Indiana spring wrap

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
9:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Indiana Hoosiers
2008 overall record: 3-9

2008 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 8; Defense: 9; Special teams: 1

Top returners

QB Ben Chappell, LB Matt Mayberry, DE Jammie Kirlew, DE Greg Middleton, CB Ray Fisher, S Austin Thomas, P Chris Hagerup

Key losses

QB/WR Kellen Lewis, RB Marcus Thigpen, WR Andrew Means, DT Greg Brown, LB Geno Johnson, K Austin Starr

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Marcus Thigpen (631 yds)
Passing: Kellen Lewis (1,131 yds)
Receiving:
Andrew Means (450 yds)
Tackles:
Matt Mayberry* (89)
Sacks:
Jammie Kirlew* (10.5)
I
nterceptions: Austin Thomas* (2)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 3 Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 12 Western Michigan
Sept. 19 at Akron
Sept. 26 at Michigan
Oct. 3 Ohio State
Oct. 10 at Virginia
Oct. 17 Illinois
Oct. 24 at Northwestern
Oct. 31 at Iowa
Nov. 7 Wisconsin
Nov. 14 at Penn State
Nov. 21 Purdue

Spring answers

1. Going to Chappell -- Unlike a year ago, Indiana knows its starting quarterback coming out of spring ball. Junior Ben Chappell gets the nod and will take all the snaps after Kellen Lewis was dismissed from the team. Chappell said he felt more comfortable this spring with the starter's tag, and he has a big fan in head coach Bill Lynch.

2. Middleton re-emerges -- After taking a step back last fall, senior defensive end Greg Middleton rededicated himself during the offseason and hopes to regain his 2007 form. Middleton impressed the coaches in spring practice and recorded a sack and a pass breakup in the spring game. He could form the league's top pass-rushing tandem with Jammie Kirlew.

3. Off and running -- Indiana needs ball-carrying threats other than Lewis to develop, especially after losing top rusher Marcus Thigpen. The spring brought some encouraging signs, particularly from Trea Burgess and heralded redshirt freshman Darius Willis. The two combined for 172 rush yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

Fall questions

1. Defensive tackle -- The Hoosiers are extremely thin at defensive tackle and will remain so even after Deonte Mack returns from a hip injury. Several players switched positions to defensive tackle, and Indiana must begin to build depth at a position that usually requires a three- or four-man rotation.

2. Firing the pistol -- Indiana will operate almost exclusively in the pistol formation this fall. After working with the pistol during spring ball, the Hoosiers must work out the kinks and get their timing down before the Sept. 3 opener. The alignment should help the running game, especially if the offensive line continues to improve, but the timing and Chappell's footwork will be key. Lewis' dismissal leaves Indiana without a proven playmaker.

3. Secondary health -- Starting safeties Austin Thomas and Nick Polk were among the Indiana players who missed spring ball with injuries. Their recoveries and the continued development of cornerback Ray Fisher, a converted wide receiver, as well as safety Jerimy Finch and corners Richard Council, Chris Adkins and Donnell Jones will loom large as Indiana tries to fix the Big Ten's worst pass defense.

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