I want guys that are tough. I want guys that are dependable. And that to me defines Peyton Ramsey, and that's a young man that's going to help this football team win a bunch of games. Whatever that role may be, he may be the starter, and I know that's what he wants, but the bottom line is he has all those intangibles that you want in a young man.” Allen is excited to have a plethora of talent at the quarterback position because competition makes everyone better. Allen said the quarterbacks drive the program and you’re only as good as your quarterback. The quarterback is critical, and the competition among Dawkins, Penix, and Ramsey will only make each of them better individually and the program better offensively.
Fans of Hoosier Huddle can help support the site by shopping on Amazon using the ad below at no cost to the shopper. Thank you for your support.