By Hank Duncan
Put on those candy-striped pants, order some wings, and make sure you’re free 7:30 pm Thursday evening because it’s time for some Hoosierball! What does that mean, you ask? Well, Hoosier football is the epitome of any college experience: excitement, tragedy, and some things that you just don’t understand. So, get ready for some late-night drama when Indiana faces off against Florida International.
Each game this season will consist of points, points, and more points. Yes, many and probably most of the time the majority of the points will be for the opposing team, but it is still run and gun no-huddle Hoosier football. For teams like Alabama, giving up 37.6 points each game might sound like some satanic punishment sent to them by Lucifer himself, but for Indiana, it’s just another Saturday. On the bright side, those same Hoosiers put up some points too. 36.5 points per game to be exact. So, as a fan, what can you expect from the Hoosiers for 2016? More points! Kevin Wilson’s defensive savvy might not be the best, but nobody can question his offensive brain. Even with quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard in the NFL, there is no doubt that this Hoosierball will still be in full effect come Thursday. However, there are questions with this year’s starters.
The loss of All-American offensive lineman Jason Spriggs definitely hurts. He and another All-American Dan Feeney single-handedly bulldozed Michigan’s defensive line last season when IU ran the ball the last 18 plays of the game. 18 runs in a row! Harbaugh and his khakis knew what IU was going to do every play, but the Hoosier’s OL put them in their place. That is, until the last play of the game when Kevin WIlson deviated from his formula and decided to pass it on 4th and goal from the 2 yard line. We don’t need to get into anymore of what happened. But the fact is that Spriggs and Feeney were great together and now, with Spriggs gone, I don’t know if Feeney can do it all by himself. However, with most of the receiving corps returning and JUCO transfer quarterback Richie Lagow to run the offense, I am sure there will still be plenty of points to be had with IU football.
IU Offensive Depth Chart
|QB||21||Richard Lagow (Jr)||18||Danny Cameron (So)|
|RB||34||Devine Redding (Jr)||2||Devonte WIlliams (Fr)|
|WR||4||Ricky Jones (Sr)||82||Luke Timian (So)|
|WR||1||Simmie Cobbs (Jr)||15||Nick Westbrook (So)|
|WR||87||Mitchell Paige (Sr)||13||Isaac James (Fr)|
|TE||84||Danny Friend (Jr)||81||Jordan Fuchs (Jr)|
|LT||62||Brandon Knight (So)||54||Coy Cronk (Fr)|
|LG||76||Wes Martin (So)||70||Jacob Bailey (Sr)|
|C||65||Wes Rogers (Sr)||72||Simon Stepaniak (Fr)|
|RG||67||Dan Feeney (Sr)||52||DaVondre Love (Fr)|
|RT||77||Dimitric Camiel (Sr)||71||Delroy Baker (So)|
Now, for most Indiana football fans, the analysis stops here. Some might say that there is an entirely other half of the game. Those people would be right, but for us Hoosiers, we prefer to stick to what we weren’t 120th out of 127th in. Yes, that’s right folks, I’m talking about defense. Were the Hoosiers 116th in scoring defense last year? Yes. Did they allow 48 trips to the red zone that resulted in 30 touchdowns? Yes. Did IU allow a 42.1% 3rd down conversion rate? Yes. To top it off, the Hoosiers gave up the 8th most first downs and the 2nd most passing yards in the entire country. That is not a recipe for success.
Most of you probably have no hope for the defense after reading about those truly atrocious statistics from last season. But there is a bright side! Kevin Wilson fired his defensive coordinator from last year, Brian Knorr, and hired Tom Allen from University of South Florida. As coordinator for USF, Allen employed a 4-2-5 defensive scheme to neutralize spread attacks. He also led USF to a 46th national ranking in total defense, a number 13 ranking in tackles for loss, and gave up only 19.6 points per game. No, this does not mean that Indiana will suddenly be holding Ohio State to only a few points per game. However, it might mean improvement, especially from a place where there is nowhere to go but up. Of course IU’s secondary is still weak and the passing defense will still inevitably suffer. But overall, it looks like it will be an improved year from the Hoosier defense.
IU Defensive Depth Chart
|LDE||49||Greg Gooch (Jr)||35||Nile Sykes (So)|
|DT||74||Nate Hoff (Jr)||54||Ja’Merez Bowen (So)|
|NT||93||Raphael Green III (Sr)||58||Patrick Dougherty (Jr)|
|DE||91||Jacob Robinson (So)||95||Brandon Wilson (Fr)|
|SLB||44||Marcus Oliver (Jr)||2||T.J. Simmons (Sr)|
|MLB||8||Tegray Scales (Jr)||29||Dawson Fletcher (Sr)|
|HUSKY||18||Ben Bach (Jr)||6||Zeke Walker (Fr)|
|LCB||16||Rashard Fant (Jr)||21||Leon Thornton III (So)|
|SS||9||Jonathan Crawford (So)||20||Jameel Cook Jr. (So)|
|FS||30||Chase Dutra (Jr)||19||Tony Fields (Jr)|
|RCB||14||Andre Brown Jr. (So)||3||Tyler Green (So)|
Lastly, I can’t forget about the special teams! There are two players who are noteworthy in my book. First is place kicker Griffin Oakes, who won the Big Ten Kicker of Year Award and can also boot a 60-yard field goal in practice. The other player might be the most underrated athlete on the entire team; punter Joseph Gedeon. He is indeed a punter, but he can also run a 4.4 40 yard dash, so be ready for some more classic Kevin Wilson fake punts this year.
All in all, it will be another great season of Indiana University football. Even if the Hoosiers fall short in some games, there is always a guarantee that there will be plenty of points for both sides. Get ready for some Hoosierball!