2007 Indiana Preview

Posted Jun 17, 2007

The death of head coach Terry Hoeppner will obviously be the focal point of the 2007 Hoosiers, and Kellen Lewis, James Hardy, and an emerging offense should be able to do their late leader proud.

Indiana Hoosiers

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Indiana Offense Preview | 2007 Indiana Defense Preview
2007 Indiana Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Indiana Preview 

Indiana is still light years away from being a consistent contender in the Big Ten race, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be far more competitive and be a thorn in everyone’s side.  

Coaches live for challenges, and Terry Hoeppner, who likely could’ve waited for a much bigger gig after several successful seasons at Miami University, took on a huge one two years ago when he became the head man at the Big Ten’s version of the Los Angeles Clippers. He finally appeared to have things in place for a good season, and appeared ready to pull off one of the college football's most impressive feats by taking IU to a bowl game, and then tragedy struck.

Head coach: Bill Lynch
15th year: 81-67-3
Returning Lettermen: 42
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best Hoosier Players
CB Tracy Porter, Sr.
2. WR James Hardy, Jr.
3. QB Kellen Lewis, Soph.
4. RB/KR Marcus Thigpen, Jr.
5. CB Leslie Majors, Sr.
6. DE Greg Brown, Jr.
7. OT Rodger Sadfold, Soph.
8. LB Geno Johnson, Jr.
9. OG Pete Saxon, Soph.
10. DE Jammie Kirlow, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7

Sept. 1

Indiana State

Sept. 8

at Western Mich

Sept. 15


Sept. 22


Sept. 29

at Iowa

Oct. 6


Oct. 13

at Michigan State

Oct. 20

Penn State

Oct. 27

at Wisconsin

Nov. 3

Ball State

Nov. 10

at Northwestern

Nov. 17


2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Results: 5
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Western Mich W 39-20
9/9 at Ball State W 24-23
9/16 Southern Illinois L 35-28
9/23 Connecticut L 14-7
9/30 Wisconsin L 52-17
10/7 at Illinois W 34-32
10/14 Iowa W 31-28
10/21 at Ohio State L 44-3
10/28 Michigan State W 46-21
11/4 at Minnesota L 63-26
11/11 Michigan L 34-3
11/18 at Purdue L 28-19

A second brain tumor claimed the life of Hoeppner, taking away one of the most respected coaches in the game, and the driving who believed that Indiana could be a place where winning football could actually exist. There was nothing hokey about his approach or his belief. He accepted no excuses; he really thought he could build a potential player in the Big Ten race. As a credit to his legacy, his team in more talent than the program has seen in years.

While the team will rally around Hoeppner's memory, it also has emerging young leaders. All struggling teams need at least one great prospect to build around, and the Hoosiers found their man in quarterback Kellen Lewis, who showed the moxie of a longtime veteran in his freshman season. Paired with receiver James Hardy, who’s put up tremendous numbers in his first two seasons, Lewis is set to explode and be the type of player who hasn’t scared Big Ten teams since Antwaan Randle El was in Bloomington.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Big Ten should be better this year, meaning it’ll be a weekly fight for IU to scrape up a few wins. That’s not to say the offense can’t catch fire and do what it did against Iowa and Michigan State last year, but realistically, the Hoosiers need turnovers and big breaks to stay with the top teams. The program might be better, but it’s not where Hoeppner wanted it to be quite yet.

The defense could use more size, the offensive line needs to be more physical, and the team needs to learn how to close after losing its final three games last year. If nothing else, this will be an exciting team that will score in bunches at times, be maddening at others, and for the first time in years, will be a factor in some way, shape or form in the conference race.

What to watch for on offense: The coaching staff likes to use several receivers in an up-tempo style that’s great when things are going well, but can lead to way to quick three-and-outs when it’s not working. The line isn’t all that big and isn’t going to dominate in the ground game, so the emergence and improvement of Lewis will be everything. As he goes, so will the attack. Hardy might be the Big Ten’s best receiver not playing at Michigan, and should win at least two games by himself.

What to watch for on defense: Theoretically, IU would love to attack, attack, attack with a smallish, quick defense, but more often than not it’ll have to read and react unless the defensive front four plays much better than it did last year. This is a veteran group that should be more effective and should create more turnovers and big plays, but don’t expect it to be a brick wall against the run. The Big Ten teams with the better offensive lines should be able to run at will.

The team will be far better if … it’s able to move the chains a bit better. Lewis is the team’s most dangerous running threat, and the lines aren’t built to run consistently or stop the run. The defense needs as much time off the field as possible, so Lewis needs to be better at cranking out long drives and connecting on his third-down passes.

The Schedule: Who goes on the road to play to MAC teams? A team coached by a former MAC head man does. IU gets a layup against Indiana State to start the season before going to Western Michigan and Akron, while a third MAC game, against Ball State late in the year, is in Bloomington. The Big Ten season starts out against Illinois in a battle of Big Ten also-rans looking to get off to a hot start. Beating Minnesota, Penn State or Purdue at home would be a big key to the program’s progression. The big plus? No Ohio State and no Michigan.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Kellen Lewis.  Yeah, junior receiver James Hardy is the best offensive player going into the season, but that'll change. There’s hope surrounding the Hoosier program for the first time in ages because of young players like Lewis, who led IU in rushing and passing as a freshman despite beginning the year No. 3 on the depth chart.  You don’t have to be an NFL scout to recognize Lewis’ many physical gifts, but it’s his unexpected poise and leadership qualities that have the program thinking it’s close to returning to the postseason.          

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Tracy Porter.  The Hoosiers’ best playmaker on defense and most reliable cover corner is already No. 10 on the school’s all-time list for interceptions.  Porter makes sharp breaks on passes, always draws the opposition’s most dangerous receiver and is a real nuisance on special teams, blocking kicks and returning punts.   

Key player to a successful season: Defensive linemen Jammie Kirlew, Greg Brown and Joe Kremer. With the graduation of Kenny Kendal, the line needs to find another top pass rusher. Not that Kendal was a stud with his four sacks, but he was the team’s best end at applying a little bit of pressure. For a D that desperately needs more sacks, everyone has to do more. Kirlew has the most promise, but Brown should be the best llinemen of the bunch.

The season will be a success if ... the Hoosiers go to a bowl for the first time since 1993. It’s not going to be easy and there can’t be any mistakes against the mediocre teams. The chance is there for a special year if there’s an upset or two in the mix over someone like Minnesota or Penn State. If IU can beat Indiana State, Western Michigan, Akron, Illinois, Minnesota, Ball State and Northwestern, or at least six of the seven, a 13th game will be possible.

Key game: Sept. 22 vs. Illinois. Assuming IU can get past two MAC road games, it’ll have a shot at a 4-0 start against the Illini before going to Iowa. Win the Big Ten home opener, win three of the final eight games, go to a bowl. It might be that simple.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 130; Indiana 48
- Fourth down conversion: Opponents 4 of 5 (80%); Indiana 8 of 23 (35%)
- Red zone touchdowns: Opponents 34 of 46 (74%); Indiana 21 of 37 (57%)


Related Stories
2007 Indiana Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007
2007 Indiana Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007
2007 Indiana Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007

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