- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Schedule: Coach Bill Lynch and the Hoosiers open practice today at 4 p.m. ET.
What's new: The defense has a new look in terms of both personnel and alignment. Indiana is switching to the 3-4 set this year as it tries to spark a unit that has struggled for most of the last decade. The Hoosiers lose seven starters on defense, including linebacker Matt Mayberry, defensive end Jammie Kirlew and safety Austin Thomas. Mo Moriarity returns to Indiana as offensive line coach after a successful run in the state's high school circuit.
Sidelined: Indiana enters camp very healthy, although linebacker linebacker Ryan Phillis is out with a foot injury. Safety Mitchell Evans returns after missing spring ball with a hip injury, and wideout Damarlo Belcher is fine after battling a hamstring issue this spring.
Key battle: The Hoosiers lose a lot at linebacker and defensive back, and besides senior Tyler Replogle, there are few guarantees at those spots. Evans and converted receiver Matt Ernest are projected to start at strong safety and cornerback, but expect plenty of competition. Thomas and Leon Beckum will compete for time at inside linebacker. Indiana also must replace left tackle Rodger Saffold, a second-round draft pick in April. Andrew McDonald is the projected starter, with Josh Hager behind him.
New on the scene: The Hoosiers hope three junior college transfers can help their long-suffering defense. Cornerback Lenyatta Kiles and linebacker Jeff Thomas went through spring ball and should contribute right away at their positions. The most heralded of the three arrivals, Andre Kates, a one-time Florida commit, gets on the practice field today.
Time to shine: Running back Darius Willis has shown he can be a difference maker for Indiana, but he has got to stay healthy. After dealing with various injuries his first three seasons, Willis looks to spark the Hoosiers' rushing attack and add balance to what should be an excellent passing game.
Quotable: "What we've talked to our guys about is learning how to finish. When you go back and look at it, I really mean that. We were about 12 plays away from playing in a really good bowl game." -- head coach Bill Lynch