Bloomington – Ben Chappell isn't about to let some sore ribs derail his shot at leading the Indiana offense for the rest of the season.
The Hoosiers' sophomore quarterback was banged up enough that after leading IU to a 21-19 win over Northwestern Saturday he was unavailable to the media while he was getting checked out by the medical staff. Head coach Bill Lynch, meanwhile, deemed both of his quarterbacks' health situations serious enough to suggest that whoever is healthier on Saturday will start against Central Michigan.
Chappell isn't a doctor, but he's given himself a clean bill of health for Saturday.
"I'm fine, completely healthy," Chappell said.
Tuesday's practice seemed to back up Chappell's self-diagnosis. The 6'2", 233-pounder practiced for the full two hours on a chilly, blustery day at the IU practice fields. While the wind played havoc with most of the IU quarterbacks' throws at times, Chappell didn't appear to show any ill effects from a hard-hitting game against the Wildcats.
While Chappell appears to be ready and willing to start a third straight game, that decision might not come until Saturday morning. That's because Indiana's starter in the season's first six games, Kellen Lewis, was also back at practice as well.
Lewis suffered a high ankle sprain three weeks ago against Iowa, but looked dramatically better on Tuesday. The junior quarterback hobbled around the practice field early last week and didn't appear anywhere close to being ready, but on Tuesday he appeared to be back to himself and should be available Saturday as well.
With both likely ready to go, the IU coaching staff is faced with a dilemma – should they go back to Lewis, the dual threat signal caller who re-wrote the IU record books a year ago? Or should they stick with Chappell, the strong-armed pocket passer who inspired the team before the Northwestern contest with a pre-game speech and then helped lead the team to a win thanks to his 219-yard afternoon?
"It's up to the coaches," Chappell said. "Whatever they decide."
Chappell isn't making the decision an easy one thanks to his play and leadership against Northwestern. While many were ready to write off the season after IU's five-game losing streak, Chappell helped carry IU to a surprising win over a ranked team and inject some life back into the season.
"Like Coach Lynch said last week, all of our goals are still ahead of us," Chappell said. "I think that win made it that much closer. We have to keep going and get those goals."
The Bloomington native would love to the man to lead this football team in that quest, but first he has to get the green light from the coaching staff. It's unclear which way they're leaning right now, but Chappell wasn't about to give them an easy out because of an injury.
"I got a shot to the ribs, but I'm good now," Chappell said. "I'm fine. Good to go."
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