BLOOMINGTON – Indiana’s All-Big Ten quarterback will be behind center for Saturday’s opener against Western Kentucky.
But the Hoosiers will be without an All-Big Ten defensive lineman.
Bill Lynch confirmed that Kellen Lewis will start against the Hilltoppers. Lynch also announced that four players, including All-American defensive end Greg Middleton, will serve a one-game suspension for disciplinary reasons.
Safety Brandon Mosley, defensive end Kyle Kozak and tight end Troy Wagner were also punished.
Lynch did not want to expand on the subject during his Tuesday news conference.
Middleton led the nation with 16 sacks last season, setting the school’s single-season record previously held by Van Waiter (14 in 1987).
Ryan Marando will replace Middleton in the starting lineup.
While Middleton’s absence comes as a surprise, Lewis’ return does not. A second-team All-Big Ten pick, Lewis officially reclaimed the starting sport from Ben Chappell.
Lewis missed all of spring camp while serving a suspension. Lynch reinstated him in early July and announced an open competition between Lewis and Chappell.
“We’ve got two guys that we feel really good about and that we can win in the Big Ten with. I think the competition made them both better,” Lynch said. “… Obviously, Kellen has a year and a half of experience and has played in some awful big football games and has played very, very well. And I think the competition has made him better. I think he’s been sharper this summer, and I think he’s certainly on top of his game.”
Lewis didn’t take anything for granted.
“Honestly I didn’t know who was going to be named the starter. Both of us played pretty well,” Lewis said.
“It’s a sense of relief and sense of urgency knowing I won it by the skin of my teeth. I know I have to play even better.”
Lynch informed the quarterbacks of his decision Tuesday.
“I knew deep down inside Kellen wanted to be the quarterback here at Indiana,” Lynch said. “If I didn’t feel that way, I don’t think I would have been hopeful.
“I knew how well Ben had played in the spring and how hard he had worked and knew how ready he was going to be and had to see how Kellen would come back and play after missing all spring. … I think he has played very well at practice.”
While quarterback is settled, the second cornerback spot remains up for grabs. Chris Adkins is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but Lynch said the team hasn’t decided who will be with Christopher Phillips.
Adkins, Donnell Jones, Richard Council and Adrian Burks are in the mix.
“I still can’t tell you exactly who is going to start there,” Lynch said. “The competition has been very good. It’s not because we’re trying to find a guy. We’re trying to make sure they all keep competing because they all have done a very good job. “The one question mark would be who exactly are we going to start at the other corner? When we decide that, I’m not exactly sure at this point.”
Note: Defensive lineman Emile Bass has decided to transfer.