Friday, May 3, 2013
Indiana Hoosiers spring wrap
By Brian Bennett
2012 record: 4-8
2012 conference record: 2-6 (fifth in Leaders Division)
Returning starters: Offense: 10; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 2
QB Tre Roberson, QB Cameron Coffman, QB Nate Sudfeld, WR Kofi Hughes, WR Shane Wynn, WR Cody Latimer, TE Ted Bolser, LB David Cooper, S Greg Heban, RB Stephen Houston
C Will Matte, DT Adam Replogle, DT Larry Black Jr.
2012 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Stephen Houston* (749 yards)
Passing: Cameron Coffman* (2,734 yards)
Receiving: Cody Latimer* (805 yards)
Tackles: Greg Heban* (91)
Sacks: Adam Replogle (5)
Interceptions: Heban (3)
1. Offensive depth: No Big Ten team returns as much offensive production as the Hoosiers, who bring back every key skill position player from 2012. They have three quarterbacks who played significant time last year, plus arguably the best corps of pass-catchers in Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn and tight end Ted Bolser. Indiana seemed to find more contributors this spring, as Tevin Coleman pushed Stephen Houston at running back, Isaiah Roundtree thrived at slot receiver and wideout Ricky Jones came back from injury. This is an offense capable of being one of the very best in the Big Ten.
2. Let's get physical: Head coach Kevin Wilson stressed toughness and physicality all spring, even using the beginning part of practices for a "Big Ten period" where his offense lined up in more traditional power sets. The goal was to better prepare the defense to face those types of Big Ten attacks and to instill a physical mindset in his own running game. How well it worked won't be determined until the fall, but the approach should help the Hoosiers hold up better in the trenches.
3. Rahrig to go: The one semi-question mark on the offensive line was at center, where longtime starter Will Matte departed. But Collin Rahrig filled in ably this spring, suggesting a smooth transition. With promising rising sophomores Dan Feeney and Jason Spriggs getting a full offseason in the weight room, the offensive line could be a strength for Indiana this season.
1. Quarterback derby: Wilson went to great lengths this spring not to play favorites with his three quarterbacks, so much so that he didn't want to send just one out first for the spring game. But at some point, he'll have to choose between Tre Roberson, Nate Sudfeld and Cameron Coffman. Roberson needs to continue to get better as a passer, while Sudfeld and Coffman need to improve their mobility. Wilson is hoping one of them separates himself in fall camp. Ideally, he could redshirt Sudfeld or Coffman, but he could also risk losing one to transfer.
2. Defensive improvement: Indiana has ranked last in the Big Ten in defense in the last two years under Wilson, and that trend has to change if the Hoosiers want to get to a bowl game. The team only lost three senior starters from last year, but two were defensive tackles so there are questions up front. Several incoming recruits are expected to challenge for starting jobs right away on defense, which tells you both about the talent in that recruiting class and the need on the current roster.
3. Running the ball: Indiana led the Big Ten in passing offense last year but had a so-so running game. Leading returning ball carrier Stephen Houston has a knack for finding the end zone, yet he rushed for more than 50 fewer yards as a junior than he did as a sophomore. Indiana could get some more out of its quarterback run game this year but needs to be able to line up and run for crucial yards, especially in the red zone. A lot of that is on the guys blocking, too. "We will be a better offense when our offensive line and tight ends are tougher, and we run the ball," Wilson said.