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IU football notebook: Offensive line and running backs developing

Indiana football’s spring camp is in full swing now.

The Hoosiers held their seventh practice of the spring on Tuesday, as they continue working towards their Spring Fan Event in mid-April — and, of course, working to improve for the fall.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Mike Katic, sophomore running back Jaylin Lucas, and fifth-year senior Josh Henderson met with the media afterward on Tuesday to talk about Indiana’s offense. Here’s some key points from those interviews.

Offensive line adjusting to coaching change

Bob Bostad took over as Indiana’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator in the offseason, so this month has been the first time those players have worked with him on the field.

Katic said that Bostad’s experience and intensity shines through in his coaching. That’s evident off the field as well. He said Bostad can spot a lot of different things while watching film — Katic said those breakdowns aren’t that different than it was with other coaches, but Bostad just comes off like he really knows what he’s talking about.

And, Katic said, practices have become more physical for the offensive line. They do a lot more work now facing off against the defensive line, both in the pass protection and run blocking.

“There’s a lot of physicalness that goes on with the O-line (and) D-line, and I think it’s good,” Katic said. “Makes us both better, and it gives us more of a live feel of what a game is going to be like, because you can only do so much when the O-line’s kind of servicing the O-line. But when you get the defensive line against the O-line, it kind of gives us that live feel.”

Continuity on the line

A big key for IU’s offensive line heading into this season is that a lot of the main pieces are back.

Katic has played several seasons with redshirt seniors Zach Carpenter and Matthew Bedford, and he got plenty of experience alongside redshirt junior Kahlil Benson and redshirt sophomore Josh Sales last year. He said that cohesiveness has been noticeable this spring.

“I think we’re very comfortable with each other, and that makes it easier to communicate and make calls and work double teams,” Katic said. “And so I think the cohesiveness and communication has been really good this spring ball so far.”

Some newcomers and younger players have also stood out to Katic this spring. He praised redshirt senior transfer Max Longman — who Katic said doesn’t have a big adjustment to Indiana’s offense after working with offensive coordinator Walt Bell at UMass. The veteran has also seen positives from redshirt freshman Bray Lynch and true freshman William Larkins.

Running backs developing their games

Indiana’s running back room returns two of its three key players from last season in Lucas and Henderson.

Tom Allen has talked before about finding ways to get both of them on the field together next season. Both players factored into Indiana’s passing game last season, and Lucas, in particular, could be a good fit to line up at slot receiver in some packages.

“We’re all very dynamic,” Henderson said. “Jaylin is a fast guy. He’s got great cuts. That’s something that I want to incorporate in my game. I’m more of a physical guy, that’s something he’s working on. So we’ve all got different things that we can take from each other.”

Lucas said he’s looked towards Wake Forest transfer Christian Turner, as well, to pick up some things from a physicality standpoint.

Turner rushed for 516 yards on 128 carries with seven touchdowns last season for the Demon Deacons, and figures to be part of IU’s backfield equation in 2023. Henderson has been impressed with what he’s seen from Turner so far.

“He’s good,” Henderson said. “He’s got good size. He kills us in the weight room. He’s got great cuts on the field. And we’re all taking pieces from each other. He’s a guy that came in and he’s he’s doing a really good job right now.”

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