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Spring notes: No spring game in Bloomington this year; Allen impressed with several youngsters

Spring football is entering the home stretch on 17th street

Maryland v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

During a busy week for both basketball programs, Indiana football hit the midway mark of its spring football period. Here’s the latest from Mellencamp Pavilion:

Spring game canceled

Indiana’s 15th and final workout of the spring won’t be a game. It will be a practice, instead.

Tom Allen said Wednesday that the annual Cream and Crimson game will not take place for a second consecutive year, a format change that the IU coach believes is best for his program given the state of things this spring.

Initial reaction? Mehh. Indiana’s decision to opt for a toned-down spring finale is unsurprising given a few considerations:

  • Spring games are pretty much a waste of time! Hey, if you’re one of the few who take advantage of a chance to tailgate on a spring afternoon/evening in Bloomington, more power to you. But coaches generally don’t seem to get much more out of these watered-down intrasquad exhibitions than they would from a normal practice/scrimmage setup. Maybe at schools where crowds of at least 40,000 folks show up, it could be argued that these events are good ways to test inexperienced players in game-like environments. But that, as we know, is not the case at IU. Rather than worry about simulating slapdash game conditions, it seems IU will organize its final practice of the spring with some scrimmage components.
  • It doesn’t seem like IU is likely to open its gates to fans anytime soon, so there’s no reason to go through the motions of a fan-centric event. Last week, after the Big Ten announced that attendance policies for the remainder of the academic year would follow local guidelines and restrictions, IndyStar’s Zach Osterman reported that IU was not planning — at least not immediately — to change its campus policy for fans.
  • College football remains in its year-long recruiting dead period, so a spring game can’t even double as a showcase event for visiting prospects this year. The dead period currently runs through May 31.
  • IU only has one available scholarship quarterback (Jack Tuttle) at the moment. So. Yeah.

The absence of a spring game isn’t the only change in IU’s practice schedule this month. The program had to cancel a practice last week “out of an abundance of caution,” though it did not offer any further details on the situation that required that caution to begin with. That means IU has the ability to add an extra practice to the back end of its spring schedule in April. What’s most likely, Allen said, is that IU will use that extra allowance of time on task to do smaller, less intensive training rather than staging a full-bore practice.

Several younger players catching Allen’s eyes

The IU coach named several young, inexperienced players on both sides of the ball who have impressed the Hoosiers’ coaching staff through the first few weeks of spring ball. That list includes:

  • TE A.J. Barner
  • OL Tim Weaver
  • OL Randy Holt
  • S Bryson Bonds
  • DT C.J. Person
  • DT Damarjhe Lewis
  • DB Christopher Keys
  • P James Evans

Allen has also been pleased with the way Ole Miss transfer Ryder Anderson, a defensive end, and Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews, a receiver and return man, have acclimated to the program during their first couple of months on campus.

Marshall trying to take next step

Miles Marshall has the frame that his position coach, Grant Heard, covets in recruits. At 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, the rising junior is a big target for IU quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Now, as Marshall enters his third year on the field for the Hoosiers, Heard wants the Georgia native to use that size to his advantage.

“We are trying to get him to play more physical and let people feel his presence out there on the field with his blocking and 50/50 balls,” Heard said.

Marshall finished third on the team in 2020 with 290 receiving yards on 19 receptions with one touchdown. Per Pro Football Focus, Marshall caught six contested balls in 11 opportunities and picked up 88 yards after the catch.

“I have to keep working hard,” Marshall said. “I have to keep getting faster. I got to work on my hands and my releases. I just have to become a better player to get the things I want to do. My goal is to end up in the NFL, so I have a couple more years to achieve that goal.”