2010 Indiana Preview
Indana WR Tandon Doss
Indana WR Tandon Doss
Posted May 8, 2010

The best receiving corps in the Big Ten might be ... Indiana's? The Hoosiers have several potential problems, but the passing attack should be terrific and every game should be a fun shootout. Check out the CFN 2010 Indiana Hoosier Preview.

Indiana Hoosiers

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Bill Lynch
18th year overall: 95-90-3
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Indiana Players
1. WR/KR Tandon Doss, Jr.
2. LB Tyler Replogle, Sr.
3. WR Demarlo Belcher, Jr.
4. RB Darius Willis, Soph.
5. QB Ben Chappell, Sr.
6. C Will Matte, Soph.
7. DT Adam Replogle, Soph.
8. WR Terrance Turner, Sr.
9. DT Larry Black, Soph.
10. P Chris Hagerup, Jr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 2 Towson
Sept. 11 OPEN DATE
Sept. 18 at WKU
Sept. 25 Akron
Oct. 2 Michigan
Oct. 9 at Ohio St
Oct. 16 Arkansas St
Oct. 23 at Illinois
Oct. 30 Northwestern
Nov. 6 Iowa
Nov. 13 at Wisconsin
Nov. 20 Penn St (in Landover, MD)
Nov. 27 at Purdue

Indiana tries hard, has made a little noise, and has had a game or two here and there when it looked like it could be on the verge of becoming a better program. But the wins just haven't been flowing , the talent hasn't been comparable to the rest of the Big Ten, and despite the late Terry Hoeppner's belief that Hoosier football really could be good, it's going to take something special to change around the culture and the system.

It's not like the state of Indiana doesn't care about football. While it might be a basketball-mad place, it's home to Notre Dame, the second biggest franchise in all of sports (behind the New York Yankees). Purdue has always had a football buzz, and the Peyton Manning Colts have become a big thing. Also, it's not like the hoops team is doing anything to make IU a basketball school; there's room for Indiana football to do more.

But like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas, it's hard to change around the sports identity of a school. On the flip side, Texas and Florida have had success on the hardwood success, but many fans of the two schools would trade a basketball national title for gridiron win over Oklahoma and Alabama, respectively, in a heartbeat. For Indiana to find a mix and to be better on the football field, it has to come up with a niche, and it has to find one thing that it can do better than anyone else. In other words, it has to come up with an identity.

Where Hoeppner failed in his belief about the potential of Indiana football was in the way he thought the team could play it straight. Upgrade the players, get the right mix in place, build a bit, and then the Hoosiers could eventually turn things around. But to make a big change, there has to be something to grab on to. Wisconsin was a doormat for years until Barry Alvarez arrived and built around a power running game. Kansas took a step out of the basketball shadow under Mark Mangino thanks to a high-octane passing offense. Indiana, this year, has big receivers and the potential for a great passing game, but that might not be enough to get by and it might not be enough to take a big step forward.

There's a chance IU could have the best receiving corps in the Big Ten, but the offense might hang 45 points on the board every week and the defense could give away 50. The D wasn't a prize last season and now it has to replace almost everyone in the back seven and loses its two best players (ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton) on the line. The offensive line will be solid, Darius Willis could grow into a special back, and QB Ben Chappell has a live arm and knows how to use it, but it's going to take a few quirks and a lot of luck to get to a bowl game.

Going forward, IU has to simply start winning on a regular basis to get some momentum. But before that, this has to be a year when the team shows promise and potential. It needs to come up with something to scare the rest of the Big Ten.

What to watch for on offense: The passing game. Darius Willis is a talented back, but he's not going to get a ton of carries and the big line doesn't do much to open big holes. IU's only chance at a good year is to bomb away, and it has the receivers to do it. Tandon Doss, Damarlo Belcher, and Terrance Turner aren't Big Ten household names, but they're very big, very productive, and they'll pose matchup problems for everyone with smallish corners. It also helps to have a quarterback in Ben Chappell who knows how to spread the ball around.

