We're handing out grades for each Big Ten team's performance in the regular season, judging each squad's offense, defense, special teams and overall performance. Up next in the grading line: the Indiana Hoosiers
There was a lot to like about Indiana's offense in 2012, as the Hoosiers evolved into a prolific passing team in coach Kevin Wilson's second year, which was the first under coordinator Seth Littrell. Despite losing starting quarterback Tre Roberson to a broken leg in the second week of the season, Indiana still led the Big Ten and finished 18th nationally in passing yards per game (311.2) while splitting snaps between juco transfer Cameron Coffman and true freshman Nate Sudfeld. They boasted one of the Big Ten's most explosive receiver groups with Shane Wynn, Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes, plus tight end Ted Bolser. While the running game wasn't dominant, Stephen Houston put up 749 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns to keep defenses honest. The Hoosiers scored 24 or more points in each of their first nine games and averaged 30.8 for the season. IU could get a little better running the ball and improve its overall efficiency, but the offense did more than enough to win games in 2012.
The Hoosiers had nowhere to go but up after a brutally bad defensive showing in 2011. Unfortunately, they didn't go up too far. Once again, Indiana ranked among the worst teams in the country in points allowed (35.3, only slightly better than the 2011 team's 37.3 ppg allowed), rushing defense (231.3 ypg, 12 yards better than '11) and pass-efficiency defense. In fact, Indiana gave up more yards per game in 2012 than it did in 2011 despite playing more veterans and getting good years on the defensive line from Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr. and linebacker David Cooper. The Hoosiers defense looked like it had made strides in midseason wins over Illinois and Iowa. But in its final three games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue, the defense surrendered 163 points.
Special teams: C
There was nothing particularly outstanding or glaringly weak on special teams for the Hoosiers, who ranked in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten in just about every kicking game category. IU did lead the league with three recovered onsides kicks, and freshman Tevin Coleman finished second in the conference in kickoff returns. Mitch Ewald made 15 of 20 field goals.
We're grading on a bit of a curve here, as Indiana made undeniable progress from its 1-11 disaster of 2011. The Hoosiers won two Big Ten games after going 0-8 in Wilson's first year and improbably found themselves in control of their destiny for a spot in the Big Ten title game in early November. Those dreams were quickly erased when Wisconsin came to Memorial Stadium and laid a 62-14 whooping on the home team. Indiana's finish was highly disappointing as it had a chance to get to a bowl game, but instead suffered three straight blowout losses to go 4-8. Late-game blown leads in setbacks to Ball State and Navy also left a sour taste. Wilson still has a whole lot of work to do to fix the defense but he is recruiting well on that side of the ball. This team brings just about everybody back next year, including Roberson, who will lead what should be one of the league's best offensive attacks. Getting to a bowl game will be the goal in 2013.
Previous report cards