2012 Indiana Preview – Defense
Indiana DT Adam Replogle
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Indiana Hoosier Defense
Preview 2012 - Defense
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2012 Indiana Defense |
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What You Need To Know: The defensive coaches did what they could, but the speed and athleticism weren't there in the back seven and the production didn't come from the front four. The line was shoved around and didn't get any semblance of a pass rush from the outside, and the secondary only came up with five picks and got torched by anyone who could throw a forward pass. There's hope for co-coordinators Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler with a great recruiting class of linebackers and a few good JUCO transfers ready to provide an instant upgrade to the corps, and with veteran tackles and four returning starters to the secondary. Overall the D has to find one thing it can do well with the experience needing to translate into production.
Star of the defense: Sophomore S Mark Murphy
Tackles: Mark Murphy, 76
Sacks: Adam Replogle, 4
Interceptions: Greg Haban, 2
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore DE Ryan Phillis
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DE Bobby Richardson
Best pro prospect: Richardson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Murphy, 2) DT Adam Replogle, 3) LB Jacarri Alexander
Strength of the defense: Experience, New Linebackers
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Pass Defense
The defensive line didn't do enough to consistently get into the backfield, but the bigger problem was holding up against the run. Senior Adam Replogle has to do far more to be stronger on the inside even though he led the team with four sacks and seven tackles for loss with 49 tackles. At 6-3 and 289 pounds he has decent size and is a strong interior pass rusher, but with his experience and activity he has to be even more of a playmaker and needs to play at an all-star level.
6-2, 310-pound senior Larry Black, Jr. brings the bulk to the line but he doesn't always play up to his size. He has the look of a nose tackle and anchor, but he can be erased by the better power running teams and he isn't consistently strong at the point of attack. However, he's active making 47 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss and he has the experience to know what he's doing.
The interior of the line can get to the quarterback from time to time, but the Hoosiers need a pass rusher on the outside who can make big things happen. Sophomore Ryan Phillis started for half the year and made 30 tackles, but he only came up with half a tackle for loss and no sacks. At 6-3 and 262 pounds he has good size and excellent athleticism, and now he's well past a foot injury that was a problem and he has to be a factor on the right side.
6-3, 274-pound sophomore Bobby Richardson is more of a 3-4 defensive end than a 4-3 pass rusher, but he showed last year he could work on the inside if needed or on the outside, getting the starting call six times over the last eight games, making 27 tackles with three sacks and four tackles for loss. After showing glimpses of greatness as a true freshman, the sky is the limit for the Tampa native on the left side.
6-5, 244-pound junior Javon Cornley will backup Richardson on the left side, and while he's a bit undersized he's a good special teamer and has good quickness and athleticism making nine tackles in a limited role. On the right side will be junior Justin Rayside, a 6-3, 251-pound JUCO transfer who was a pass rusher for Riverside CC last year. Fast and active, he could grow into a third down specialist if he doesn't take over a starting role.
6-2, 304-pound redshirt freshman Adarius Rayner provides some much-needed size inside with the quickness to grow into a terrific interior pass rusher, while 6-3, 293-pound senior Nicholas Sigler is a veteran with a good motor and experience coming up with 25 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He didn't get any starts and he didn't get into the backfield, but he ended up playing a nice part in the rotation.
Watch Out For … Richardson. With an intriguing blend of size and athleticism he could grow into a terrific interior pass rusher or a tough outside defender. As a true sophomore he's an end who might be just scratching the surface on what he can do.
Strength: Tackle. Replogle and Black might not be a brick wall in the interior but they're seniors who have been through the wars. They're veterans who can get into the backfield and aren't going to be out of position. They just have to hold up better.
Weakness: Run defense. Considering there's decent size and experience there has to be far, far more done against the run. The front line was supposed to improve last season against the better running teams and ended up giving up 244 yards and 25 scores. The line can't get pushed around so much again.
