2012 Indiana Preview – Youth Movement
Indiana QB Tre Roberson
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Indiana Hoosiers
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Self-actualization and brutal honesty can be a good thing, especially if you're a program that hasn't done much of anything in the most storied conference in college football.
Head coach: Kevin Wilson
1st year: 1-11
Off. 22, Def. 26, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Indiana Players
1. RB Stephen Houston, Jr.
2. S Mark Murphy, Soph.
3. QB Tre Roberson, Soph.
4. PK Mitch Ewald, Jr.
5. C Will Matte, Sr.
6. TE Ted Bolser, Jr.
7. DT Adam Replogle, Sr.
8. LB Jacarri Alexander, Jr.
9. CB Greg Heban, Jr.
10. WR Kofi Hughes Jr.
Sep. 1 Indiana State
Sep. 8 at Massachusetts
Sep. 15 Ball State
Sep. 22 OPEN DATE
Sep. 29 at Northwestern
Oct. 6 Michigan State
Oct. 13 Ohio State
Oct. 20 at Navy
Oct. 27 at Illinois
Nov. 3 Iowa
Nov. 10 Wisconsin
Nov. 17 at Penn State
Nov. 24 at Purdue
Since 1900, Indiana has won two – count them – two Big Ten titles with the last one coming in 1967 and the only outright championship coming in 1945. Purdue has won the league eight times. The University of Chicago hasn't been a part of the Big Ten since 1939 and it has seven titles, and Penn State has only been a part of the fun since 1993 and it has three.
Coaches have come and gone through Bloomington with some degrees of success here and there, but no one has been able to make the football program more than a blip on the radar at a place the lives and breathes basketball.
Kevin Wilson is giving it a try.
Whether or not Wilson ends up succeeding after a miserable 1-11 season remains up in the air, but at the very least he's not pulling his punches when it comes to what Indiana has to do to improve.
From Day One he wasn't shy about what Indiana football is: bad.
It's not a hard puzzle to figure out. The Hoosiers haven't had any talent with just 12 players drafted since 1998 – let that 14-year span sink in for a moment - and just five of those were taken before the fourth round. By comparison, Oklahoma, where Wilson was an assistant coach before taking over at IU, has had 11 players drafted over the last two seasons.
Wilson has preached that the team needs to get more talented, faster, and more than anything else, tougher on both sides of the line. It's not exactly easy to get the top prospects interested in the Hoosiers, so Wilson has to have a niche. He and his staff have to come up with one thing the program can do well at a high level to form an identity, but the team couldn't find anything that worked last year.
Starting out with a stunning loss to Ball State and hurt more by an embarrassing gaffe against North Texas, the Hoosiers didn't beat an FBS team with the lone victory coming in a fight over South Carolina State.
With the writing on the wall early on, IU went with a major youth movement with true freshmen and several other underclassmen thrown to the wolves in key spots. The production might not have been there and the team might not have gotten better as the season went on, but there were signs that the team could be far more competitive in the near future.
Tre Roberson is a fun and exciting quarterback coming off a promising true freshman season, while Stephen Houston came in from the JUCO ranks to carry a running game that was supposed to be deep, but wasn't.
The lines are going to be more experienced, the secondary is full of veterans, and the coaching staff went to the JUCO ranks to instantly improve the linebacking corps.
But Indiana still has miles to go before the talent and the playmakers are going to be in place to do the things Wilson would like. Changes aren't going to come overnight, but considering the problems over the last 100 years, another season or three won't seem like much.
What to watch for on offense: This is where the youth movement of last year should pay off. The attack couldn't score, the passing game wasn't efficient, and the line couldn't generate enough of a consistent push, but all of that should change. New offensive coordinator Seth Littrell's first job will be to get the line to be more physical, and it should be with four starters returning and with enough depth to form a decent rotation. The quarterback situation still has to be figured out with Cameron Coffman looking to push for time, but Roberson is good enough to be the face of the franchise for the next three years. The receiving corps has size and enough athleticism to get by, and the running back situation could be a surprise with several options to help out Houston. Expect more explosive plays and a lot more consistency.
