Indiana football is set to begin fall camp this week as the 2023 season gets underway.
IU’s fall camp will go for three weeks, with practices, meetings, and other team activities loading up schedules. The Hoosiers are out to improve upon their 4-8 season from 2022.
Head coach Tom Allen spoke with media on Zoom Tuesday as camp starts to talk about his program. Here are a few key things he spoke about.
New weight room
On Monday, IU announced plans for a football-only weight room to go in the North End Zone at Memorial Stadium.
The existing weight room is also in the North End Zone, and other IU teams use the facility, not only football. Allen said the project is in the early stages, with no renderings or blueprints yet. IU’s press release on Monday indicated that planning is underway and the weight room is expected to be built by early 2024.
But this football-exclusive facility, Allen said, will be very beneficial for the program. It will bolster recruiting, and give the current team additional space to focus.
“I think big area of focus has been to be able to have a concentrated area to eliminate distractions.” Allen said. “And to be able to brand it in a way that it’s football-specific, I think that’s really important in recruiting just to show the importance of it. To me, I think the biggest thing is the focused training. We want to do a tremendous job of developing our players from a nutrition perspective as well as physically, their strength and development, their speed, to be able to grow as a player in those areas.”
Position battles entering camp
The Hoosiers have several positions and position groups with playing time up for grabs this fall.
Some are more obvious than others. IU’s quarterback battle has been the center of attention since spring, with neither Tayven Jackson or Brendan Sorsby pulling away with the job in April. Allen said at Big Ten Media Days that the team won’t announce a starter at quarterback until the Ohio State game to open the season.
IU dealt with a similar quarterback situation last year with Connor Bazelak and Jack Tuttle, although Jackson and Sorsby are younger.
Allen reiterated how well Jackson and Sorsby have handled this competition so far, attacking it cordially rather than with animosity.
“Sometimes there’s just a natural tension, it’s competition. Obviously they’re competitive guys by nature by playing that position already. But, man, they spend a lot of time together in the offseason doing things together away from football. Just have really developed a strong relationship, which I think is really important. It’s not always that way,” Allen said. “I think there’s two guys that enjoy being around each other, two different personalities. That part of it is unique without question.”
Outside of quarterback, Allen highlighted the revamped defensive line with a lot of new faces. He also said the running back, wide receiver, and tight end rooms could have competition with some new additions looking to earn immediate roles.
But Allen said the secondary is perhaps the biggest area with available playing time. IU lost a lot of veterans in the defensive backfield, with husky Noah Pierre the only returning starter. The Hoosiers saw strong efforts from several players in the position group during spring camp, and between younger players returning looking for bigger roles and transfer portal additions, there are a lot of directions IU could go.
“I think the one that probably sticks out is the secondary, corner position as well as the safeties,” Allen said. “I just think with the (amount) of turnover, the guys that had played for several years here, those guys doing a great job for us, graduating, moving on to the NFL, it’s really critical we find top guys. Just a lot of key competitions. I would say the one that would have the most new faces would be the secondary.”
Allen provided updates on three longer-term injuries at Big Ten Media Days last week, when he spoke about Matthew Bedford, Cam Camper, and Dexter Williams.
He said Bedford is back to 100 percent and will be an important veteran presence for the offensive line starting in fall camp. Camper, Allen said, is very close to being fully cleared to play, and he’s expected to be ready to go for the season-opener. Williams is continuing to rehab from his gruesome knee injury at the end of last season, and won’t be available for the beginning of the season. But Allen shared high hopes for Williams’ recovery timeline.
“We expect Dexter to play,” Allen said at Big Ten Media Days. “I think there’s going to come a point in the season where he comes back. That’s what I would expect. I don’t know when it’s going to be. But I do believe that.”
Those statuses have not changed. But Allen did have a few other notes around his roster as the team enters the season.
Wide receiver David Baker received a medical hardship waiver after missing all of 2022 with an injury. Offensive lineman Cameron Knight has retired from football.
But otherwise, Indiana’s roster remains unchanged. Allen said the Hoosiers avoided any major injuries in spring camp and over the summer. Some players have typical soft tissue issues, but nothing that should severely limit anyone in practices or workouts.
“We have a few hamstrings, some soft tissue things that you usually get in the course of the summer. Even with those guys, feel pretty good about where they are. Want to stay that way,” Allen said. “Really appreciate our strength and medical staff. They do a great job.”
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