What to watch for on defense: Making up for a lack of talent and experience with a lot of running. IU's defense might not be consistent, but it'll be flying around trying to make something happen. Only four starters return, but that doesn't mean the coaching staff won't get creative with the blitzing and the aggressiveness including a little more of a 3-4 alignment from time to time. There will be some big mistakes allowed, but for the most part the defense should be able to force turnovers and should be able to swarm to the ball with a high-motor. Once in a while, though, some team with talent will come out and lay a pasting on the IU D.

The team will be far better if … the placekicking is rock-solid. IU will be involved in shootout after shootout with a defense that won't stop anyone and an offense that, on occasion, will put up yards and points in bunches. As mediocre as last year's 4-8 team was, it would've gone bowling if it won two of the games that were decided by three points or fewer. The Hoosiers lost by three to Michigan, by one to Northwestern, and by three to Wisconsin, and they should've beaten the Wolverines and Wildcats. After Nick Freeland hit only 14-of-25 field goals, a little more production could mean a bigger season.

The schedule: There isn't a non-conference game the Hoosiers won't be favored in. Towson, at Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State isn't exactly what most would call a murderer's row of teams to deal with. Missing Michigan State and Minnesota in conference action isn't a positive, and having to go to Ohio State and Wisconsin stings even more with the Penn State game being played in Landover, Maryland. The bye week comes too early, September 11th, but if the Hoosiers can upset Michigan, they'll almost certainly be 4-0 going into Michigan Week.

Best offensive player: Junior WR/KR Tandon Doss. RB Darius Willis might turn out to be the best player, and the team certainly needs him to be, and QB Ben Chappell will be the star of the show, but the 6-3, 195-pound Doss should be an All-Big Ten caliber receiver after making 77 catches for 962 yards and five touchdowns, and he has the potential to be a special return man after a great year returning kickoffs, averaging 21.3 yards per try, and dabbling as a punt returner.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Tyler Replogle. He wins the honor of being the team's best defensive player almost by default. Of the top nine tackles of last year, he's the only one returning and he'll have to come up with an all-star year to make up for all the new faces around him. He could have a monster statistical season as he'll be allowed to roam around and do whatever is needed to get to the ball.

Key player to a successful season: Junior OT Andrew McDonald. One of the strength of last year's team was the pass protection, and three good starters return. One of the losses is Rodger Saffold, a steady left tackle who wasn't special, but he got the job done. McDonald is a 6-6, 304-pound talent who hasn't quite been able to step up into a major role. Now he'll get his chance with a great frame and enough experience to step in and produce, but he'll be pushed hard for the job.

The season will be a success if … the Hoosiers go to a bowl game. It might be a battle between Indiana and Minnesota for the dishonor of being the Big Ten's worst team, but the schedule works out nicely with Towson, at Western Kentucky, and Akron to start the season, and with home games against Michigan, Arkansas State, and Northwestern providing the hope to get to six wins. IU will have to outbomb at least one team to get a bowl bid, and it'll have to catch someone napping, but the potential is there to get back to a bowl for the first time since 2007.

Key game: Oct. 2 vs. Michigan. IU has lost 16 straight to the Wolverines with the last victory a 14-10 shocker in 1987. Considering how soft the first part of the season is, if the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten opener, they have a serious shot of starting 5-1 (assuming a loss at Ohio State) and with a decent chance to get bowl eligible before November with at Illinois and Northwestern to follow. There are few winnable home games in Big Ten play for IU, and this will be one of them.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 5-of-6 (83%) – IU 8-of-15 (53%)
- Fumbles: Opponents 22 (lost 13) – Indiana 15 (lost 7)
- Third down conversions: Opponents 76-of-160 (48%) – IU 68-of-174 (39%)

- 2010 Indiana Preview | 2010 Indiana Offense
- 2010 Indiana Defense | 2010 Indiana Depth Chart
- Indiana Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006