It’s no secret that the Indiana Hoosiers are going to score points in 2013. They led the Big Ten in passing last season and return every single starter at the skill positions ready to put up even bigger numbers next fall. The biggest obstacle for Indiana getting to a bowl game next season will be their defense, which finished dead last in the conference for the second straight year under head coach Kevin Wilson. For the Hoosiers to improve, their defense must step up and make some stops and junior linebacker David Cooper must lead that that turnaround.
There weren’t many games that the Indiana defense would like to remember from last year, but Cooper put together a pretty good sophomore campaign. He finished second on the team last year with 86 tackles, including nine for loss and three sacks and also broke up three passes and forced a fumble. For his junior season, however, the Indiana coaching staff will need Cooper to become a lot more disruptive and lead the team by wreaking havoc in the backfield.
There were only two players on the Hoosiers roster who played better in opponents’ backfields than Cooper in 2012. Defensive linemen Adam Replogle and Larry Black finished No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in both tackles for loss and sacks, combining for 25 TFL and 8.5 sacks. That is a lot of production lost on a defense that didn’t have enough playmakers to start with. For Indiana to take the next step on defense and make the stops necessary to pull off a couple of wins here and there, Cooper has to become a wrecking ball on defense from his linebacker position and pick up the slack caused by Replogle’s and Black’s graduation.
Nobody is expecting Indiana to turn into the premier defense in the conference overnight, but if they can improve to average, or even just not horrible, then the Hoosier offense should put up enough points to get Indiana into a bowl in 2013. Can Cooper be the difference-maker that the team needs him to be next fall?