Bloomington, Ind. – News and notes from Bill Lynch’s season-ending press conference Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium…
The Hoosiers had a handful of players miss the all or a portion of the season due to injury, and now they’ll have a couple of more go under the knife now that the season has come to a close.
Lynch said guard guard Pete Saxon, defensive tackle Greg Brown and running back Bryan Payton all have upcoming shoulder surgeries. None of the injuries are considered overly serious, although Lynch said Saxon is having enough done on his shoulder that he’ll likely be limited during spring practice.
In addition to that trio, Tyler Replogle (ACL), Terrance Turner (ACL), Brad Martin (ankle), James Brewer (foot) and Dan Rutigliano (ACL) all had either in-season or preseason surgeries that had them on the shelf. Lynch said Replogle and Turner will both likely be limited during the spring, while Brewer’s status is uncertain.
“James, we have to get him healthy,” Lynch said. “He’s still got the boot on his foot. That’s one of those tough injuries when you’re a big, big man like that, when you’ve got a foot problem. Certainly hope by spring ball he’s out there and ready to go, because he’s got quickness and size.”
One thing that Lynch does know about next year’s team is that they’ll be bigger along the offensive line.
Indiana loses three starters in center Ben Wyss, right guard Jonathan Sandberg and right tackle Charlie Emerson, but Lynch thinks he’ll be able to replace that trio with players that have plenty of potential and some added size. Lynch said Wyss played at 273, Emerson was between 276-280 and Sandberg was in the 288-290-pound range.
In this day and age, that’s not huge by college football standards.
“If you look at (all of the bowl) teams, we might have been the smallest offensive line,” Lynch said. “We weren’t a very big offensive line for BCS football.”
While there figures to be plenty of competition at center and on the right side of the offensive line before the 2008 season opener, Lynch likes the sort of options that he and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson will have to choose from.
“(Tackle) Mike Stark…he’s a much bigger guy, he looks like one of those Big Ten offensive tackles,” Lynch said. “Cody Faulkner will line up at 300, 305 and he’s re-shaped his body from when he got here. Then Alex Perry, he’ll be 295 or so. So we’ll be a bigger offensive line.”
Another position with some question marks is cornerback, where IU loses seniors Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors. Lynch said he feels good about senior-to-be Chris Phillips’s abilities and experience, but the other position figures to be wide open.
“Of all the places, that’s where you don’t have the answers right now,” Lynch said. “At corner, it’s wide open.”
The most experienced corner on the roster is Bruce Hampton based on the fact he’s traveled with the team, while Adrian Burks received plenty of work with the No. 2s this season. But it’s a good bet that some youngsters will get a close look as well.
“Donnell Jones and Chris Adkins are guys that in bowl practice really jumped out to us,” Lynch said. “They’re probably a little bigger, more physical type corners.”
Lynch hopes to have a couple of players surface so that it’s clear who the top three corners will be in the fall. Unlike other positions, Lynch said cornerback is a spot where you want to be settled on who is going to play.
“You can play tailbacks you can substitute offensive linemen, you can substitute linebackers, safeties, but cornerbacks are like quarterbacks – you don’t have tryouts in the middle of the game, generally,” Lynch said.
There will be some position changes coming for the IU football team this spring. Lynch just doesn’t know where yet. Spring practice is often the time to try players at new positions, and Indiana figures to give that a try in a couple of months.
“That’s one of the fun parts of this job – you take your personnel, and what can you to put them in a position to be even better,” Lynch said.
One player who has been rumored to be making a switch is Marcus Thigpen, the team’s top tailback this fall. But after rushing for 140 yards on 19 carries against Purdue and another 56 yards on 11 carries against Oklahoma State, Lynch said the staff liked what they saw from the senior-to-be, and now they’re trying to figure out ways to give him a chance to make more big plays.
“With a guy like Marcus, it’s getting him in the right spot and doing some things offensively to get the ball in his hands,” Lynch said.
As recruiting begins to wind down, the IU staff will begin sitting down to sort through its needs, examine the players on the roster, and see if there are some guys that can help the team as well as themselves at a new spot on the field.
“There will be (some moves),” Lynch said. “When we were sitting here a year ago, we probably didn’t see (Justin) Carrington starting in a bowl game. Sitting here a year ago we didn’t see Nick Polk starting at safety in a bowl game. Two years ago you probably wouldn’t have seen Charlie Emerson playing offensive tackle.
“Something will come up. We’ll make some moves. I think a lot of it is to give the player a better opportunity and also to create competition at different positions.”