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Indiana football: Hoosiers still deciding between QB choices Chappell, Lewis

Sunday, August 17, 2008 - 4:38 pm

BLOOMINGTON -- If you seek clarity on the Indiana quarterback situation, take a deep breath. Nothing is sure except Ben Chappell and Kellen Lewis are still battling for No. 1.

Saturday's first public scrimmage at Memorial Stadium settled nothing. Both made plays. Both made mistakes. Both have a chance to lead the Hoosiers to a second straight winning season.

For the record, Chappell was 13-for-21 for 126 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Lewis was 6-for-16 for 29 yards.

Also for the record, starting offensive linemen Pete Saxon and Rodger Saffold were sidelined by injuries.

“Each situation is different,” coach Bill Lynch said about the quarterback battle. “You take into account who's in there with them. Who they're going against. All those kind of things. Statistics are the last thing you look at. You're just looking at overall play. And for those guys, as much as they've played and practiced, you take into context everything you've seen.”

Chappell, a drop-back passer who has spent last season as a backup, showed his accuracy with a lofted touchdown pass to Ray Fisher near the end of the scrimmage.

“I threw it up in the corner of the end zone and gave him a chance,” Chappell said. “He made a great catch.”

Chappell entered preseason camp two weeks ago as the No. 1 quarterback, but only because Lewis had spent the previous four months under suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules. The consensus was that Lewis, a two-year starter with numerous school records, would soon win back the job. But nothing is won yet, and Chappell remains optimistic.

“I try to get better every day and do the things I can do -- make quick reads, hit the open man, move the ball down the field,” he said.

Lewis is a dual-threat quarterback at his most dangerous on broken plays. He showed that during the scrimmage.

“He's an outstanding player,” Lynch said. “He's a very good passer. He's very athletic. He makes a lot of plays. It didn't take him long to get back to (doing) what he does.”

Whoever wins the quarterback job could have freshman DaMarlo Belcher to throw to. The former North Side standout has a chance to make the receiving rotation. Coaches figure to settle on a depth chart in the next few days heading into the Aug. 30 season opener against Western Kentucky.

“DaMarlo's been good since start of camp, and he'll get nothing but better,” Lynch said. “His future is in front of him.”

Other than an early 57-yard run by Marcus Thigpen, the defense dominated on Saturday, highlighted by cornerback Richard Council's 20-yard interception return and defensive end Greg Middleton's three sacks. That's not necessarily a bad thing ,considering the unit must thrive if IU is to have a winning season.

“The defense was good all day,” Lynch said. “That's what you hope. I think we'll have a good defense. We have depth.”

That depth could receive a major boost if safety Jerimy Finch is ruled eligible. The former Warren Central standout is appealing the standard redshirt season mandated by the NCAA for his transfer from Florida.

“There's still no decision,” Lynch said, “but I would hope we'd know before too long.”