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2010 Indiana Preview - Defense
Indiana LB Tyler Replogle
Indiana LB Tyler Replogle
Posted May 8, 2010 2010 Preview - Indiana Hoosier Defense

Indiana Hoosiers

Preview 2010 - Defense

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- 2010 Indiana Defense | 2010 Indiana Depth Chart
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What You Need To Know: The defense improved last year with a solid core of veterans and enough talent to get by, but it was hardly a brick wall allowing close to 30 points per game. This year’s defense might not be all that bad even with a slew of big replacements needing to shine. The line loses stars Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton, but it should be the strength of the defense with good size, some nice new ends, and a strong tackle in Adam Replogle to build around. The back seven could either be a mess, or an interesting, athletic mess as more 3-4 utilized. Tyler Replogle is a solid linebacker, but the talent and upside are on the second team; there needs to be a good rotation from the start. The secondary didn’t stop anyone last year and now it has to go to the receiving corps for players with only one starter, corner Donnell Jones, returning.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Tyler Replogle, 80
Sacks: Adam Replogle, 4
Interceptions: Four with 1

Star of the defense: Senior LB Tyler Replogle
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior CB Donnell Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Junior DE Darius Johnson
Best pro prospect: Sophomore DT Adam Replogle
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Tyler Replogle, 2) Adam Replogle, 3) DT Larry Black
Strength of the defense: Size, Replogles
Weakness of the defense: Proven Depth, Secondary

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: One of the team’s biggest strengths over the last few years has been defensive end, but now Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton are gone. That puts the spotlight on junior Darius Johnson , a linebacker by trade who moved to end last offseason and ended up making eight tackles and a sack in three games of action before suffering a year end shoulder injury. He’s not all that big at 6-0 and 255 pounds, but he has a lightning-quick first step and is a weight room superstar. After bulking up over the last few years, he should be ready to handle the work.

Potentially shining on the other side of Johnson is Kevin Bush , a 24-year-old who spent the last four years in the Army after transferring from Toledo. The 6-3, 252-pound sophomore has no problems getting the motor going, and he has the potential and the maturity to be a devastating pass rusher on sheer want-to. The coaches rave about him and his potential.

Sophomore Adam Replogle stepped in and started from the second game on. The 6-3, 290-pounder was a decent interior pass rusher making four sacks and finished with a solid 32 tackles. He’s a decent run stopper and is extremely active with the size and the strength to grow into more of an anchor, and he has all-star potential if he can handle being double-teamed and can keep getting into the backfield.

6-2, 309-pound sophomore Larry Black started every game last season and did a nice job making 29 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. He has the size and the bulk to be a space-eater in the middle, but he has to do a better job of handling the double team and he can’t be erased so much against the better power running teams. However, he was great at times against the run and is quick enough to slip into the backfield from time to time.

Projected Top Reserves Looking to be a big part of the end rotation will be 6-3, 285-pound senior Deonte Mack after working most of his career at tackle. He only played in six games last season after having problems with a hip injury, and he only made two tackles. Injuries have been an issue, he also had a shoulder injury to fight through, but he’s a bulked up end who should be decent against the run. However, he’s not going to be a top-shelf pass rusher.

Senior Terrance Thomas was expected to be part of the equation in the end rotation, but he only made six tackle sand didn’t come up with a sack. At 6-1 and 268 pounds he’s small, squatty, and strong, and while he’s versatile enough to be used as a feisty tackle, he’s enough of a tweener to be used on the outside.

Junior Fred Jones was dominant scout teamer a few years ago and saw a little work as a redshirt freshman, but just when the 6-4, 270-pound junior was supposed to be a factor at end he suffered a foot injury and was never right. He only made three tackles and a tackle for loss in three games, but now he’ll get more work.

When the team needs even more bulk on the inside, 6-4, 317-pound sophomore Mick Mentzer will step in. A great recruit from a few years ago, he turned into a nice part of the tackle rotation making 16 tackles. While he’s not going to get into the backfield on a regular basis, he’ll plug up the works against the run.

Nicholas Sliger is an extremely promising 6-3, 295-pound sophomore who got his feet wet last season making seven tackles, one tackle for loss, and came up with a pick against Michigan. He’s quick, active, and has a good motor with the ability to grow into a strong interior pass rusher. A starting tackle job is his next season.

