CFN Preview 2013 - Indiana Hoosiers
Posted Jun 14, 2013 2013 Preview - Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana Hoosiers

Preview 2013

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Kevin Wilson
3rd year: 5-19
Returning Lettermen: 53
Off. 24, Def. 26, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Indiana Players
1. RB Stephen Houston, Sr.
2. QB Tre Roberson, Soph.
3. QB Cameron Coffman, Jr.
4. WR Cody Latimer, Jr.
5. TE Ted Bolser, Sr.
6. S Greg Heban, Sr.
7. OT Jason Spriggs. Soph.
8. RB Tevin Coleman, Soph.
9. WR Shane Wynn, Jr.
10. LB David Cooper, Jr.
2013 Schedule
8/31 Indiana State
9/7 Navy
9/14 Bowling Green
9/21 Missouri
10/5 Penn State
10/12 at Michigan State
10/19 at Michigan
11/2 Minnesota
11/9 Illinois
11/16 at Wisconsin
11/23 at Ohio State
11/30 Purdue
Yeah, it's really starting to come together.

No one's asking Kevin Wilson to turn Indiana into Ohio State overnight, and it's hard to get too fired up after five wins in two seasons with none of them coming against FBS teams that finished with a winning record, but things are starting to change.

Yes, beating Indiana State, UMass, Illinois and Iowa last season was nothing to get jacked up about, but the Hoosiers had the puck on their stick in mid-November with a real chance to take control of the Ohio State and Penn State-less Leaders race when Wisconsin came to town. The final three games were a disaster and the defense seemed to get worse late in the year, but it was still a three-win improvement overall with signs to suggest that positive things were on the horizon.

The passing game – Wilson's forte – more than clicked, leading the Big Ten in yards, and the defense got into the backfield on a regular basis and attacked more than it had in previous years. And now it's time to take that next step forward.

The Hoosiers get 21 of 24 starters back, but just as important is the depth returning to add more pop and options to the mix. A rash of injuries shouldn't be a problem anywhere, with the possible exception of the offensive line, and there are good, young prospects to keep developing and actual fights for jobs.

The offense has the potential to be devastating with ten starters returning and several nice players to work with at the skill spots, and while the defense continues to be a work in progress, there's a young base of prospects in place helped by some of the better recruiting classes the program has come up with in years. Wilson isn't shy about going big-game hunting for talent, and while he might not be getting the five-star guys Michigan and Ohio State are hauling in, he's getting more Big Tem players.

Indiana and Wilson are starting to get just enough talent be more than just competitive in the Big Ten. Wilson is putting the pieces together to actually start winning big games on a regular basis.

Yes, at Indiana.

What to watch for on offense: How much more explosive can the attack be? The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in passing even though they have to rotate a few different quarterbacks throughout the year, and now the results should be devastating. Everyone of note is back with all the quarterbacks, running backs, and ten of the top 11 pass catchers returning. The line has a strong front five and promising backups, and there's impressive depth at each position to play around with. Wilson knows how to put together big-time offenses, and while it has taken a few years to put together, it's starting to happen and the results could be huge.

What to watch for on defense: Can the pass rush start to come from the front four? Former tackle Adam Replogle did most of the work with 13 of the team's 86 tackles for loss and five of the 27 sacks, while the linebackers and defensive backs ended up sharing in the workload to get behind the line. IU led the Big Ten in tackles for loss and was third in sacks, but it didn't translate into better production against deep passes or tide-changing stops against the run. End Ryan Phillis needs to become a bigger factor, and the new tackles have to use their quickness to collapse the pocket on a regular basis.

The team will be far better if … the defense can start winning on third and fourth downs. Part of the problem was that the D just couldn't get off the field. IU was destroyed in time of possession 33:29 to 26:31, and it showed as the defense wore down time and time again. Opposing offenses converted 12-of-18 fourth down chances and 40% of their third down tries, and while IU wasn't bad at keeping the chains moving, it could stand to be far better at coming up with the one big play needed to turn around games. Simply a broken up pass might do.

The schedule: Can the Hoosiers hold serve at home? It's not going to be as easy as it seems with Indiana State not a complete and total pushover to start the year and Navy (offense) and Bowling Green (defense) two nasty games that should be battles. Beating Missouri would be gravy, but the team should be comfortable at home with the first road game not coming until mid-October.

Missing Nebraska from the Legends is nice, but after starting out the Big Ten campaign at home against Penn State, back-to-back road games against Michigan State and Michigan will be a problem. Fortunately, there's a week off before two of the easier games on the slate – Minnesota and Illinois – followed up by a pair of road killers against Wisconsin and Ohio State before finishing up at home with Purdue.

Best offensive player: Senior RB Stephen Houston. The offense is loaded with veterans who could turn into stars with a little more time and work, but Houston, sophomore Tevin Coleman and junior D'Angelo Roberts should set the tone for a running game that should carry its weight a bit more for the passing-oriented attack.

Best defensive player: Senior S Greg Heban. It would be really, really nice if pass rushing end Ryan Phillis, or linebacker Chase Hoobler, or corner Antonio Marshall turned into the defense's biggest playmaker, but Heban is a proven commodity, at least statistically, coming up with 91 tackles last season and doing a solid job against the pass. The three picks led the team, and he got into the backfield from time to time, but he's at his best as an open field tackler. He's more than just a last line of defense.

Key player to a successful season: Defensive tackles Ralphael Green, Adarius Rayner, Alex Todd and Jordan Heiderman. Any big improvement has to start with the defensive front by getting stronger and tougher against the run. Wisconsin blew the curve by ripping off 564 yards and seven scores, but Ohio State, Northwestern, and Ball State had few problems, too. The back seven is experienced and full of decent athletes, so if there's a way to start being just a wee bit stronger and force teams to start throwing more, the big plays should start coming.

The season will be a success if … IU gets back to the post-season. There won't be any runs for the Leaders title, and it'll take a massive upset to beat Wisconsin, Michigan or Ohio State on the road, the but Hoosiers are good enough to beat Indiana State, Navy, Bowling Green, Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. They won't win all six, but they should be able to go 4-2 against that group and steal a win over Penn State and have the make-up to pull off a big upset somewhere. The team is deep enough and good enough to get back to the post-season for the first time since 2007 and be at least two games better than last year.

Key game: Sept. 7 vs. Navy. The Hoosiers lost to the Midshipmen in a 31-30 heartbreaker last season, but the normally porous run defense did a surprisingly decent job allowing 257 yards and two scores, keeping the big plays to a minimum. This year, after starting out the season against Indiana State, a win over Navy would set a good tone with tough games against Bowling Green and Missouri to follow. IU needs to fight to get to six wins, and it might need to start out 2-0 to go bowling.

2012 Fun Stats:
- Time of Possession: Opponents 33:29 – Indiana 26:31
- Rushing Yards Per Game: Opponents 231.3 – Indiana 130.8
- Fumbles: Opponents 15 (lost 6) – Indiana 6 (lost 3)

- 2013 Indiana Preview | 2013 Indiana Offense
- 2013 Indiana Defense | 2013 Indiana Depth Chart