Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson continues to make progress in Bloomington and in his third season could have the Hoosiers headed to a bowl game. Indiana is coming off a 4-8 season overall and 2-6 record ,in the Big Ten and returns 19 starters and the team’s starting kicker and punter. The team has players on its roster that have made 391 starts in their career that ranks fifth in the nation. The team certainly has the experience, but this year will determine if they have the talent.
Top Returning Players: QBs Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfield, RB Stephen Houston, WRs Cody Latimer and Shane Wynn, DE Ryan Phillis, LBs David Cooper and Griffen Dahlstrom, DBs Greg Heban, Mark Murphy and Brian Williams.
Top Newcomers: RB Laray Smith, ATH Rashard Fant, WR Taj Williams, DT Darius Latham, DE David Kenney III, S Antonio Allen and OLB Kristopher Smith
Offense: The bright spot on the Hoosiers last season was the team’s aerial attack as they led the conference in passing yards per game with 311, despite losing quarterback Roberson in the second game. That figure ranked inside the top 20 nationally, but as good as the passing attack was, the rushing attack was just as bad, finishing 96th in the nation with 130.8 per game and last in the Big Ten in rushing. Finding balance on offense this season is vital and that can’t happen until Wilson settles on a quarterback among the three who started last season, but my guess is it’s Roberson’s gig to lose.
Defense: Looking on the bright side of this side of the ball, the Hoosiers can only go up after an abysmal season stopping anyone, particularly on the ground. Indiana finished last in the conference in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense. To win in this conference you have to stop the run and Indiana couldn’t come close to that in 2012. Somehow, Indiana still managed to lead the conference in sacks and tackles for loss, but that could be misleading as their defense was on the field so much. Nevertheless, the interior of the defensive line needs to improve for Indiana to be anything more than a preseason sleeper.
Indiana opens the season with five straight home games that should give the Hoosiers momentum into conference play. The off week before the Penn State game should prepare the team for a possible upset and a signature win for Wilson’s team. The four road games are daunting tasks, but Indiana should be favored in seven of the team’s eight home games.
Win-Loss Prediction: Best case scenario is Indiana wins eight games if they can defeat Penn State or Michigan State. Worst-case scenario is a four-win season that means Indiana misses a bowl game yet again. My prediction: 6-6 and Indiana goes bowling for the second time since 1993 and first since 2007.