Watch Out For … the pass rush to not suffer a major drop-off. There might not be a Jammie Kirlew or Greg Middleton, who combined for 9.5 sacks, but Johnson, Bush, Mack, Thomas and Jones should be fine and should generate pressure.
Strength: Size. The tackles are extremely big, while the ends would be tackles on many non-BCS teams. The talent might not be special, but there’s enough bulk to continue to be decent against the run.
Weakness: Sure-thing speed rushers. Oh sure, the system and the players on the outside will work their way into the backfield, but there isn’t any one guy who teams are going to have to gameplan for early on. There might be bulk, but there’s isn’t a flash of lightning who can turn it loose around the corner and hit a quarterback in the brain.
Outlook: The defensive line did a decent job last season, but that was because of two fringe-NFL players in Middleton and Kirlew on the outside. There will be more of a rotation this season, and while the run defense will get steamrolled over from time to time, the overall numbers won’t be bad.
Unit Rating: 6


Projected Starters: With leading tackler and do-it-all star Matt Mayberry gone, it’ll be up to senior Tyler Replogle to move into the middle with the hopes that he’ll be an even more disruptive playmaker. The 6-2, 238-pounder made 80 tackles, two sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, and one interception on the strongside last season playing in 11 games. He’s a full-out kamikaze type of player who tore an ACL a few years ago and isn’t afraid to get banged up. Very talented and very football-smart, he’ll earn a few all-star honors.

With Replogle moving inside, Leon Beckum will take over on the strongside after making five tackles as a reserve. The 5-11, 226-pound junior has spent most of his time on special teams, but he’s a quick, smart, tough player who should do a good job of funneling everything to Replogle.

Sophomore Chad Sherer has mostly been a special teamer so far but he moves well and should be a nice fit for the weakside over the next three seasons. He saw a little time on defense and finished the year with seven tackles and a fumble recovery, but he was mostly working in blowouts. At 6-0 and 225 pounds he’s not all that big and will have to prove he can hold up against the run.

Projected Top Reserves: Needing to make an impact right away is JUCO transfer Jeff Thomas , a 6-1, 249-pound hitter who set the Foothill C.C. career tackles record and made 104 stops and 14.5 tackles for loss last year. Extremely tough and very active, if he’s great right away, Replogle can move back to the outside.

Redshirt freshman Damon Sims was a scout team star last year and will be used in a variety of ways. Arguably the team’s most athletic linebacker, he’s a natural for the weakside with great quickness and the ability to sniff out plays before they happen. At 6-3 and 230 pounds he has the size to go along with his basic skills. He’s going to be a good one with a little bit of time.

Redshirt freshman Dimitrius Carr-Watson is a 6-1, 235-pound speedster who can be used at either outside spot. Good against the pass, he’ll have few problems staying with the backs in pass coverage, while he has good enough size to hold up against the run. But his job is all about speed’; he was an all-star sprinter in high school.

Watch Out For … the backups. Replogle is a good one and the projected starting front three will turn out to be fine, but there’s a good chance that the trio of Sims, Thomas, and Carr-Watson will be far better and far more effective.
Strength: Hitters. This is a decent-sized group that makes tackles. There might be too many stops made down the field, but toughness and the willingness to try to make a big stuff isn’t going to be an issue.
Weakness: Sure things other than Replogle. While the reserves have talent and a world of upside, and the new starters on the outside should be fine, losing Matt Mayberry is a problem and there isn’t a lot to rely on from the start out side of Replogle.
Outlook: The linebackers are going to be active and they’re going to be used in a variety of ways, including getting into the backfield. This should be an interesting mix of talents that might not be great right away, and has several big question marks about the overall skill level and the experience, but it’ll be worth watching out for.
Unit Rating: 6


Projected Starters: The secondary will have to scrap together parts from several places to be functional, but the one returning starter to count on will be junior Donnell Jones , a very fast, still emerging player who did a nice job in his first year making a solid 30 tackles with one interception and four broken up passes. At 5-10 and 210 pounds he has decent size and great range, but now he has to go from being a complementary player to a shut-down corner.

Moving over from wide receiver to take over for Austin Thomas at strong safety is Mitchell Evans . The 6-3, 200-pound senior was fourth on the team in receiving making 33 catches for 366 yards and three scores, but the receiving corps is so loaded, and the secondary so depleted, that he’ll move over. He has the tools with great size and good speed, but does he have the instincts and the toughness? He’ll need to right away for a defensive back seven that needs a steady hitter.

