Thomas' Availability In Doubt For Ball State

Austin Thomas

Bloomington – The off week gave a handful of IU football players a chance to heal some lingering ailments, but an injury suffered at practice last week has another Hoosiers' availability in doubt.

Bloomington – The off week gave a handful of IU football players a chance to heal some lingering ailments, but an injury suffered at practice last week has another Hoosiers' availability in doubt.

IU Coach Bill Lynch said Tuesday starting strong safety Austin Thomas is questionable for Saturday's 7 p.m. match-up with Ball State due to a lower leg injury. The 6-2, 205-pound junior was the team's leading tackler a year ago with 112 stops, and he has seven tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble in the first two games of the '08 season.

"He won't be going much (in practice the next couple of days)," Lynch said. "We'll have to see where that goes."

If Thomas is unable to play Saturday, sophomore Jerimy Finch should get his most extended action of the season. The Florida transfer has been working to get up to speed with IU's defensive schemes since he was cleared to play last month, and is listed as the team's No. 2 strong safety behind Thomas.

"Joe Kleinsmith is ready to go too, and he can play either safety so we've got some flexibility," Lynch said. "Jerimy is that much further along."

Finch has played in each of IU's first two games, but most of his contributions have come on special teams. He has gotten some reps in the secondary after the Western Kentucky and Murray State games were both well in hand, and he's recorded one tackle.

"We're hopeful Austin can come back, but that's what the situation is," Lynch said.

While Thomas' status is up in the air, Lynch feels much better about the health of a handful of other players. Wide receiver Ray Fisher is back after missing the Murray State game with a shoulder injury, while defensive tackle Deonte Mack, wide receiver Andrew Means and offensive linemen Rodger Saffold, Pete Saxon and Mike Stark all took some time off during the off week.

"It's not that they wouldn't have kept playing, it was just good for them to take some time," Lynch said.

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