2012 record: 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten)
Returning offensive starters (10): QB Cameron Coffman, RB Stephen Houston, WR Kofi Hughes, WR Cody Latimer, WR Shane Wynn, TE Ted Bolser, T Jason Spriggs, T Peyton Eckert, G Dan Feeney, C Collin Rahrig,
Projected starting offense: QB Cameron Coffman, jr., 6-2, 203 OR Tre Roberson, so., 6-0, 200 OR Nate Sudfeld, so., 6-5 234; QB Tevin Coleman, so., 6-1, 208 OR Stephen Houston, sr., 6-0, 225; TE Ted Bolser, sr., 6-6, 254; WR Shane Wynn, jr., 5-7, 167; WR Cody Latimer, jr., 6-3, 215; WR Kofi Hughes, sr., 6-2, 215; T Jason Spriggs, so., 6-7, 280; T Peyton Eckert, jr., 6-6, 295; G Dan Feeney, so., 6-4, 305; G Bernard Taylor, jr., 6-2, 303; C Collin Rahrig, jr., 6-2, 281
Returning defensive starters (9): LB Jacarri Alexander, LB David Cooper, LB Griffen Dahlstrom, DE Ryan Phillis, DE Zach Shaw, S Greg Heban, S Mark Murphy, CB Antonio Marshall, CB Brian Williams
Projected starting defense: DE Ryan Phillis, jr., 6-3, 260; DT Ralphael Green, fr., 6-5, 312; DT Alex Todd, so., 6-3, 300; DE Zach Shawn, so., 6-3, 253; LB Griffen Dahlstrom, sr., 6-3, 235; MLB David Cooper, jr., 6-1, 235; LB Chase Hoobler, jr., 6-2, 240; CB Anthony Marshall, sr., 5-11, 195; S Tim Bennett, jr., 5-9, 190; S Greg Heban, sr., 6-1, 203; CB Michael Hunter, so., 5-10, 191
Return specialists: (2): K Mitch Ewald, sr., 5-10, 174; P Erich Toth, so., 6-3, 196
Key losses: C Will Matte, DT Adam Replogle, DT Larry Black Jr.
Key additions: DE David Kenney, 6-2, 250; DL Darius Latham, 6-5, 290; DB Antonio Allen, 5-10, 205; WR Taj Williams, 6-4, 175; RB Daryl Chestnut, 5-10, 190
2012 review: Indiana took strides from a porous 1-11 campaign in 2011 to become competitive against the non-rushing giants. The Hoosiers won four games and were in contention for the Big Ten’s Leaders Division crown until a 62-14 massacre to Wisconsin on Nov. 10. Indiana took out Illinois and Iowa in consecutive weeks and competed in losses to Michigan State (31-27), Ohio State (52-49) and Navy (31-30).
Indiana led the Big Ten is passing yards per game with 314. Shane Wynn caught 68 passes and Cody Latimer averaged nearly 16 yards per reception. The Hoosiers passed for 24 TDs and tossed only 13 interceptions in Kevin Wilson’s pass-first offense.
While Indiana scored 369 points, it gave up 423. Big Ten opponents scored 107 points than the Hoosiers’ put up. If there was any semblance of defense, Indiana could have advanced to its first bowl in five years.
2013 schedule: A29 Indiana State; S7 Navy; S14 Bowling Green; S21 Missouri; O5 Penn State; O12 at Michigan State; O19 at Michigan; N2 Minnesota; N9 Illinois; N16 at Wisconsin; N23 at Ohio State; N30 Purdue
Key stretch: Indiana gets a week off before facing Big Ten heavyweights Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan in succession. Indiana has lost all 16 meetings to Penn State, eight of its last nine to Michigan State and its last 17 to Michigan. If the Hoosiers aspire to become better than a team trying to sneak into a bowl bid, they must win at least one. They’ve got a real shot at home against Penn State, who is coming off crippling NCAA sanctions. The other games are on the road against solid running attacks, something Indiana failed to stop last year
Trap game: Bowling Green. The Falcons finished 8-5 last year and competed in the Military Bowl. They return 10 starters on offense and nine on defense. Bowling Green brings back its starting quarterback, top running back and five leading receivers. Defensively, the Falcons return six of their top seven tacklers, although losing top sacker Chris Jones will hurt. The game is sandwiched between Navy, which beat Indiana 31-30 last year, and Missouri, so there’s the opportunity for a letdown. Indiana also is Bowling Greens’ only major-conference opponent in he first six weeks of the season.
Glass half-full: For the first time since maybe 2007, Indiana has a chance to not only compete against decent teams but beat them. The Hoosiers return every offensive starter but center Will Matte, and Indiana was high-powered on that side of the ball. Indiana averaged nearly 4 yards a carry, 311 passing yards a game and completed 61.3 percent of its passes. That’s with inexperienced Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfield rotating reps throughout the season. Tre Roberson returns from a season-ending broken leg to give Indiana three options at quarterback, and all three have had success.
The Hoosiers also are loaded at the skill positions, bringing back four players that caught at least 40 passes. Running back Stephen Houston scored 12 touchdowns last year and might not start. The defense returns seven of its top eight tacklers, including all of the back seven.
Indiana has a legitimate shot at winning its first four games and could be favored in four Big Ten contests. The last time Indiana won eight games was in 1993. The last time the Hoosiers won nine? 1967, their only Rose Bowl season.
Glass half-empty: Although the Hoosiers finished 4-8, they lost to Ohio State, Michigan State, Navy and Ball State by a combined nine points. That gives a program expectations, especially with a core group of starters. But with expectations also come … expectations. This program long has been the Big Ten’s doormat and living up to higher standards can be difficult for players not used to doing so.
Indiana’s defense was a major weakness last year, and the Hoosiers lost its two best players in Adam Replogle and and Larry Black. Yes, there are nine starters returning. But is that necessarily a positive? The Hoosiers gave up a combined 163 points in their final three games last year.
If the defense fails to stop the run — Indiana allowed 2,776 rushing yards last year, including 564 to Wisconsin — its offense will have to compensate. With three semi-experienced quarterbacks, chemistry could fizzle if there’s a rotation. A loss or two early, coupled with poundings against the league heavyweights could demoralize a program on the rise.
Should Indiana win seven or eight games, it’s likely Kevin Wilson becomes a coaching target for several programs. That could pose some interesting post-season questions in Bloomington.
The Iowa angle: Indiana seems to take advantage of Iowa in its weakest moments. In 2007, the Hawkeyes gave up nine sacks in a 38-21 home beatdown that wasn’t that close. Last year, Iowa limped saw its potential bowl berth slip away against an equally mediocre Hoosiers squad, 24-21, at Memorial Stadium.
Under Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has lost five times to Indiana. All five years Iowa either finished with losing records (1999, 2000, 2006, 2012) or didn’t earn a bowl berth (2007). Indiana is the hot water heater breaking down only in the years Iowa owes the IRS.
Although neither squad considers the other a heated rival, the teams have played 74 times over a 100-year span. That’s history. They’ll also meet home and away in 2014 and 2015 when the Big Ten morphs into a 14-team super conference.
Quotable: “ I think we’ve made a lot of improvement. I think No. 1, just effort. What we’ve talked about is getting 11 guys out there who are going to bust their butt getting to the football. I think we’ve become a little bit more physical, but we’ve got a long ways to go.” — Indiana defensive coordinator Doug Mallory
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