Chris Adkins has seen time at corner and can move around where needed, and he’ll get the first look to replace Nick Polk at free safety. The 6-1, 195-pound junior saw plenty of action early on making 14 tackles and an interception before getting knocked out for the year with an elbow injury. He has the range and he should be more of a ball-hawk, but he also has to show he can be an intimidating factor when he gets the chance.

Stepping in at the other corner spot on the other side of Donnell Jones will be Adrian Burks , a part-time starter who stepped in over the final four games of last year at corner and finished the year with 21 tackles. He didn’t pick off a pass and he has to show he can do more when the ball is in the air, but the 6-0, 185-pound senior has experience and should be decent, if not spectacular.

Projected Top Reserves: Jerimy Finch has tremendous 6-1, 224-pound size and was supposed to be a key part of the safety rotation, but he only played in seven games and was mostly a special teamer. He didn’t make any tackles, but came up with two fumble recoveries against Western Michigan. With his size he could play a role in some way, but if he was better, Evans wouldn’t be moving over from receiver.

Trying to be a bigger factor at corner is Richard Council , a 6-1, 201-pound senior who has enough starting experience to step in and play when needed. He started for half of last year and ended up making 22 tackles with two broken up passes, but he struggled way too much in pass coverage and should be destined to be more of a nickel and dime back. Staying healthy is an issue getting knocked out two years ago and missing time last year with an ankle problem.

Junior Matt Ernst can play just about anywhere in the secondary but will spend most of his time at corner. The one-time wide receiver and current IU pitcher made seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown last season and made five stops. At 6-2 and 190 pounds he has good size and nice speed, but he’ll be behind Burks and will have to make a few big plays early to see more time.

Watch Out For … the JUCO transfers. Lenyatta Kiles has the potential to step in and start right away and Andre Kates has a ton of upside. The two JUCO transfers will get every chance to start if they can at least be serviceable.
Strength: Size. There might not be much in the way of blazing speed, and the talent is in question, but this is a huge group with a slew of safety-sized players who can all tackle. But …
Weakness: … can they cover anyone? Last year’s secondary gave up 242 yards per game and 21 touchdowns, but it was able to pick off 16 passes. Anyone who can throw will be bombing away to test the green group.
Outlook: Last year’s secondary was among the worst in the conference, and that was with playmakers like Nick Polk and Austin Thomas. Three starters have to be replaced and it’s looking for help from everywhere. It’s a patchwork group going into the fall, and there could be several changes in the rotation before the right combination is found.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: Junior Nick Freeland stepped in for Austin Starr, and out of the blue, and struggled hitting 14-of-25 field goals and all 34 of his extra points attempts. He has no range whatsoever, missing all five of his kicks from beyond 40 yards, and he wasn’t consistent, but he’ll get the first shot to win back the job even though redshirt freshman Mitch Ewald was one of the nation’s top kicking prospects two years ago and has a much stronger leg.

Junior punter Chris Hagerup followed a great freshman season with a sputtering sophomore campaign. He averaged 42.4 yards per boot in 2008, but tore his ACL and was never quite right last year averaging 40.5 yards per try with 12 put inside the 20. He has the potential, though, to be a weapon who can air it out once he’s right.

Top receiver Tandon Doss will get the first crack at the full-time return duties. Last year he led the team averaging 21.3 yards per try, and while he only got four chances to return punts, he averaged 11 yards per shot.

Watch Out For … Hagerup to rebound. He wasn’t awful last season, but he didn’t get a lot of help from his coverage teams and he didn’t come up with a good enough, or consistent enough, season. Watch for him to be a fringe All-Big Ten punter.
Strength: Experience. The starting kickers are back and the Hoosiers were among the best in the nation in kickoff returns. Ray Fisher helped the cause, but Doss is more than good enough to handle most of the load.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. IU was 17th in the nation in kickoff returns averaging 24.1 yards per shot, but the coverage team allowed 23.2 yards per return. Freeland doesn’t have a deep leg meaning the door should be open for Ewald.
Outlook: The return game has often been special for IU over the years, and now the kicking game has to follow. Hagerup is a good one who’ll be just fine, but for a team that lost three games last season by three points or fewer, a steady placekicker will be the difference between a bowl game and a losing season.
Unit Rating: 6.5

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