What to watch for on defense: The brand new linebacking corps. It's a bit much to blame the problems of the woeful defense on the linebackers, but they weren't exactly a plus for one of the nation's worst run defenses. With one recruiting class the problem has been solved with the speedy and athletic Jacarri Alexander a ready-made option on the weakside and David Cooper stepping off the bus and into the starting gig in the middle. With sophomore Chase Hoobler back on the strongside and with several excellent freshmen coming in, this should go from being a problem area to a positive in a big hurry.
The team will be far better if … the passing game starts to work. Considering Wilson helped make the Oklahoma offense one of the most dominant in college football it had to be a shocker when his team couldn't move the ball through the air. The loss of top receiver Damarlo Belcher was bad but the inconsistency at quarterback was worse with the passing game failing to throw for more than 200 yards in any of the last six games. The offense threw for more than one score in just two early games – the win over South Carolina State and the loss to North Texas in back-to-back September dates - and finished with just four touchdown passes and nine interceptions in the final eight games. The improvement in the running game helped pick up the slack at times, but not enough.
The schedule: The Hoosiers have a nice and soft start to the year, but that's what it seemed like last year, too. Considering IU lost to Ball State, the early game against the Cardinals isn't a lock. However, there's no reason to not be 3-0 to start the year with Indiana State, at UMass, and Ball State to kick things off before getting a week off to prepare for Northwestern.
IU misses Michigan from the Legends, but it has a rough finishing kick with four road games in the final six coming off home games against Michigan State and Ohio State. There's no Minnesota on the slate, meaning that ever Big Ten game is against a team that ended up in a bowl game last season, meaning the road date against Navy – along with a perfect first three weeks of the season – will be a must win to have any dreams of finishing with a winning record.
Best offensive player: Junior RB Stephen Houston. It took a little while to get the JUCO transfer rolling, but he eventually became the main man for an offense that had little else to consistently count on. With good size and enough quickness to get by, Houston came up with a nice stretch late in the year with six touchdowns in four games including a 151-yard day against Northwestern and 135 yards against Wisconsin. There should be more options in the backfield this year, and Roberson will be one of the team's most dangerous rushing threats, but it's Houston who should be the centerpiece of the attack.
Best defensive player: Sophomore S Mark Murphy. He stepped in as a true freshman and became one of the team's few consistent defensive playmakers. At 6-2 and 211 pounds he has the size to go along with the smarts and the hitting ability as the last line of defense finishing second on the team with 76 tackles and a pick. Making more big plays when the ball is in the air is a must, and he should be able to do that if the front seven is doing its job.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DE Ryan Phillis. The defense needs to come up with a better pass rush to have any success of surviving. As bad as the run defense was last year, the tackles weren't all that bad with Adam Replogle and Larry Black doing just enough to get into the backfield. However, they need to be far stronger at the point of attack and have to hope for more pop from the outside. Big Bobby Richardson is more like a tackle playing end, while Phillis has to be more of a speed rusher who gets to the quarterback on a regular basis after failing to come up with a sack last year.
The season will be a success if … the Hoosiers win five games. Considering the team was so bad last year and failed to beat an FBS team winning five games might be a lofty goal, but they were close to coming up with wins against Ball State, Virginia, North Texas and Penn State with all four games decided by a touchdown or less and all four able to go the other way. This year there's no excuse to not beat Indiana State, UMass, and Ball State early and later come up with two stunners at some point. IU should be able to hang around with Navy and could give Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue and/or Iowa a run.
Key game: Sept. 8 at Massachusetts. Beating Indiana State shouldn't be a problem in the home opener, but coming up with a win over the Minutemen in Foxboro would be a big step forward. Considering the Hoosiers lost the layup games to Ball State and North Texas last year, starting out 2-0 with a chance for a three-win season against Ball State the following week could do wonders for the program's confidence. This is still a young team that has to take things step by step.
2011 Fun Stats:
- Time of possession: Opponents 31:54 – Indiana 28:06
- Punt returns: Opponents 25 for 166 yards – Indiana 8 for 46 yards
- Field goals: Opponents 21-of-22 – Indiana 13-of-16
- 2012 Indiana Preview |
2012 Indiana Defense |
Indiana Depth Chart