I'm finally getting around to seeing the Indiana spring game from this past Saturday. If you missed it over the weekend you can find it still on the Big Ten Network playing sporadically or you can go to BTN.com and they have it uploaded there. You'll notice that the regular Jeremy Gray is on the call. However, Griffen Dahlstrom, recent graduate and linebacker at Indiana is also in the booth with Jeremy. I'm not sure if this is going to be a regular thing, but it wouldn't be too bad to have a player from the Wilson era spending time in the booth for the broadcast. Any insight into Coach Wilson and the defense for Indiana would be greatly appreciated this year. But anyway, onto the game.
As you saw in Ben's quick recap yesterday the teams were split into their usual Cream and Crimson. The Cream were led by Tre Roberson and the Crimson by Nate Sudfeld. The biggest thing I believe a lot of us were looking for was whether Tre or Nate looked poised to take over the top spot on the rotation. Unfortunately we didn't get a real good read on who will settle where. Roberson put up more scoring and turned the ball over less, but Sudfeld looked cleaner working in the pocket and getting his yardage. The jury will remain out probably most summer on that battle.
The rest of the offense comes into the year as a bit of a question. Indiana has to reload in the top two spots of their receiving corps and its going to be interesting to see who steps up. Most likely candidates from the Saturday game were Shane Wynn and Zeke Roundtree. For all of you Colts fans out there, I think you'll get excited when you hear Wynn compared to T.Y. Hilton. Both are small but blazing guys and with Wynn getting more targets I get a feeling we're going to get to see a lot of bombs going for 20+ yards. There aren't a lot of DBs that can stay in front of him. He finished the game with 5 receptions for 141 yards. Roundtree had several targets but only one reception by my count. Of course you should always keep an eye out for the younger guys. Especially the freshman Dominique Booth.
In regards to the running game, I think we're going to be OK. Tevin Coleman had limited touches as he's still not 100% from last year's injury, but with three carries he galloped for 61 yards. I think he'll be just fine. DeAngelo Roberts had the majority of carries for the Crimson squad and I'd say he's the favorite to be the second guy in the two man battery that we've become so used to seeing in all levels of football.
I know a lot of people are still very concerned about the defense and rightfully so. However, we didn't get a whole lot of information out of Saturday's game. New defensive coordinator Brian Knorr said after the game that we have only implemented about 50% of the playbook and the plays were all pretty vanilla. With some depth chart issues, it just wasn't possible to take any major talking points away from the game.
The defensive line did seem to hold better than years past. The linebackers were finding their gaps and stopping up places that previously leaked heavily in years past. Now of course this is just a spring game, but the LBs did seem to show better instincts and reaction speeds than last year. That's going to be big for IU. if the defense is going to hold up better it's going to have to come at the improvement of the linebackers.
The only play defensively that felt like a brutal facepalm was early in the game when Roberson kept the ball on a play action and took off untouched for 65 yard touchdown. Pretty much everybody (including myself) bit on the play fake. No one was even close to being able to provide resistance. Of course a lot of credit can go to the offense for selling the play, but you'd be forgiven if you're suffering from some PTSD.
Ultimately, you have to like what you saw in the spring game. It was basic enough that you can't really look into the crystal ball and make any drastic predictions. But there weren't many points where you just shook your head. Trust me, that's not something we could take for granted in years past. In the end, we're just going to have to continue to sit back and watch. There's a lot of work still to be done, but you can at least rest easy knowing that the offense is still going to be pretty darn potent if not one of the nation's best once again this year.