The Indiana Hoosiers are looking for their first winning record and bowl bid since the 2007-08 season, when they finished 7-6 and played in the Insight Bowl.
Though they won just four games a year ago, the Hoosiers have a lot of experience returning to the team for 2013, especially on offense. However, whether or not that experience translates into wins on the field is yet to be seen.
Last season, the Hoosiers had one of the top offenses in the Big Ten. They ranked fourth in scoring with 30.8 points a game and second in total offense, putting up 442 yards a game. The key components of that offense will all be back on the field this season.
Quarterback Cameron Coffman finished second in the conference with 248.5 yards a game, and third in the conference with 2,734 total passing yards on the season. Now with a year of starting under his belt, one can assume that Coffman will put up even bigger numbers this year.
Helping Coffman is the fact that all of his main targets will once again be there for him to throw to. Cody Latimer was Indiana’s top receiver last year, catching 51 balls for 805 yards and six touchdowns. His 67.1 yards per game was second in the Big Ten. Joining Latimer is Shane Wynn, who added six receiving touchdowns. Tight end Tim Bolser and wide receiver Kofi Hughes also had solid years in 2012 and will be back this season.
Aside from just an experienced receiving corps, Indiana returns its top three rushers in Stephen Houston, D’Angelo Roberts and Tevin Coleman. Houston led the team with 749 yards and 12 touchdowns. He proved to be a threat to catch passes out of the backfield, finishing with 381 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Just like last season, there’s no reason to think that Indiana won’t be able to score a lot of points on offense. The problem for the Hoosiers lies in the fact that the defense has shown an inability to stop opposing offenses.
Though there are several starters returning on defense, it’s a unit that ranked near the bottom of the conference in every defensive category, including dead last in total defense. In fact, they ranked 104th in the nation, giving up 35.3 points a game.
Indiana should be able to improve on its 4-8 record from last year. However, getting six wins to become bowl eligible may once again be a challenge, especially due to a tough road schedule. The Hoosiers must make trips to face Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The home schedule is somewhat favorable, as it includes four games that could be winnable to start the season.
With a high-powered offense, a defense that has struggled and a schedule that presents some challenges, Indiana is going to need to catch some breaks if it wants to end its bowl drought.