Hoosiers looking for improvement
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent September 4, 2012 11:58PM
The Big Number
0 — The number of sacks the Hoosiers allowed against Indiana State. IU quarterbacks were sacked 31 times last season, and the Hoosiers allowed at least one sack in every game in 2011.
Wilson continues to be a huge fan of freshman left tackle Jason Spriggs.
Before the season, Wilson called Spriggs one of the best freshmen he’s ever coached. And with just one game on Spriggs’ college resume, Wilson is already talking about the Elkhart native playing in the NFL.
Of course, he’s going to have to bulk up. He’s listed at 268 pounds; Wilson thinks he can get up to 310. That may take awhile, though.
“Based on what I saw him eating for lunch, longer than I think,” Wilson said.
Updated: October 6, 2012 1:58PM
Indiana’s coaches wanted to accentuate the positives while noting there’s room for improvement after the Hoosiers’ season-opening win over Indiana State.
On the bright side, the young offensive line — which included two true freshmen starters — didn’t allow a sack and paved the way for 171 yards on the ground.
And while Indiana State running back Shakir Bell did run for 192 yards, 100 of those came on three carries. The rest of his stat line: 92 yards on 21 carries, a respectable 4.4 yards per attempt.
“A lot of the things that we gave up, we were misaligned,” co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler said Tuesday.
Special teams? Well, the Hoosiers at least have two fast punt returners in Nick Stoner and Shane Wynn.
“We need a lot more in the kicking game than what we got on Saturday,” IU coach Kevin Wilson acknowledged on Tuesday.
Mitch Ewald made just one of his three field goal tries against the Sycamores, with one kick hitting the upright and another getting blocked. Valparaiso native Mitchell Voss averaged just 32 yards on his four punts.
And while none of Voss’ punts were returned and Ewald put two of his five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, the Sycamores still averaged 26.3 yards on three kickoff returns.
The Hoosiers are hopeful that what they saw in practice on Monday and Tuesday carries over to the next game, Saturday against Massachusetts (0-1) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
“We had the best practice we’ve had since we’ve been here today,” Ekeler said Tuesday.
Of course, the Hoosiers had good practices late last week and still struggled at times against Indiana State. While the Sycamores never ran a play in the red zone, IU failed to take advantage when its offense got in scoring position.
“The negative was we crossed the 50-yard line seven times and scored on three of those,” said offensive coordinator Seth Littrell.
Some of that can be traced to concessions to the young line.
“I did think that we were a little conservative, trying to protect the young linemen,” Wilson said. “That might be one of the reasons why it was a little close, one of the reasons why we didn’t complete some drives.
“As a coach, you gain confidence as you play in what your players can do, and I think coach Littrell, (assistant offensive coordinator Kevin) Johns and (run game coordinator Greg) Frey will be a little more assertive as … you truly see what (the players) can and can’t do.”