Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
On a windy but beautiful April Friday night in Bloomington, the Indiana Hoosiers concluded spring practice with the 2019 edition of the Spring Game between the Cream and Crimson squads. The offense, led by new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer wore the Cream uniforms while Kane Wommack’s defense led the Crimson squad. With Michael Penix recovering from a torn ACL and not cleared for full contact and Jack Tuttle out for the spring with an illness, redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey was the sole quarterback for the Hoosiers. The offense gained points through traditional scoring while the defense could accumulate points for three and outs, stops and takeaways. In between quarters, the Hoosiers ran 7-on-7 “skeleton drills” with Michael Penix at quarterback and Stevie Scott and Cole Gest participating at running back. Field goals were also kicked after the first and third quarters and counted for scoring.
In addition to missing a pair of quarterbacks, Indiana was cautious and sat a number of players out of the contest. Guys like Stevie Scott, Ronnie Walker, Nick Westbrook and multiple linemen did not participate. The offense scored their lone touchdown in the first half on a nice pass from Peyton Ramsey to Ty Fryfogle. The defense countered with a pair of takeaways and the Cream led the Crimson 22-19 at the break. The first possession of the second half ended with an A’Shon Riggins interception on a poorly thrown ball by Peyton Ramsey. The offense countered with a nice drive that resulted in a short touchdown for Kristian Pechac. After three made field goals and one missed field goal before the fourth quarter, the score stood at 38-33 in favor of the Cream squad. The offense quickly built on their lead as Ahrod Lloyd scored on a short run to put them ahead 45-33. Logan Justus hit a 46-yard field goal for the final score as the Cream squad prevailed 48-33.
Writing a normal game recap for what was a glorified scrimmage seems a bit silly. Rather, a bulleted list of observations and standouts from the Hoosiers final practice of the spring seems more fitting:
-Peyton Ramsey had an up and down night that showed some progress in his game but also showed the limitations we’ve seen in the past. He completed a lot of check downs and was mostly accurate on short passes but clearly struggled to stretch the field or fit the ball into tight windows and rarely got the ball to his receivers where they could make a play in space. That’s not to say there were not positives for Ramsey. He had a good connection with Donavan Hale and connected on a nice deep ball for a touchdown to Ty Fryfogle.
-It is a bit unfair to judge the offensive line based on tonight’s scrimmage as a few starters were sitting out, several different combinations were being used and the offense was without a few key skill players but it is fair to say that they were often overwhelmed by the Indiana defense. I was quite impressed by the penetration the defensive front was able to consistently create.
-Donavan Hale has received a lot of praise from the Indiana coaches during the spring and his excellent performance continued during the spring game. He looked very good running routes on the outside and showed consistent hands on out routes.
-Taking conclusions on Kalen DeBoer’s scheme based on tonight would be unwise but it was interesting to see Indiana actually run some plays with the quarterback under center. In addition, it was refreshing to see deep routes run up the seam, using the middle of the field instead of only going deep down the sideline.
-Walk-ons Kristian Pechac and Ahrod Lloyd were the primary running backs for the Hoosiers this evening. Truth be told, neither of them found much success as the ground game struggled to get any traction. Lloyd did have some nice receptions out of the backfield and a short touchdown run and Pechac was able to punch in from a couple of yards out for a touchdown.
-The defense looked very quick and a few players stood out: James Miller moves so well and constantly finds himself around the ball. Aaron Casey made a few nice plays, particularly against the run. Jamar Johnson is a player that often gets left out when the secondary gets talked about but he is a versatile piece that is definitely going to be a part of the rotation. He had a fumble recovery and a sack on a blitz. Noah Pierre won an award for the Most Improved player on the defense and he showed he will be a factor in the defensive back rotation. He had a fumble recovery and a very nice tackle for loss.
Hoosier Huddle will have more coverage on the 2019 Spring Game at hoosierhuddle.com.