The IU football program continued to show signs of improvement under coach Kevin Wilson in 2013. The team once again improved its win total but was still left with a disappointing 5-7 record.
While analysts and fans alike were saying ‘Bowl Game or Bust’ last year, it definitely holds true for this season as well. That might be difficult as IU has the 24th most difficult schedule in the country this season.
IU’s Big Ten slate included newcomers Rutgers and Maryland, who were both decent last season and it will remain to be seen how well they transition into the new conference. IU also has to travel to Michigan and Ohio State in addition to hosting Michigan State and Penn State.
The Hoosiers thankfully didn’t schedule Navy again and have a favorable non-conference schedule outside of a trip to Missouri. A 3-1 record outside of the conference would be great and is a very real possibility. That means they’ll just need to win three more to become bowl eligible. There is reason to believe that this team could push to be a seven win team which would likely secure Wilson’s future for at least a few more years.
IU is at a point where they have to be competitive against the middle of the pack teams in the Big Ten and the rest of the NCAA.
The Hoosiers will have to move on after the departure of wideouts Kofi Hughes and, more importantly, Cody Latimer. Luckily this years recruiting class is heavy on the position with three talented freshmen coming headlined by Pike’s Dominique Booth (6-foot, 200-pounds).
Wilson appeared ready to utilize the two-headed quarterback with Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson this fall, but Roberson recently transferred and Sudfeld will take over the position. Expect to see more spread formations and zero read-option plays as Sudfeld is not equipped to run with the ball.
The line will benefit from the return of Dan Feeney, who was out all season. He is one of the Hoosiers best linemen and will help solidify the mediocre protection from last season. Hopefully, Sudfeld will have a better internal clock this time around and not get happy feet in the pocket.
The amount of experience across the line is encouraging as well. They have six players with at least 12 career starts and 10 total players who have seen significant snaps.
Running back Tevin Coleman is a monster and will likely have more carries this season. His health will have a lot to do with the success of the offense.
Expect more of the same for IU from the offense. A pass happy, fast paced attack the sprinkles in the run and puts up a lot of points and yards.
IU will miss safety Greg Heban, who was always a reliable player and could make an NFL roster. But after the historically bad season is there such a thing as a loss? Can the next player really be worse?
10 starters are returning and with that bring more experience. This team was awfully young last season and maybe after giving up so many big plays they’ll have learned something new.
The Hoosiers finally got rid of defensive coordinator Doug Mallory, who should have been fired mid-season, and replaced him with Brian Knorr. He was able to work wonders at Wake Forest and they ranked 44th in the country. That sort of improvement, coupled with the high powered offense, will win IU a number of games.
If IU could just adopt a bend-don’t-break mentality, that would be an improvement over last season. They’ll be switching to a 3-4 system and hopefully have the personnel to do so effectively. Cutting down on big plays allowed would be a huge improvement for a unit that now has quite a bit of experience.
I want to say that IU’s defense will be notably better, and its hard to sink any further than last season. The switch at coordinator was a long time coming and the physical and mental improvement of the players will lead to better play on the field.
Hopefully the scheme switch doesn’t present too many problems as it can be hard to find players who fit a 3-4 style of play.
IU looks poised for another jump in performance. They have produced a better record every season under Wilson and if that holds true the Hoosiers will be receiving a bowl game bid in December.