Hoosier Practice Report - Day 12

Terry Hoeppner

BLOOMINGTON-With Saturday's public scrimmage looming, Coach Terry Hoeppner's Hoosiers went through an abbreviated Friday morning practice at Memorial Stadium, as the typical 2 ½ hour practice was cut by 45 minutes. The Hoosiers were scheduled to return to the practice fields Friday afternoon for a second Friday session.

BLOOMINGTON-With Saturday's public scrimmage looming, Coach Terry Hoeppner's Hoosiers went through an abbreviated Friday morning practice at Memorial Stadium, as the typical 2 ½ hour practice was cut by 45 minutes. The Hoosiers were scheduled to return to the practice fields Friday afternoon for a second Friday session.

Saturday's scrimmage should say a lot about what Hoeppner's intentions are at quarterback. While Hoeppner and the staff haven't publicly named sophomore Blake Powers as the starter, the 6-5, 235-pounder has been getting the bulk of the work with the No. 1 offensive unit. Junior Graeme McFarland, meanwhile, has been the No. 2 with true freshman Kellen Lewis turning some heads as the No. 3.

"We haven't gone through a live scrimmage yet, so we'll go through tomorrow's and see where we go (with the quarterbacks)," said quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Matt Canada. "I'm sure Coach Hoeppner will address it at that point. We're going to go with the best guy, and right now nothing is decided yet."

Powers, like the rest of the quarterbacks, has looked very good at times this fall, but has also struggled with consistency, and on occasion, decision-making. But there's no mistaking the fact that Powers has excellent size, a strong arm and good athleticism, the sort of tools that suggest he has a chance to be a very good quarterback in Hoeppner's system.

Saturday's scrimmage will give Powers an extended opportunity to work with the No. 1 unit in an 11-on-11 format, most likely against the No. 1 defense. Instead of splitting the No. 1 units up in an effort to make a more competitive contest, Saturday's scrimmage will likely feature the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defensive units staying in tact.

Don't be surprised, though, to see McFarland and Lewis do some good things on Saturday as well. Canada said all three have had their moments this fall, and he's hoping all three shine tomorrow.

"There are some days when they look really sharp and really good, and then there are other days we come out and we need to be better," said Canada.

"It's typical stuff. We have to play fast, and we have to play smart. We're in a position now where we now what we're doing, and we have to do it quickly, and we have to do it smart. We can't do dumb things, make dumb mistakes. We have to keep the team in good positions. That's the challenge right now."

One player who won't be able to suit up on Saturday is freshman Emile Bass. The 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle from Detroit has joined the team, but due to the NCAA-mandated "acclimation period", Bass can't practice in pads for five days. Saturday will mark the fourth day that Bass has participated, so he should be ready to put the pads on early next week.

"I'm really excited to put the pads on, because right now I go through the drills, and then when they come to offense vs. defense, I'm sitting on the sidelines," said Bass. "It's hard to describe – it's really frustrating."

Bass wound up missing the first 10 days of fall camp while a clerical error was resolved with the NCAA Clearinghouse. It was a particularly tough situation for Bass, since the issue didn't have anything to do with his status as a qualifier. But the defensive tackle is glad to have the matter behind him so that he can focus on getting back on the field.

"It was all kind of crazy, because it wasn't anything that I did," said Bass. "So it was kind of irritating, and a little depressing to be sitting at home watching all the other teams on ESPN go to camp. I'm just glad to be here now."

OTHER NOTES: - Lance Bennett was back on the field Friday, working out not only on returns but at wide receiver as well. Bennett continues to challenge for playing time as a slot receiver. James Hardy, meanwhile, wasn't in action again, although he is expected back any day.

- Bloomington's Kyle Thomas, who started the fall as a No. 2 defensive end before slipping to the No. 3 unit behind true freshman Jammie Kirlew, worked out some on the offensive line Friday and was being tutored by offensive line coach Bobby Johnson.

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