Indiana coach Kevin Wilson will be without starting right tackle Peyton Eckert but hopes to have right guard Bernard Taylor back for the Big Ten opener against Penn State on Saturday.
Eckert, a 6-foot-6 junior, is still nursing a pinched nerve in his lower back, Wilson told reporters Monday. The third-year coach said he would not rule out a redshirt year for Eckert should the setback persist. He has yet to play for the Hoosiers in 2013.
It’s a deal that we’ve tried to settle down, but just with the inflammation, Wilson said. He’s got a bad back, and we’ve tried to quiet it down, tried some things they do with the epidurals to try and help it, but he’s not been able to come back and practice at a strength level he can do it. If he does too much work, then he really can’t go the next day.
Redshirt sophomore Ralston Evans has taken Eckert’s spot on the depth chart.
Taylor, meanwhile, might be ready to return, although he faces competition from Jake Reed at the spot. The 6-2, 295-pound junior was out with an ankle injury, and because of the depth Wilson has along his offensive line, he doesn’t see a need to rush Taylor back into the lineup.
With fellow guard Dan Feeney out for the season with a lisfranc injury, IU has relied on Reed, a 6-4, 291-pound redshirt sophomore, and David Kaminski, a 6-4, 300-pound redshirt sophomore, to fill gaps at guard.
Everyone else, I would anticipate as being probable or playing, Wilson said. We got guys practicing, but do they practice enough to play? Do they practice well enough to play? I think the rest of our corps is good enough to go.
Sophomore defensive tackle Alex Todd is also full-go at practice and could see the field against the Nittany Lions.
IU is coming off a bye week and hoping to make a statement at home after a disappointing 2-2 finish in nonconference play.
It’ll be a strong test for us, and we’re looking forward to Saturday, Wilson said. Our kids have given us great effort. I think we have great attitude with our guys. We’re looking to make sure we put our young guys, defensively, in places where they know what to do and they can attack. Offensively, we keep finding a way to have some balance and take care of the ball.
Note: The Hoosiers received a commitment from South Gwinnett (Ga.) High School wide receiver Coray Keel on Monday. Keel, a 6-3, 190-pound senior, chose IU a week after his official visit to Bloomington for the Hoosiers’ game against Missouri. He told 247Sports.com that IU was his leader after the trip. The wideout had Big Ten offers from Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue. He trimmed his list to Georgia State, IU, the Golden Gophers, Kansas State and the Illini on July30. Keel is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports, a two-star prospect according to Rivals.com and a three-star recruit in ESPN.com’s rankings. He is the 11th commitment of the class for the Hoosiers and the third player out of Georgia to pledge to Wilson’s staff in this class.