Will a couple of Hoosiers be ready to go? – Indiana has a couple of important players who were on the sidelines at practice Tuesday. Right tackle Charlie Emerson and safety Austin Thomas were both held out and listed as day-to-day after suffering head injuries in the win over Western Michigan.
Thomas was off to a five-tackle start Saturday before being sent to the sidelines with a concussion early in the second quarter. The timing of Emerson’s injury isn’t quite as obvious, but he was also held out of practice Tuesday and listed as day-to-day.
The staff appears confident that both will be ready to play in Saturday’s match-up against Akron. If they can’t, Thomas would likely be replaced by Joe Kleinsmith and Mitchell Evans. Kleinsmith missed the Western Michigan game with a hamstring injury but was back practicing Tuesday. Evans, meanwhile, recorded a couple of interceptions, two tackles and a pass broken up after replacing Thomas last weekend. Emerson would likely be replaced by redshirt freshman Mike Stark.
While the medical staff will monitor both closely all week in the hopes of them being ready for Akron, Bill Lynch realizes his team has been fortunate from an injury standpoint early on this season.
"If you look at our depth chart right now, everybody that reported to camp is healthy to play,” Lynch said.”You might lose a guy for a game or something like that, but there is nobody out there that is out for four or six weeks or for the season like a lot of the teams do."
Cutting Down on the Penalties – At the close of Tuesday’s practice, Hoosier defensive end Brian Faires was being put through a series of strenuous conditioning drills by defensive line coach Brian George, as a sort of punishment for some pre-snap penalties against Western Michigan. It’s an area that Lynch said his team needs to improve.
“We are certainly going to address it this week,” Lynch said. “Pre-snap and post-play penalties are the ones that you like to alleviate…It’s the ones where it’s a concentration thing, a focus thing. Those are the things you’ve got to get corrected, and those are the things that we are certainly going to address.”
The Hoosiers were flagged 11 times for 93 yards against the Broncos. Seven of those were pre-snap penalties, as they were flagged for four false starts, two off-sides infractions, and one illegal shift. That was a big drop-off from the Indiana State game when IU had only one pre-snap penalty, a delay of game.
While the miscues didn’t come back to haunt the team the first two weeks, Lynch doesn’t want to squander a big play due to a penalty nor to constantly put the offense in second or third-and-long situations. Eliminating pre- and post-snap penalties is a big part of that.
Avoiding a letdown – When the Hoosiers got the season underway, the hope was that they could get off to a 3-0 start heading into the Big Ten. The conventional thought was that if there was going to be a bump in the road it was going to come in Kalamazoo against a Western Michigan team that won eight games a year ago and was among the preseason favorites to win the conference’s 2007 crown.
Indiana managed to jump to a big lead early and hold on late to get past the Broncos and position itself for its second 3-0 start in the last three years. The only thing standing in its way is an Akron team that was 5-7 a year ago and has lost seven out of eight road games dating back to the start of the ’06 campaign.
That’s a recipe for success for the Hoosiers, but also for a letdown.
One thing that is in the Hoosiers’ favor is the fact so many of IU’s current staff members played and/or coached in the MAC, so they’re familiar with the mentality the Zips will have when they get a chance to knock off a Big Ten team. All of the Hoosiers’ defensive assistant coaches played in the MAC, while the offensive staff includes two who played and coached in the MAC (Billy Lynch, Bobby Johnson) and one who was an offensive coordinator in the MAC (Matt Canada).
“There is certainly no one on our staff that takes anybody for granted, and they know the kind of football that can be played there,” Lynch said. “And all those guys that were at Miami, they have a whole wall full of big time of victories against major BCS schools, so they've been in those games where they've won them, so they know what it is like."
What’s coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players To Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction