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Indiana University

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Indiana QB Ben Chappell is in the top 10 in eight IU career categories, including passing yards (3,956, eighth) and TD passes (21, ninth).

Chappell finds comfort zone

Ben Chappell fired a ball in the direction of receiver Tandon Doss.

Doss completed running his route, located the ball and made the catch.

Chappell went through similar sequences with other Indiana receivers such as Terrance Turner and North Side graduate Damarlo Belcher all summer. The group worked on getting the timing down on three or four routes a day.

Chappell is the top returning passer in the Big Ten in terms of yards per game. But he knows he can improve.

“I know when Tandon, Terrance and Damarlo are going to come out of their breaks like the back of my hand,” Chappell said. “… It breeds confidence. As a quarterback, when you know I can throw an out to the field and know right where Tandon’s going to come out. I can throw it to the spot before he comes out of his break. That makes all the difference in the world.

“When you are playing in the Big Ten, that split second makes a huge difference. You can let it fly and know he’s going to be there. That’s huge for us. We’ve worked at it.”

Chappell is entering his senior season at IU, and his second as the full-time starter. IU coach Bill Lynch noticed the quarterback became more comfortable during the spring.

“You’ve heard of the expression ‘the game slowed down for him.’ You can tell,” Lynch said. “He can tell the tackle what to do, the left guard what to do. The wideouts, the back they are going to blitz, here’s your protection. He’s got a bunch of teammates who trust him because they know he knows.

“When the quarterback can tell everybody on the field on his side of the ball what to do, there’s a trust factor there and guys are going to play a little bit harder for him. He always could throw it. He could throw the out. He could throw the curl, the deep ball. Now he has all the other things that I think are such an important part of being a quarterback.”

Chappell has quite a season to build on. He received honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition last year. A team captain in 2009, Chappell finished the season completing 268 of 428 passes (62.6 percent). He threw 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

He threw for 2,941 yards, an average of 245.1 yards.

In Big Ten games only, Chappell led the league in passing yards per game (261.2) and was second in touchdowns (14).

Chappell enters 2010 in the top 10 of the school’s career list in eight categories, including completion percentage (.599, first), passing yards (3,956, eighth) and passing touchdowns (21, ninth).

“He’s going to put the ball in our hands and make throws where only we can get it,” Doss said. “He’s not going to make that many mistakes.”

Chappell analyzed his mistakes from last season, such as an interception against Iowa that resulted in an 86-yard return for a touchdown, in hopes of not repeating them.

“When you look back on games and you see that maybe one or two plays, a 14-point swing, stuff like that, it can make a difference in a win or a loss,” Chappell said. “Really just concentrating on the importance of every play and focusing, knowing that any one play could be the one that wins the game.”

A Bloomington South graduate, Chappell is looking forward to a final season in front of the home crowd.

“It’s pretty special (playing in Bloomington). My parents have made it to every game, home and away,” Chappell said. “It’s special to play in front of your family and friends. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s something that’s been a great experience for me. Shoot, my mom still does my laundry and I go home and get a home-cooked meal once a week. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

lpope@jg.net

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