Indiana began preseason camp Friday, and energy was high on the practice fields in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers are coming off a 4-8 season and want to meet raised expectations this year, coach Kevin Wilson said. The aspirations are even higher internally.
And, surprisingly, it seems IU exceeded those goals for the first practice.
"There were no mental errors," offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said.
That doesn't mean the practice was perfect, but it was impressive to the coaching staff. The Hoosiers worked hard in the offseason, and many of them exceeded goals in the weight room before camp started.
The team has more size, more talent and more depth. What that means won't be clear until Aug. 29, when IU plays its first game, but the positive results today mean something for Wilson.
"The depth is so there's competition and you're fighting to get on the field," he said. "The competition is going to raise the expectations."
Hoobler suffers stress fracture
Linebacker Chase Hoobler will miss the start of the season, and could require surgery for a stress fracture in his foot, Wilson said.
Hoobler, a redshirt junior, won't be available until the "back end" of the season regardless of if he gets surgery.
"You feel for him," Wilson said of the returning starter, who broke his ankle last season. "He's one of our better players, you would think."
The defense has several options to replace Hoobler, including newcomer T.J. Simmons, who joined the program in the spring and has impressed the coaches.
David Cooper could see a move to outside linebacker as a result, and the staff feels good about its depth at the position despite losing Hoobler.
Academics hold 3 signees back
Three 2013 signees didn't report to Bloomington for the first practice, and all had different reasons for their absence.
Defensive tackle Maurice Swain didn't qualify and will attend junior college, as previously reported. Hoosiers picked up Nate Hoff, a 318-pound prep school defensive tackle, late in the signing period because they knew Swain might not make the grades.
Taj Williams, a late signee and four-star prospect, will be a midyear addition should he qualify, Wilson said.
"Taj, the timeline is right where he's eligible but can't get it all processed possibly before the start of the semester," Wilson said. "There's things he's got to do, but it's realistic to do."
The same goes for Daryl Chestnut, a three-star running back who could report this fall if his summer work went well. IU is still waiting on scores.
If Chestnut didn't make the cut, then he is another midyear option.
"It's a matter of just some red tape, and those two are close enough," Wilson said. "The goal is to get them sooner rather than later."
Secondary much deeper than 2012
IU safety Mark Murphy said he's seen plenty of promise in the latest additions to the Hoosiers' secondary.
Antonio Allen, Rashard Fant, Chase Dutra and Noel Padmore are expected to compete for playing time in their freshman seasons. Allen and Fant, in particular, have gotten rave reviews.
"They're more than capable," Murphy said of the group. "They're ahead of the curve, which is very nice to see and will help them out and get them playing faster."
Tim Bennett made the move from safety to cornerback to help with depth at that position, as well, defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said. A secondary that got burned thanks to a lack of depth last season looks much steadier as the fall of 2013 approaches.
"We just have a lot more depth than we ever have before," Murphy said. "Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and it's made us very cohesive."
Wideout confident in his QBs
Wide receiver Duwyce Wilson has caught balls from all three of IU's potential starting quarterbacks this summer: Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld.
And regardless of who wins the job, the senior wideout expects the quarterback to excel.
"We have a great relationship with all three of them," he said. "Whoever wins the spot, congratulations to them, and we know we'll all be on the same page anyways since we've all gone with each other the whole summer."
Kevin Wilson said he liked some of what he saw from the signal callers today, but expects better as camp goes on. However, he understood the pressure on the trio, all of whom want the starting job.
One quarterback, he said, took a throw downfield for an attempt at a big play during practice Friday.
He told the coach he saw an opening, but Kevin Wilson was quick to remind him that making the reads, and trusting the offense, is more important than big plays during camp.
"I think they need to be better," he said. "Those guys got a lot of stress on them right now. They don't but they do – they want the job, so they're pressing and all that stuff."
Weight room is kind to Hoosiers
The team roster featured a lot of positive adjustments to weights for players at all positions. It seems Mark Hill and the rest of the strength and conditioning staff got some work done this offseason.
Roberson, post-leg injury, is at 200 pounds. That's a major improvement from his 165 frame early in his recovery.
Last season's starters on the offensive line, on average, are nearly 20 pounds heavier than in 2012.
And a pair of new players – David Kenney and Nate Hoff – showed off some notable size on the defensive line. Hoff is the heaviest player on the team at 318 pounds and came in as one of the strongest players on the team with a 470-pound bench max, Mallory said.
Kenney, meanwhile, looks a lot bigger than he did during his senior year of high school. The former Pike standout has put on 20 pounds during the summer and sits at 6-foot-2, 272 pounds as a defensive end.