2010 Indiana Preview - Offense
Indiana QB Ben Chappell
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Indiana Hoosier Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Last year the plan was to do more power running and rely less on the passing, and it didn't happen. Now, the strength of offensive coordinator Matt Canada's attack will be a tremendous group of receivers that could be the best in the Big Ten, and a veteran passer in QB Ben Chappell who knows how to spread the ball around and knows how to spot the mismatches. The O line that was among the best in the league in pass protection will be fine even with a few key replacements, but there needs to be more of a push, and more of a commitment, to the ground game. Darius Willis is a big-time talent in the backfield, but he has to prove he can be a workhorse and he has to be consistent after a good, but not great year.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Ben Chappell
Passing: Ben Chappell
268-428, 2,941 yds, 17 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Darius Willis
123 carries, 607 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Tandon Doss
77 catches, 962 yds, 5 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Andrew McDonald
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C Will Matte
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Tandon Doss
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Doss, 2) WR Damarlo Belcher, 3) RB Darius Willis
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Willis
Weakness of the offense: Run Blocking, Backup Running Backs
Projected Starter: The big question going into last season was whether or not Ben Chappell could handle the workload taking over for the enigmatic Kellen Lewis. He was fine when he got his chance as a sophomore, and he blossomed as a junior completing 63% of his passes for 2,941 yards and 17 touchdowns. While he's great at driving his throws down the field and he's always pressing and always trying to make the key play, he also is prone to mistakes throwing 15 picks including eight in the last four games. At 6-3 and 239 pounds he has nice size and a live arm, but he's not all that mobile. While he ran for three scores, he's not going to run for positive yards on a regular basis.
Projected Top Reserves At 6-5 and 236 pounds, sophomore Adam Follett is a big bomber and a strong scout teamer over the last few years. He didn't see much action last season completing just one of three throws for 13 yards, but he has experience in the system, has good athleticism, and brings more to the position than Chappell. It'll be his job to prepare to be the main man next season.
A far more athletic option to work with is redshirt freshman Edward Wright-Baker , a 6-1, 225-pound runner who was one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks coming out last year. Not just a runner, Wright-Baker has a good arm and can push the ball down the field. While he's not tremendously accurate, he's good enough considering his quickness and rushing skills.
Watch Out For … Chappell to take his game to another level. He's a smart player with good college passing skills and the makeup to make big things happen, but he hasn't had a lot of luck so far. He's the team leader who doesn't have to worry about the Kellen Lewis factor anymore.
Strength: Passers. In Chappell and Follett, the Hoosiers have to good arms and big throwers who can stretch a secondary and keep the pressure on. Wright-Baker could become an interesting X factor as both a passer and a runner.
Weakness: Proven backup production. Follett has had plenty of practice time, but he hasn't logged the game miles to step in and shine if something happens to Chappell. That might have to change to be ready for next year.
Outlook: What was considered a stopgap position last year could now be a strength. Chappell isn't going to earn All-Big Ten honors, but he should put up a 3,000-yard season and should bother the heck out of some of the better defenses. Follett is a good prospect who needs time as soon as possible.
Unit Rating: 7
Projected Starters: If there's any one player the Hoosiers can least afford to lose, and most need to come up with a big year, it's sophomore Darius Willis after all the promise he showed rushing for 607 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-0, 225-pounder has an excellent combination of speed, power, and home-run hitting ability with 85 of his yards coming on a dash against Michigan. However, he had three big games (152 yards against Michigan, 103 against Northwestern, and 142 against Purdue), and that was about it. Staying healthy was a problem, and he didn't get enough of the workload, but this year he needs to be fed the ball early and often, and he has to live up to his potential.
Projected Top Reserves Senior Trea Burgess is a former linebacker with 6-1, 230-pound size and good power. He didn't get a ton of work last year, but he was a great special teamer and ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns in more of a short-yardage role, and he caught three passes for 13 yards. The Hoosiers don't use a fullback, but Burgess comes close.
While he wasn't as heralded as Willis was out of high school, true freshman Antonio Banks has the skills to be a factor early on. The idea will be to redshirt him, but the 5-10, 200-pound speedster has good cutback ability and is a slippery between-the-tackles runner. He's a smart player who should pick things up quickly.
