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Indiana Football: Seven burning Spring Game questions

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Kevin Wilson's squad takes the Memorial Stadium field tomorrow for the Cream and Crimson Game. Here's what to watch for during the scrimmage.

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1. How will Nate Sudfeld look after recovering from a separated shoulder?

Against Iowa midway through the season, Indiana starting QB Nate Sudfeld separated his shoulder, an injury that immediately required surgery, ending both his season and Indiana's chances of making a bowl game in 2014. Sudfeld is back for one more season, and should be the clear-cut starter yet again for the Hoosiers coming into the fall. Sudfeld had some erratic performances while healthy, as he played very well against Mizzou and Bowling Green, but struggled in other games, including the Maryland loss. However, he was a reliable first-stringer, and his presence was sorely missed during the second half of last season, so IU will benefit from having him back for his senior year.

2. Who will replace Tevin Coleman's production in the backfield?

Coleman's pro day was earlier this week in Bloomington, with scouts from all 32 NFL teams on hand. His 40 time was clocked in at 4.35 seconds. And despite running backs no longer being a top commodity in the NFL Draft, it wouldn't surprise me if Coleman were a second-round pick in two weeks. With Coleman gone, the Hoosiers will have to replace a lot of the backfield production. Between him, and the now-departed D'Angelo Roberts and Shane Wynn (a WR who scored a couple touchdowns on end-arounds late in the season), the Hoosiers are losing their top three rushers from last season. These three combined for over 84% of the Hoosiers' 3,163 total rushing yards.

To replace Coleman, the Hoosiers have brought in Jordan Howard, a transfer from the now-defunct UAB football program, who rushed for almost 1,600 yards last year. However, it's unlikely that fans will see him on the field tomorrow, as he hyperextended his elbow during practice a couple weeks ago. Other RBs on the depth chart include Devine Redding and Tommy Mister.

3. Can linebacker Tegray Scales become an impact player on defense?

As a true freshman, Scales was very effective on the defensive side of the ball last season. He seemed to be everywhere on the field, grabbing three interceptions, making two sacks, and posting 46 tackles in all. If Scales, along with rising senior Zach Shaw, can continue to show consistency in the Spring Game, then the Hoosiers' linebacking corps should be in good shape. Another linebacker, T.J. Simmons, will miss the scrimmage tomorrow.

4. Who else will lead on the defensive side of the ball?

Under first-year DC Brian Knorr, the Hoosier defense showed some growing pains, especially due to the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 system. While the defense didn't look as entirely hopeless as it did the previous season, the Hoosiers still gave up over 30 points in seven out of 12 games. Up front, Darius Latham will lead a defensive line that will lose Bobby Richardson to graduation. And in the secondary, look to Antonio Allen and Chase Dutra to lead the way, as both posted multiple interceptions last season.

5. Can the Hoosier receivers do a better job at holding onto passes?

Last season, a typical IU football game featured multiple dropped passes from the Hoosier wideouts, as the group suffered from the losses of Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes, and tight end Ted Bolser. Tevin COleman was the fourth-leading receiver last season, meaning that the group has plenty of room to improve. During the Spring Game, fans will see how guys like J-Shun Harris, Dominique Booth, Simmie Cobbs, and Jordan Fuchs (who was lasting seen moonlighting with the hoops team) do at reeling in passes. Another name to watch for on Saturday will be Marqui Hawkins, another UAB transfer who joins the Hoosiers as a wide receiver. Interestingly enough, Hawkins has yet to play a down of college football, as he redshirted at Florida two years ago and sat out at UAB due to his transfer status last season; thus he is less of a known commodity as Jordan Howard.

6. Will left tackle Jason Spriggs become one of the premier offensive linemen in the B1G?

Against Michigan State, Spriggs was taken to the hospital at the end of a blowout loss, and many wondered if the left tackle would play again. However, he was discharged later that night and returned to the field a few weeks later. Now, the 6-7 Spriggs enters his senior year with a chance to again make an impact as Sudfeld's blind-side protector. Kevin Wilson's fast-paced offense relies on a strong offensive line, so if Spriggs continues to improve in his final season, the entire offense will continue to benefit. And according to Mike Miller, the Hoosiers have another 6-7 guy in Dimitric Camiel taking first-string reps at left guard, meaning that that side of the ball will be massive.


7. Finally, what’s the status of our site’s mascot/patron saint (as well as the rest of the backup QB situation)?

It's no secret that the CQ staffers are all fans of Zander Diamont, the true freshman third-string QB who started the last six games of the season and scored the winning touchdown in the Bucket game. However, he was never even supposed to see the field last year - he had to burn his redshirt after both Sudfeld and backup Chris Covington went down against Iowa. Now, Covington is reverting back to being a linebacker, leaving Diamont as the true backup. As of now, it seems yet to be determined whether Diamont will play next season or redshirt the 2015 season and prep for 2016. Other possibilities at QB during the Spring Game include Nate Boudreau and Danny Cameron.

The Indiana Crimson and Cream Game will take place at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. ADMISSION IS FREE.