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Indiana spring wrap

5/4/2011

Indiana

2010 overall record: 5-7

2010 conference record: 1-7 (11th)

Returning starters

Offense: 7; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

WR Damarlo Belcher, WR Duwyce Wilson, RB Darius Willis, T Andrew McDonald, G Justin Pagan, DE Darius Johnson, LB Jeff Thomas, S Donnell Jones, DT Adam Replogle, K Mitch Ewald

Key losses

QB Ben Chappell, WR Tandon Doss, OT James Brewer, WR Terrance Turner, LB Tyler Replogle, CB Richard Council, S Mitchell Evans

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Trea Burgess (352 yards)

Passing: Ben Chappell (3,295 yards)

Receiving: Damarlo Belcher* (832 yards)

Tackles: Tyler Replogle (87)

Sacks: Darius Johnson* (4.5)

Interceptions: Mitchell Evans (3)

Spring answers

1. Cup of Kofi: It wasn't a huge surprise, but Kofi Hughes really solidified himself as one of Indiana's top receivers this spring alongside Damarlo Belcher and Duwyce Wilson. Hughes, who recorded only seven receptions last season, made several big plays in scrimmages and became a favorite target of quarterbacks Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. Receiver will be Indiana's strong group this season, and Hughes adds to it.

2. LB tandem emerges: Indiana's defense needs significant upgrades, but the Hoosiers should have some pieces to build around at linebacker. Senior Jeff Thomas and Leon Beckum both drew favorable reviews from the staff this spring. Both players have grasped the new defense, and Thomas is more than willing to take a greater leadership role in the fall. The key now is for IU to find a third starter at linebacker.

3. Young DBs show promise: The Hoosiers' secondary has a long way to go, but several young players provide hope for the future. Greg Heban came on strong toward the end of last season, recording 40 tackles, an interception and five passes defended. He continued to show promise this spring. Cornerback Lawrence Barnett had an interception return for a touchdown and a pass breakup in the spring game. Both sophomores should play big roles this fall.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback: New Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson made it clear that starting jobs must be earned, and no quarterback earned the starting spot this spring. Kiel and Wright-Baker will continue to compete for the No. 1 job in preseason camp after mixed results in spring ball. During my visit to Bloomington, I got the sense Kiel has the edge, but this race could last until mid-to-late August.

2. Running back: This might be Indiana's biggest question mark entering the fall, as lingering injuries limited the group in spring practice. Darius Willis, Antonio Banks and Xavier Whitaker all are coming off season-ending knee injuries, and none has been evaluated on the field by the new staff. Willis boasts the most experience but also the most injury problems. Matt Perez and Nick Turner participated in spring ball and will be in the mix.

3. Grasping the systems: Wilson really made the spring about attitude and understanding the new demands from the staff. At times, he'd call the same play over and over just to see who stepped up and who caved in. The next few months will be critical as Hoosiers players start to grasp the schematics on both sides of the ball. This might be a bigger challenge on offense, as Wilson likes to play extremely fast, but the defense also needs a lot of work after struggling for so many years.