Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Midseason report: Indiana
By Adam Rittenberg
Record: 2-4 (0-3 Big Ten)
The good news: this Indiana season looks a lot more like 2009 than 2011. The bad news: the 2009 Hoosiers couldn't get over the hump, and the 2012 version has the same problem.
If there's a 2-4 team in the FBS that shouldn't hang its head, it's Indiana. After a 1-11 season in 2011 that featured few competitive losses, the Hoosiers have found themselves in every game this season. They dominated Michigan State for a half. They put up 49 points against Ohio State. They cut a 27-0 deficit at Northwestern to a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. They erased a 13-point Ball State lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, only to lose on a last-second field goal.
Indiana is certainly making progress under second-year coach Kevin Wilson. Despite losing top quarterback Tre Roberson to a season-ending broken leg in Week 2, the Hoosiers have continued to rack up points and yards. Reserve quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld both are showing potential, and Indiana boasts some of the league's most dynamic set of receivers in Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes and Shane Wynn, not to mention a solid running back in Stephen Houston. Indiana leads the Big Ten in passing (313 ypg) and ranks second in total offense (473 ypg).
The problem is the Hoosiers have been here before: big offense, good quarterbacks, great receivers, no defense, a bunch of moral victories. The defense continues to hold back the program, ranking 103rd nationally in yards allowed and 92nd in points allowed. It's still far too easy to run the ball against Indiana and find gaping holes in the defense. The overall athleticism seems to be improving, but the cohesion, depth and ability to avoid breakdowns still isn't there.
The good news is Indiana's second-half schedule provides some opportunities for wins. If the Hoosiers can get over the hump the next two weeks against Navy and Illinois, they could make some noise down the stretch.
Offensive MVPs: QBs Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld. Wilson says little separates the two signal callers in practice, so we're linking them here as well. The offense hasn't slowed down at all despite Roberson's injury, and both Coffman and Sudfeld are showing they can make plays against Big Ten defenses. Coffman has been the starter and boasts the better numbers (108-for-172 passing, 1,076 yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT), while Sudfeld has entered games late and helped rally Indiana against Ball State, Northwestern and Ohio State. The freshman has completed 31 of 50 passes for 434 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Defensive MVP: DT Adam Replogle. There's no obvious choice on a struggling unit, but Replogle has had a good start to his final season in Bloomington. It's not often that a defensive tackle leads the team in, well, tackles, but Replogle tops Indiana's chart with 41 stops in the first six games. He leads all Big Ten defensive linemen in tackles per game (6.8). Replogle also leads Indiana in both tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (3.5) to go along with a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Cornerback Greg Heban (6 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss) merits a mention.