Written by Evan McShane (@veryreasonable)
The annual Cream & Crimson game, Indiana’s spring football game, was held on Friday night. A crisp evening at Memorial Stadium offered a glimpse at IU’s new-look offense under Kalen DeBoer. Multiple players were inactive or limited, such as Jack Tuttle, Stevie Scott, Ronnie Walker, Sampson James, Nick Westbrook, Whop Philyor and others. This presented an opportunity for some younger players like Kristian Pechac and Miles Marshall. Although the defense outplayed Indiana’s offense, several Hoosiers showed promising signs. Contrary to the defense’s stellar performance, Ramsey and the offense was victorious based on the scoring system:
Almost immediately, offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s presence was felt. Early on the first drive when Donavan Hale found a crease in the zone and grabbed Ramsey’s pass for a 33-yard gain. The Hoosiers were playing fast and being aggressive. Indiana’s offensive attack was much more north-south than east-west. Perhaps the most impressive individual performance on offense was Hale. He used his 6-foot-4 frame to bully IU cornerbacks all night. Hale has a unique combination of size and explosiveness. He is quick off the line and a perpetual deep threat but can also wisely use his body for possession. Now that he is fully healthy, Hale knows he’s ready for a monster senior season. Hale might be one of the individuals to most benefit from the arrival of Kalen DeBoer. In total, Hale notched seven catches for approximately 85 yards. Donavan Hale has a chance to be special, and he knows it.
Young wide receivers also had a chance to produce. Redshirt freshmen Miles Marshall and Jacolby Hewitt saw their first action under the lights. Marshall caught a 24-yard pass and a 19-yard touchdown from Mike Penix Jr. Peyton Hendershot was the lone tight end to see action and the position group was not targeted much. Junior wide out Ty Fryfogle played a key role, securing four passes for around 90 yards, including this 39-yard touchdown strike:
That nice strike from Peyton Ramsey was his top highlight of the evening as well. Ramsey was his usual self on Friday, completing 24-of-37 passes for approximately 270 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Ramsey, now in his junior year, was clearly looking downfield more than he did last year. It was evident Ramsey has improved his aggressiveness and arm strength. The quarterback battle will be very intense this summer. Jack Tuttle missed the game with a short-term illness and Mike Penix was limited to 7-on-7 play. Penix demonstrated his impressive arm, although it can be difficult to judge a player with no offensive or defensive lines. Overall, Penix completing around 8-of-15 passes and a touchdown for somewhere in the ballpark of 100 yards.
Speaking of offensive lines, this position group figures to be a strength for the Hoosiers. The O-line is led by three seniors and features a number of players with an opportunity to fill a larger role. As usual, offensive lines are always subject to depth concerns, and this year is no different for Indiana. The starting unit figures to be solid, but it will be interesting to see who else will step up. The Hoosiers rested all of their scholarship running backs. Redshirt sophomore Ahrod Lloyd and Kristian Pechac took all of the team’s carries. They both had solid outings, each with a 2-yard touchdown.
Spring games can often be disjointed and difficult to translate to true game action. Still, the Indiana offense offered a sneak peak at what they will look like next fall. Playing uptempo and stretching the field will be a hallmark of the Hoosier attack. The talent level in Bloomington is on the rise and that was evident during Friday’s Cream & Crimson game.