Outlook: The coaching staff went out of its way last year to say that the defensive line was going to be the strength of the team, but it wasn't. The rest of the team was so weak that it might have seemed that way, but there wasn't any production against the run and the pass rush was almost non-existent from the outside. The interior should be fine with Replogle and Black two proven veterans, but the success and improvement has to come from the ends.
Unit Rating: 6
The Hoosiers needed to get much, much better at linebacker so they went out and loaded up with this year's recruiting class led by Jacarri Alexander, a 6-1, 231-pound JUCO transfer from Iowa Central CC with the pass rushing ability to be a disruptive force on the weakside and with the toughness to be one of the team's top tacklers. He got to school early and instantly took over one of the starting jobs in spring ball, but 6-3, 224-pound redshirt freshman Kyle Kennedy will get his share of playing time after a strong year on the scout team. Extremely athletic, he'll be good in pass coverage in the right situations.
Sophomore David Cooper is another ready-made starter from the JUCO ranks making 102 tackles with 13 tackles for loss for Coffeyville CC in Kansas last season. The 6-1, 232-pound hitter has the right size and is like a guided missile when he gets a bead on a ball-carrier. He'll take over for leading tackler Jeff Thomas in the middle and should be more than fine, while 6-3, 223-pound junior Griffen Dahlstrom is a smart special teamer with the versatility to work just about anywhere in the linebacking corps. He made eight tackles last year.
6-2, 240-pound sophomore Chase Hoobler beefed up in a big way over the last year after starring on the scout team two years ago. He showed what he could do in a spot-starting role when the defense went with a 4-3 alignment making 48 tackles with two sacks and five tackles for loss. Big and tough, he can play in the middle if needed but is growing into the job on the strongside where he should be one of the team's best run stoppers over the next few years. He'll be backed up by 6-2, 225-pound true sophomore Kyle Replogle is yet another Replogle going through the program and has the same type of family toughness as a tackler as his brothers – Adam at defensive tackle and former linebacker Tyler – with a little bit of playing time. He made six tackles as a special teamer and a reserve.
Watch Out For … all the new guys. Linebacker was by far the biggest strength and the target of the 2012 recruiting class. Cooper and Alexander came in early from the JUCO ranks and will start right away, while Jordan Wallace is a 6-1, 215-pound middle linebacker who can play anywhere and Nick Mangieri is a 6-5, 230-pound hitter who'll be a factor sooner than later.
Strength: again, the new guys. The linebackers didn't do nearly enough last year, and now the corps got a huge upgrade even with the loss of Thomas. The JUCO transfers might be the best players on the defense from Day One, and there are enough good true freshmen to work into the mix early on.
Weakness: Proven production. The IU linebackers were destroyed last year. They were too slow, not physical enough and not disruptive enough. This year they'll be sent into the backfield on a regular basis and will be asked to do more, but even though there's a ton of talent coming in there aren't enough stats returning.
Outlook: Indiana tried to get by over the years with a slew of try-hard, high-motor guys who always gave the top-shelf effort but never came up with meaningful results. With the slew of new talents there's an upgrade in athleticism and skill to go along with good depth and enough battlers to expect a strong season from the unit.
Unit Rating: 6.5
The secondary needs more help from the pass rush and the front seven, but it also has to start coming up with more production on its own. The leader of the bunch will once again be safety Mark Murphy, a 6-2, 211-pound hitter who came from out of nowhere to finish second on the team in tackles as a true freshman making 76 stops with a pick and four broken up passes. The son of Green Bay Packer GM Mark Murphy, he has excellent speed and is always around the ball. He'll be one of the team's top tacklers, but if the front seven does its job he'll do more when the ball is in the air.
Fifth-year senior Alexander Webb has been around long enough to know what he's doing, but he didn't start to do much on the field until last year making 26 tackles with a pick. At 6-0 and 189 pounds he's built like a cornerback and has incredible toughness playing through a broken arm last year. Smart, he'll be fine with an expanded role, while 6-0, 205-pound sophomore Drew Hardin is a bigger option with the look of a true safety. Hardin was a special teamer for most of the season but got five starts making 34 tackles. He didn't do anything against the pass with just one broken up pass, but he can hit.
