Curt Cignetti’s Debut Spring at Indiana: What to Expect

Curt Cignetti’s first spring at Indiana is fast approaching. With the Hoosiers’ spring game set for April 18, the schedule for the next few months is taking shape.

Cignetti and his staff spent December retooling what he called a “crisis roster situation,” and then they laid the foundation for recruits in the classes of 2025 and 2026. Now, it’s time to get to work with the current roster to prepare for the 2024 season.

So far, it appears strength and conditioning coach Derek Owings has spent more time around the current roster than Cignetti has. Owings came to Bloomington after serving in the same role under Cignetti at James Madison for the past four years. Owings — who makes $535,000 annually at IU — has been training with IU’s overhauled roster ahead of spring practice. While the rest of the staff has been on the road, Owings has stayed in Bloomington preparing players for the season.

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“The offseason is his baby,” Cignetti said about Owings during signing day on Wednesday. “Right now and then in the summer. Now, we’ll still maintain and do things during spring ball, fall camp, during the season. I think he’s a big part of what we do. That’s why I do everything I can to keep him on the roster, pay him as well as I can because he makes a difference.”

As for getting into the spring season and preparing for the spring game, the Hoosiers will have an abbreviated stretch of training. IU will hold only 13 spring practices before the game, which will be played at night. This shorter lead-up was to ensure the game would be held the day before during Little 500 weekend in Bloomington.

Cignetti acknowledged implementing the systems of the coaching staff will take time for players who aren’t coming from JMU.

“Usually in spring, the second half of spring looks a lot better than the first half of spring,” Cignetti said. “There’s going to be a lot of new nomenclature, new people, a different practice structure than the guys that have been here in the past are accustomed to.”

With what’s expected to be a three-man quarterback competition between Ohio transfer Kurtis Rourke and Center Grove alums Tayven Jackson and Tyler Cherry, figuring Cignetti’s offense out will be crucial. The QB battle  — plus an offensive line with four new faces and replenished running back and wide receiver rooms — means getting accustomed to Cignetti’s offense will be paramount.

On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary is a concern for IU. The Hoosiers lost most of their secondary mainstays from 2023 and added just two safeties — Shawn Asbury and Terry Jones, both from Old Dominion — in the transfer portal. Cignetti expects to grab more transfers after the spring when players get a good sense of their standing on the depth chart.

“We were really thin back there,” Cignetti said. “Probably still need to add a piece or two, after spring ball.”

Indiana will have a few injuries heading into spring play. Cignetti noted defensive lineman James Carpenter, defensive lineman Lanell Carr, defensive lineman Venson Sneed, linebacker Jailin Walker and offensive lineman Nick Kidwell aren’t likely to participate in the spring.

IU will have a spring game for the first time since 2019 in April. With Cignetti at the helm, the buildup begins soon, and fans will have their first chance to see the new-look program.

2024-02-13 23:10:54
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