5-11, 200-pound Matt Perez was a Parade All-American after rushing for 3,393 yards and 56 touchdowns in two years as the starter at Maine South in Chicago. A tough player who could also move to linebacker, there will be a spot for him somewhere with sprinter speed, good power, and phenomenal high school production.
Watch Out For … Willis to come up with a breakout year. The running game is a bit of an afterthought in the IU offense, but with a player with the talent of Willis, who'd be hyped up as one of college football's next big things if he was at Ohio State or Wisconsin, it's time to use the star. He could be the difference between a good season and another losing campaign.
Strength: Blends. Willis has a great combination of speed and power, and the two top true freshmen, Perez and Banks, can both move and can both hit. Burgess is purely a power runner, but he's quick enough to get through the hole.
Weakness: Production. When the line wasn't opening holes, Willis wasn't going anywhere. He has to prove he can be durable enough to handle a bulk of the workload, while there's no one to count on behind him. Burgess isn't a 20-carry-a-game back, and the coaching staff isn't going to want to put the true freshmen out there.
Outlook: It's all about Willis. If he isn't having a big game, IU won't have a running attack. Burgess is a short specialist and will power it here and there, but if Willis isn't coming up with the yards in chunks, the offense will completely and totally rely on the passing attack.
Unit Rating: 6
Projected Starters: After a promising true freshman season, making 14 grabs, junior Tandon Doss turned into the team's top target catching 77 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns averaging 12.5 yards per catch. At 6-3 and 195 pounds he has excellent size and game-breaking ability, but while he's not a speedster he can stretch the field. More than anything else, it's his job to be a consistent No. 1 target, which he was last year catching five passes or more in every game but the season-finale four-catch, 51-yard day against Purdue.
Junior Demarlo Belcher grew into a rock-steady No. 2 target with five catches or more in eight games finishing second on the team with 61 grabs for 770 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 12.6 yards per catch, and with 6-5, 215-pound size, he has the potential to be a dangerous receiver with the upside to be unstoppable around the goal line. He's a matchup nightmare for smaller defensive backs.
Senior Terrance Turner was supposed to be the team's top target going into last year, and while he had a strong 46-catch, 443-yard, one score season, it wasn't the year expected. Part of the reason was the emergence of Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher, but that doesn't mean the 6-3, 210-pound veteran can't do more. An amazing athlete who's now three years past a really, really bad knee injury, he's fully healthy and could become an even bigger part of the attack with too much speed and too much size to only have one career score. He didn't explode and didn't come up with any huge plays, but that's going to change.
IU does a decent job of keeping the tight end involved, but only on short to midrange plays. Junior Max Dedmond caught 18 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, and while he disappeared for stretches, he came up with three grabs against Iowa and four against Michigan. At 6-5 and 255 pounds, he has the size to be a decent blocker but is more of a receiver. He fights well for the ball and outmuscles his way for catches, but he's not a field stretcher.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 208-pound Tyler Adetona has the potential to be a deep threat working behind Turner. A good athlete with excellent upside, he has yet to catch a pass seeing just a little bit of time last year, but if nothing else, he has an interesting future ahead of him. He might not project to be an NFL star, but he's going to be the next king of a tribe in Nigeria; the sophomore is a prince.
The upside is limitless for 6-1, 205-pound redshirt freshman Jamonne Chester . A fantastic athlete who spent time as a quarterback in high school, he's a tough, quick player who should be the type of player who takes short passes a long way. Now he needs work in the rotation with Tandon Doss.
Redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson was one of the team's top recruits last year. The 6-3, 200-pounder was the 2008 Mr. Football in Indiana catching 49 passes for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season, and with his size and hands, he should fit in now that he'll get some work. He had a tremendous offseason and should become a major part of the rotation early on.
Senior Brad Martin is more of a blocker and a special teamer than anything else, but he'll get a little bit of time at tight end after getting a start last year against Penn State and getting on the field in almost every game. He only has one career catch, but the 6-4, 245-pounder has the experience to make a few grabs and be a bit more involved.
