Today is the sixth story in my series of Big 10 team previews for the 2011 season featuring the Leaders and Legends division. I will be touching on one team from the Big 10 conference in each article, as I break down who is returning, who left, their 2011 schedule and some key reasons to the team’s chances of success this season….Today I will be previewing the Indiana Hoosiers from the Leaders division.
Indiana 2011 Prediction
I have the Hoosiers finishing in sixth place of six teams in the new Leaders division. Indiana just secured the top quarterback recruit in the country for 2012, so the future is bright to say the least with Gunner Kiel and Indiana. Kiel is actually the younger brother to Hoosier current quarterback, Dusty. The current state of the team however is cloudy. Damarlo Belcher highlights the offensive players who will be returning to the team this season, giving little hope for success in 2011. The Hoosiers won’t have to do much to improve upon their 1-7 Big 10 record last year.
Head Coach Kevin Wilson will be trying to change things in a hurry in his first season in Bloomington. The big question is will the Hoosiers starting quarterback have enough time to acclimate himself to the offense and the players around him? Next question is, who is the Indiana starting quarterback? Belcher will obviously be the focus of the offense, but he will also be the focus of every defense the Hoosiers will play against. Darius Willis will be the starting running back, but has been plagued by knee injuries and will be serving a one-game suspension to start the season. Most importantly, the Indiana offense must try and find an identity this season before their prized recruit steps onto campus next fall.
Leon Beckum had a sensational season in 2010 after switching from middle linebacker to the weakside linebacker spot. He returns to the mix this season, alongside defensive end Darius Johnson. Last season, Johnson led the team in sacks and had seven tackles for loss. The defense will have five returning starters to provide the Hoosiers with veteran experience and leadership.
Obviously, you now know all about quarterback Gunner Kiel who is due on campus by this time, next year. However, the defense needs the most work and received a huge bonus when top defensive recruit Zack Shaw committed to the Hoosiers. Shaw will play linebacker, but he was an outstanding high school running back where he tallied 1,190 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. The Ohio native finished as the career leader in tackles, collecting 450 total over his career. He also set a single-season record with 228 tackles during his senior season.
September: Ball State, Virginia, South Carolina State, @ North Texas
October: Penn State, Illinois, @ Wisconsin, @ Iowa, Northwestern
November: @ Ohio State, @ Michigan State, Purdue
It is a stretch just to find something to talk about positively for the Hoosiers in 2011. I commend their radio broadcaster for being able to talk his way through Indiana football games. Regardless, the Hoosiers could go unbeaten in September, which isn’t saying much. North Texas may be their biggest test, but the Hoosiers could just as easily lose those early games on the schedule. October will prove to dismantle this team as they play five times in the month, with battles against the Badgers and Hawkeyes. Indiana should finish up November without a win, as they finish their season with two of their final three games against nationally ranked opponents.