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IU football notebook: Tom Allen talks IU’s offense after spring practice

Indiana football is continuing to work through its spring practices.

The Hoosiers held their fifth practice of spring on Thursday, as they build up towards their spring football fan event on April 15.

Head coach Tom Allen met with the media afterwards on Thursday to talk about the team’s spring progress and various position groups. Here are some of the noteworthy things that came up.

Learning curve without Camper

Indiana’s quarterback situation is uncertain heading into next season.

This spring could play a factor in how the depth chart shakes out in the fall, as the room is full of underclassmen. Redshirt freshmen Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby join true freshman Broc Lowry as the primary passers this spring. Walk-on Blaze McKibbin is the only upperclassman in the room.

Dexter Williams is a redshirt junior, but isn’t playing this spring as he rehabs from his gruesome leg injury suffered at the end of the season.

And his isn’t the only rehab impacting the quarterbacks this offseason. They don’t have their top wideout, Cam Camper, available this spring, either, as he recovers from a torn ACL from late October.

Allen said Camper is coming along on schedule, and he expects the quarterbacks to get acclimated with the senior over the summer when he’s cleared for activity.

“The comfortability with receivers, timing with receivers that’s something that doesn’t just happen quickly. That’s going to be all through spring and summer, all the sessions they’ll have together when they throw with each other in the summertime and then into fall camp,” Allen said. “Cam’s doing fine, we were talking about him yesterday. Not surprised, but his mindset in his rehab has been impressive, and it just has to continue and I know it will.”

Other wideouts stepping up

But Camper’s absence has allowed other receivers a bigger opportunity this spring.

Allen said Donaven McCulley has been making plays, and is continuing to grow in that position after moving from quarterback ahead of last season. McCulley and Andison Coby are the two wideouts available this spring that saw significant action for the Hoosiers last year.

IU’s head coach added that he’s also seen positives from redshirt freshman Omar Cooper Jr. and Kamryn Perry.

“They make plays, especially Omar. He’s been consistent with that. And Kam is so dynamic and explosive. See him as a guy to be able to be in that slot position, and multiple ways to get him the ball, as well,” Allen said. “Those guys have made progress like they needed to. But just to continue, growth has to be there. I’m looking for consistency every day.”

Tight ends in flux

As we recently highlighted, Indiana’s tight end room is young and inexperienced heading into next year.

With AJ Barner transferring to Michigan, there is playing time available at tight end. Aaron Steinfeldt and James Bomba saw the field in small spurts last season as backups, but they aren’t locks to start next year.

Allen touched on his tight end group Thursday, and said some of them have been out of action this spring because of postseason surgeries. But he praised Steinfeldt, redshirt senior Trey Walker, and redshirt freshman Brody Foley.

He added that true freshman Sam West has been a pleasant surprise, and has put on “a lot of good weight.”

But Foley, in particular, has impressed Allen.

“The ideal situation is a guy that can do both, he can create those explosive plays, and he can move inside and block effectively in the Big Ten. It’s a unique skill set. Hard to find,” Allen said. “Right now, we feel like Brody kind of gives us the best of both of those.”

All eyes on the offensive line

This is a big spring for Indiana’s offensive line.

The unit has been a weak spot for IU for the last couple years. But Allen brought in a coach with a strong Big Ten track record in Bob Bostad, and the team has a lot of returning pieces on the line. If he can turn around the offensive line play and get that group playing more consistently in 2023, it could completely change IU’s offensive outlook.

Allen said the group has responded well to the new coaching this spring. In particular, he’s liked what he’s seen from redshirt freshman Carter Smith, redshirt sophomore Vinny Fiacable, redshirt junior Kahlil Benson, redshirt senior Mike Katic, and redshirt senior Zach Carpenter.

“I’ve been really encouraged by that group. (Bostad) is doing a great job with them,” Allen said. “I love the drill work, I love the attention to detail, I love the intensity and toughness that he’s created with our guys. He’s a no-nonsense guy. I think he’s going to see — I’m expecting improvement in that area.”

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