Summer Preview: Indiana Hoosiers
Photo Credit: Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News
Indiana’s first year under head coach Kevin Wilson was anything but smooth sailing, as a 1-11 season left them in the cellar of the Leaders division in 2011. This year, Hoosier fans hope that the disappointments of last year serve as experience for their young players as they hope to turn their program around. But just like last year, youth makes up the core of the football team.
In 2011, Indiana played the most freshmen in the Big Ten, including the current starting quarterback, Tre Roberson. In limited time, he threw for 937 yards with 3 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, while rushing for an additional 2 scores. Now, with a full offseason under his belt, Roberson feels that he can improve on his previous performance and has even set a goal of completing 70 percent of his passes this season. While that may be a bit of a stretch for the sophomore, Indiana fans can do nothing but hope that his arm delivers a few victories in 2012. You can expect Roberson to be on a short leash however, as junior college transfer Cameron Coffman and true freshman Nate Sudfeld could challenge for the starting job should Roberson falter.
The offense will not fall squarely on the shoulders of the quarterback; however, as Stephen Houston rushed for over 800 yards and has proved that he can be a dependable runningback. In addition, Morehead State transfer Isaiah Roundtree should provide some depth to the position as a backup option.
While Indiana is still a very young team that lacks a lot of experience, they do have one of the best centers in the Big Ten in Will Matte. The senior has started 32 games in his career, and although he is coming off an injury, his leadership will be crucial for the offensive line to be effective. The defensive line also has two returning seniors in Larry Black and Adam Replogle. The same cannot be said for the secondary, which is mostly composed of young and inexperienced players, leading to the group giving up a whopping 26 passing touchdowns last year. Adding insult to injury, star cornerback Lawrence Barnett and Wide Receiver Kofi Hughes will serve one-game suspensions at some point this year for violating team rules.
Looking at Indiana’s schedule, the Hoosiers do have the ability to make something out of their season, and with some luck (and NCAA sanctions) may have a slim chance of qualifying for a bowl game. Should newly acquired linebackers Jacarri Alexander and David Cooper infuse some energy into the defense, this team could come start the season 3-0 against their non-conference opponents. Then all the Hoosiers would need would be to steal two conference wins (possible against Northwestern, Penn State, or Purdue) and defeat Navy’s option offense to put them at 6-6.
However, if the defense does not click together and Indiana gives up points like it did last year, it could prove to be yet another long season for those in Bloomington. If that is the case, be on the lookout for Kevin Wilson to be ousted from the head-coaching job.
In the end, Indiana is capable of ending up with a 3-9 record. They should be able to win their first three non-conference games, fueling themselves with the hopes of a turnaround season. Unfortunately, the defense does not have the talent or experience to stop the rest of the Big Ten from putting up a substantial amount of points and thus, fans will look forward to the 2013 season rather quickly.