Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers finally turned a corner under Kevin Wilson last season by getting to a bowl game (they lost) after five seasons, but Indiana parted company with a very vague issue regarding player abuse that was never completely clarified. The firing was quick and planned out, and now Tom Allen, the DC from last year, was promoted to head coach. This was a highly questionable move nationally speaking, and the Hoosiers will have to prove that they have enough to get back to a bowl this fall with a new coach, or any progress from last season will be for naught.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Three linemen will be back, and will form a foundation for an offense that struggled last season to score just over 25 points per game. Coy Cronk, Brandon Knight, and Wes Martin all return up front to help build up this unit.
Nick Westbrook is back at WR after leading the team in receiving last fall with 54 receptions for 995 yards and six scores. He averaged 18.43 yards per reception last fall, and is one of the better deep threats in the nation.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Are more concerns, or questions, than certainties heading into the new season. It all starts with QB Richard Legow. Legow has never really stepped into the role with full confidence at QB, and last season was a prime example. He tossed 19 TD passes, but also tossed 17 INTs on the season, and only completed 57.8% of his attempts. He averaged 258.6 yards per game, but he was all over the place otherwise.
Devine Redding was slated to be back as the starting back, but he is gone, and now the Hoosiers are left with no clear answers across the board in the run game. Finding a prime candidate to carry the load, or even identifying a solid committee, would be a huge look up in camp.
The receivers are also questionable, other than Westbrook, which is another issue holding back the development of Legow at QB.
Finding new starters that are missing on the line will be a huge task as well, as finding any consistency may very well start there.
The PK position is back in the hands of Griffin Oakes, but he only converted on 16/26 FG attempts last season, and finding someone to push him may be a good thing.
What To Be Excited About Defense
Allen was in charge of this unit, and now he is in charge of the football team. Will his guys respond to this move this fall?
Three members of the line will return in Greg Gooch, Nate Hoff, and Jacob Robinson will all return. These three players combined for 14.5 TFLs last fall, and Nile Sykes also returns after finishing with seven TFLs of his own. Mike Barwick, Jr. and Robert McCray III will both return to add some depth as well.
Tegray Scales likely should have left for the NFL at LB after last season, as he led the team with 23 TFLs at LB. Instead, he returns, and will be the heart of this defensive unit. He finished with seven sacks, and led the team with 126 tackles overall.
Five DBs return who all had starting experience last fall. Marcelino Ball, Jonathon Crawford, Rashard Fant, Tony Fields, and A'Shon Riggins will all be back patrolling the secondary this season, and this unit may be the key to holding everything together. Ball finished with eight PBUs, Crawford with seven PBUs. Fant was among the national leaders with 17 PBUs on the year, and tied with Crawford for the team lead in INTs with three. Fields broke up seven passes, and Riggins knocked away nine passes. Indiana was one of the best teams in the nation when it came to breaking up passes.
Joseph Gedeon was solid last fall at Punter, and averaged 40.28 yards per punt, and will be back to try to improve.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Other than Scales, there is little coming back at LB in 2017. Marcus Oliver left after his junior season, leaving 96 tackles of productivity off of the grid. Chris Covington is the most experienced returning LB, and he finished with 29 tackles last season. This is by far the biggest concern for a defense that should be vastly improved over last season.
2017 Schedule: 8/31 Ohio State, 9/9 at Virginia, 9/16 FIU, 9/23 Georgia Southern, 9/30 at Penn State, 10/14 Michigan, 10/21 at Michigan State, 10/28 at Maryland, 11/4 Wisconsin, 11/11 at Illinois, 11/18 Rutgers, 11/25 at Purdue
The tables may very well turn this fall, as the defense could be far better than the offense. That may also be a very bad problem for Tom Allen to have in his first season as head coach. For me, the offense is just too loaded with issues for this team to go back to a bowl game this fall. The schedule is another problem, as the reality starts right away with a home game with Ohio State. The Hoosiers also play Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which will likely have Indiana losing four games in conference play right away. They could also lose, potentially, to Maryland, which would be a fifth loss in conference play. The chips are stacked highly against the Hoosiers, and it will be a major battle to get overt that mountain.