Watch Out For … the receiving corps to possibly be the best in the Big Ten. There are some good ones throughout the league, but the trio of Doss, Belcher, and Turner are ultra-productive, experienced, and will drive Big Ten secondaries nuts.
Strength: Size and experience. The top three pass catchers combined for 184 catches for 1,215 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. They're all big, they can all move, and they're all going to be matchup problems.
Weakness: Raw deep speed. This is a very tall receiving corps and there's good athleticism to count on, but there isn't a true blazer who can blow past the faster defensive backs. The backups have almost no experience whatsoever.
Outlook: What was supposed to be one of the Big Ten's top breakout units exceeded expectations as the youth and inexperience turned into production and reliability. There might not be a sure-thing all-star in the group, but the wealth will be spread around and everyone will produce. Defenses can't double everyone, and the IU passing game will take advantage of the matchups.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: Step one will be to be to find a replacement for all-star left tackle Rodger Saffold, a rock in pass protection. 6-6, 304-pound junior Andrew McDonald hasn't seen much game action and will be the key to the front five. He has the size and he should know what he's doing having been in the system for three years, but now he has to live up to his prep hype and become the steady all-around blocker the coaching staff thinks he can be.
Returning to his starting spot in the middle is 6-2, 295-pound sophomore Will Matte , a solid all-around blocker who did a terrific job in his first season starting every game and holding his own throughout after dominating on the scout team as a true freshman. While he's not a devastating run blocker, he has decent strength and does a good job in pass protection and in line calls. He'll be an all-star before his career is done either at center or guard.
Junior Justin Pagan started 11 games at left guard but could be moved to tackle if needed. The 6-5, 332-pound blocker doesn't do enough with his size for the ground game, but he's a steady guard who takes up a ton of space. For his size, he's just good enough an athlete to be useful on the move, and he has just enough experience to help pick up the slack on the left side with the loss of Saffold.
6-5, 315-pound Cody Faulkner was one of the team's top recruits of a few years ago and has yet to live up to his potential. He was never healthy last season and was limited to a few games of work thanks to a foot problem, but if he's right, he could be the breakout player on the line in his senior year with tremendous strength and the size to be a key run blocker at right guard.
The biggest concern going into last season on the line was right tackle, where James Brewer was an untested, but promising prospect. A huge 6-8, 335-pounder, he came through with a fantastic year, was next to impossible to get around, and showed just enough movement to handle himself against the speed rushers. While he doesn't have a ton of pure athleticism or all-around talent, he started every game last year and should be a steady rock if he can stay healthy. He has had issues with a foot injury in the past.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Marc Damisch opened up the season as the starting left guard against Eastern Kentucky, but he gave was to Justin Pagan almost immediately. At 6-6 and 315 pounds he has excellent size and is versatile enough to play either guard spot, but he'll spend this year as an understudy. The potential is there to grow into one of the team's better run blockers.
It's just a question of time before redshirt freshman Aaron Price makes an impact. The 6-4, 298-pounder is very smart and was a fantastic scout teamer last year, and while he's build like a tackle, he'll likely be used at guard where he'll be a versatile and physical blocker.
The team's most experienced backup tackle is Josh Hager , a very tall 6-9, 301-pound blocker who saw a little time over the last two years and will push for time on the left side. While he doesn't move all that well, he's so big that he's next to impossible to get around. He needs to be a key part of the rotation to try to get into the mix for a starting job next year.
Watch Out For … McDonald. The Brewer will be fine in pass protection on the other side, but he's not necessarily a left tackle. McDonald has the talent and has the size, but he has to be steady from Day One or else the passing game will break down.
Strength: Size. There might not be a ton of athleticism, even though the pass protection has been great, but this is a big group that takes up a lot of space. They know how to use their bulk against the better pass rusher.
Weakness: The running game. Considering how big the line is, there isn't enough power running. This should be a group that lines up and sits on the defensive line five yards down the field, but it can't do it.
Outlook: The starting five will be fine with McDonald and Faulkner likely to fill in the gaps without a problem, but the reserves and the rotation could be a problem. This will once again be a strong pass blocking unit, but there needs to be more of a commitment to the running game to properly use all the sides of beef and the power. As long as everyone stays healthy, all will be fine.
Unit Rating: 6.5
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