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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, April 14, 2018 5:40 pm

Crimson beats Cream 37-28: Final thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – The Indiana spring practice schedule is over, 42 days after it began. The Hoosiers are better than they were when the practices started in early March and it showed during Saturday's Cream and Crimson spring game, which featured few penalties but more than its share of highlight-reel plays.

Peyton Ramsey's 55-yard touchdown run will get most of the attention, for good reason, but from my perspective, the best play of the day was one that didn't even count. On the first series of the game, Ramsey tried to throw deep for one of the only times all afternoon. The throw wasn't bad and the receiver was in good position to make a catch, but redshirt junior cornerback Andre Brown Jr. made a terrific play on the ball, jumping and contorting his body to rip it away from the receiver and come down with an interception. It would have been the game's only turnover, but it was called back because of an offsides penalty.

The game was mostly controlled by the defense, with only one touchdown drive on each side. Linebacker Marcelino Ball was one of the best players on the field, getting one "sack" (in quotes because all he needed to do was touch the quarterback) and making a handful of tackles. He seems to have shaken off the rust from missing most of last season with an injury and is ready to be an impact player this season.

Outside of Ramsey's run, the quarterback play was encouraging, if slightly erratic. Both signal-callers played to their strengths, with Ramsey excelling in the read-option and on short throws and Michael Penix Jr. using the strongest arm of any of Indiana's quarterbacks to make big plays down the field. On one play, he launched a ball at least 50 yards in the air that ended up drawing a defensive pass interference penalty. He had some accuracy issues as well, however, completing just 4 of 11 passes and trying to do too much at times.

I mentioned the stable of talent at running back in my preview of the game Friday and several backs made an impression today. Senior Ricky Brookins remains a strong, powerful runner, who almost never gets taken down after the first hit. Redshirt freshman walk-on Ahrod Lloyd had several nice runs in the non-scoring portion of the game and coach Tom Allen went out of his way to praise him after the game.

"I'm going to keep mentioning Lloyd," Allen said. "I know he's a walk-on that no one really knew much about, but you saw him even today making plays. That young man is going to help this program because he's quick, he's tough, he's strong and he's fast. To me, that's pretty good qualities to have and he cares a whole bunch."

In general, the players didn't seem to suffer from playing inside rather than at Memorial Stadium. Several hundred family members were still on hand to watch, so the atmosphere wasn't dead and it was a hard-hitting, physical game. After the contest, the Hoosiers announced their spring awards for this season:

Most Outstanding Player (offense):  Lineman Wes Martin

Most Outstanding Player (defense): Linebacker Reakwon Jones

Most Improved Player (offense): Running back Cole Gest

Most Improved Player (defense): Lineman Gavin Everett

Strength and Conditioning (offense): Martin

Strength and Conditioning (defense): Jones