Written by Nathan Comp
Practice is set to begin this weekend for Indiana football. Today, we’ll look at what the most important storylines are heading into this spring.
1. How does DeBoer’s offense look?
After two years leading the Indiana offense, Mike DeBord has moved on to the AAF’s San Diego Fleet and Kalen DeBoer is the new head coach of the offense. Previously the offensive coordinator at Fresno State, DeBoer flipped that offense around in just two years to make it one of the best offenses in the Mountain West conference. DeBoer also found success in the same position at Eastern Michigan, and actually has head coaching experience from NAIA Sioux Falls. After a pair of disgruntled years because of the seemingly limited offensive scheme from DeBord, Indiana fans will look to DeBoer to diversify the offense and produce similar results as he has during his previous jobs.
2. Can the defensive line fill its graduation vacancies?
Most of the losses on the defensive side of the ball come on the defensive line. Jacob Robinson, Mike Barwick Jr., Nile Sykes, Kayton Samuels, and Jamarez Bowen all are no longer with the program after having productive years in 2018. Now, Coach Mark Hagen will have to look to the next rotation of men to neutralize the opponent’s offensive line and allow Indiana’s linebackers to make plays. A big piece of this puzzle, both metaphorically and literally, will be Juan Harris. Harris is back with the Indiana program after a brief stint at Independence Community College. Having him at full strength and demanding a double team will be key for a position group with much uncertainty.
3. How do the newest recruits look?
The 2019 early enrollees include Juan Harris, Larry Tracy, Sampson James, Mike Katic, and Matthew Bedford. A lot of hype has been surrounding Coach Allen’s top recruit of the 2019 class, Avon native and Ohio State-flip Sampson James. He will join an already talented group of players in the running back room. Having these freshmen available in the spring is so instrumental for their development and it will certainly be a story to watch as practice opens.
4. Who appears to have put in the most work in the weight room?
Strength coaches David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea both saw significant bumps in their salaries this offseason and this spring will be the time to see why. Yesterday when talking to the media Coach Allen gave specific shout outs to Jonathan King, Gavin McCabe, Matt Bjorson, Caleb Jones, and Stevie Scott for their work this offseason in the weight room. The development of players is so important for a program like Indiana. Seeing how these players, and all the others, have dedicated themselves in the weight room will be telling for Indiana’s performance next season.
5. Who stands out as the leader of the quarterback competition?
The biggest question that will continue into the fall will be who will ultimately win the quarterback competition. It appears to be a three-horse race, including transfer Jack Tuttle, coming-off-of-injury Mike Penix, and incumbent starter Peyton Ramsey. Penix will not be taking any full team snaps during the spring as a part of his recovery from the ACL tear, but will be a participant in more individual drills. This will leave Ramsey and Tuttle to get the majority of the 11 on 11 snaps. A starter is far from being named, in fact it is yet to be determined by the NCAA if Jack Tuttle will even be eligible, but a healthy competition at such an important position will be exciting to watch all the way up until kickoff in Lucas Oil Stadium against Ball State on August 31st.