Back at his starting role after playing all 12 games last year is junior Greg Heban, a former walk-on who followed up a 40-tackle season by finishing third on the team with 62 tackles with a pick and four broken up passes. At 6-1 and 185 pounds he has good size and he's a good all-around athlete, but now he has to use his experience to be a bigger playmaker when the ball is in the air. He'll tackle, but the team needs him to be a shut-down corner on the left side.
5-10, 194-pound junior Lawrence Barnett turned a great spring into a decent year as a tackling corner with ten starts, but he didn't come up with a pick. With six broken up passes and 46 tackles he had his moments, and at 5-10 and 194 pounds he has decent size. Part safety and part corner, he has to lockdown the right side and make the big plays that'll be there for the taking.
Working in nickel and dime packages and in the corner rotation will be 5-10, 178-pound true sophomore Kenny Mullen, who chipped in 18 tackles with two sacks, and 6-1, 177-pound true sophomore Michael Hunter, who got three starts and finished with 13 tackles with two broken up passes. Hunter is smart with good quickness and closing speed, while Mullen has great hands and should have good ball skills when he gets his chances.
Watch Out For … Barnett. Heban isn't so good that teams are going to avoid going at him, but for the most part quarterbacks are going to want to challenge Barnett instead. The junior was okay last year considering he didn't come up with any interceptions. This year he'll come up with his share of picks.
Strength: Experience. All of a sudden, IU has four decent starters with experience and potential. Murphy, Heban, and Barnett are proven performers who'll be backed last year, while the depth is just good enough to expect a nice rotation.
Weakness: Interceptions. The Hoosiers gave up way too many big plays finishing last in the Big Ten and 116th in the nation in pass efficiency defense, and while giving up long bombs was a problem, the mere five picks was the bigger issue. The IU secondary has to start making a difference.
Outlook: Heban is fine, Murphy should be great, and Webb and Barnett are good enough to get by. There might not be any all-stars outside of Murphy, but the Hoosiers have enough experience to be better. The pass rush has to be far better and the defensive backs can't be forced to make so many plays against the run.
Unit Rating: 6
Junior Mitch Ewald has been one of the team's biggest positives over the last two years making 16-of-19 field goals in 2010 and connecting on 13-of-16 last year with all three of his misses coming from beyond 40 yards. He has a good enough leg to connect from just inside the 50 and he's ultra-reliable from short-range. While he isn't going to bomb away from 55 yards out, he'll be excellent.
The punting game was mediocre with Adam Pines averaging just 38.4 yards per kick, but he forced 22 fair catches and put 16 inside the 20. Junior Mitchell Voss started out his career at Ferris State before transferring over to IU, and after waiting two years now he'll get his turn.
Sophomore Shane Wynn will do even more as a wide receiver while also being the main man on kickoff returns again. He led the team in total yards after averaging 21.1 yards per kick with a 99-yard return for a score against Illinois. Sophomore Nick Stoner has to do more for the punt return game that averaged just 5.75 yards per try and didn't break anything big.
Watch Out For … Voss. IU needs great field position as much as possible to help bail out the defense, and Voss has just enough leg to be the directional kicker to pin teams deep. If he can average more than 40 yards per kick he'll be an upgrade.
Strength: Ewald. He hasn't had many chances to come through with a clutch kick, but he's been rock-solid from inside the 40 and should be in the mix for all-star honors if he has another year like the previous two.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. The last thing the IU defense needs is to give offenses a short field, and that's exactly what happened time and again with the kick coverage team allowing 23.2 yards per try.
Outlook: The special teams has experience and should be stronger in the punting game, but the coverage teams have to be better and Stoner needs to be a factor to help out a lagging punt return game. Wynn will be good and Ewald will be a star.
Unit Rating: 5
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2012 Indiana Defense |
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