High-flying offense, improvement on defense crucial in bid for 2nd bowl since 1993
The seventh installment of a series ranking Iowa’s 12 opponents for the 2014 season: No. 6 Indiana
Conference: Big Ten, East Division
2013 record: 5-7 (3-5 Leaders Division)
Returning offensive starters (8): QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Tevin Coleman, WR Shane Wynn, T Jason Spriggs, T Ralston Evans, G David Kaminski G Bernard Taylor, C Collin Rahrig
Projected starting offense: QB Nate Sudfeld, jr., 6-5, 232; RB Tevin Coleman, jr., 6-1, 210; WR Shane Wynn, sr., 5-7, 167; WR Nick Stoner, sr., 6-1, 190; WR Isaiah Roundtree, sr., 5-11, 200; TE Danny Friend, so., 6-5, 255 OR Anthony Corsaro, jr., 6-1, 250; LT Jason Spriggs, jr., 6-7, 307; LG Bernard Taylor, sr., 6-2, 307; C Collin Rahrig, sr., 6-2, 290; RG Dan Feeney, so., 6-4, 305 OR David Kaminski, jr., 6-4, 305; RT Peyton Eckert, jr., 6-6, 305 OR Ralston Evans, jr., 6-4, 294
Returning defensive starters (9): DE Nick Mangieri, DT Bobby Richardson, DT Ralph Green III, SLB David Cooper, MLB T.J. Simmons, WLB Flo Hardin, CB Tim Bennett, CB Michael Hunter, S Mark Murphy
Projected starting defense: DE Nick Mangieri, jr., 6-5, 255; DL Adarius Rayner, jr., 6-2, 309; DL Ralph Green III, so., 6-5, 325; DL Bobby Richardson, sr., 6-3, 288; MLB T.J. Simmons, so., 6-0, 228; WLB David Cooper, sr., 6-1, 237; SLB Flo Hardin, sr., 6-1, 230 OR Clyde Newton, so., 6-1, 230; S Mark Murphy, sr., 6-2, 210; S Antonio Allen, so., 5-10, 205; CB Tim Bennett sr., 5-9, 186; CB Michael Hunter, jr., 6-1, 194
Returning specialists (3): P Erich Toth, jr., 6-3, 206; LS Matt Dooley, sr., 6-4, 245; KR/PR Shane Wynn, sr., 5-7, 167
Other specialists: K Aaron Del Grosso, fr., 5-10, 195 OR Griffin Oakes, fr., 5-10, 201
Key losses: WR Cody Latimer, WR Kofi Hughes, TE Ted Bolser, QB Cam Coffman, RB Stephen Houston, S Greg Heban, DE Ryan Phillis, K Mitch Ewald (Update: QB Tre Roberson announced June 11 he plans to transfer)
Key additions: OL DeAndre Herron, jr., 6-5, 330 (Iowa Western CC/Avon, Ind.); OL Delroy Baker, fr., 6-6, 290 (Ocala, Fla.); Dominque Booth, fr., 6-1, 200 (Indianapolis); QB Zander Diamont, fr., 6-1, 175 (Los Angeles), TE Jordan Fuchs, fr., 6-3, 230 (Queens, N.Y.); OL Tim Gardner, fr., 6-5, 320 (Indianapolis)
2013 review: There’s no way around it: Indiana had a disappointing season. The Hoosiers were predicted to become the league’s surprise team by a panel of sports writers before the season, yet posted a 5-7 record. The Hoosiers’ wins were decisive, yet they failed to win games that could have vaulted them to a bowl game.
The Hoosiers’ margin-of-victory was 25.4 points with the closest win a 44-24 triumph over Penn State. It was the school’s first victory against the Nittany Lions in 17 tries. But the close games where Indiana had opportunities — Navy, Michigan, Minnesota — it failed to close out. The primary reason? Defense. Indiana gave up an average of 527.9 yards (third-most among 125 FBS schools) and 38.8 points (115th overall). The Hoosiers allowed at least 36 points in seven Big Ten games and a conference-record 560.2 yards per game. That was a year after surrendering 514.8 yards a game. Obviously, those numbers cost defensive coordinator Doug Mallory his job.
Indiana did average 508.5 yards and 38.4 points on offense, ranking second among Big Ten schools in both categories. The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in passing offense with 306.7 yards. But even when Indiana got into a shootout, such as against Michigan, it couldn’t keep up because of its defense. Indiana threw for 405 yards and scored 47 points at Michigan, but was shredded for 751 total yards — including a conference record 369 receiving yards by Jeremy Gallon — and 63 points. The Hoosiers trailed Minnesota 35-13 with 21 minutes left, rallied to take the lead but gave up a 50-yard TD pass with 3 minutes left. Indiana had one last chance but fumbled with the ball inside the 10 with 14 seconds remaining. A win in either game would have netted Indiana a bowl berth.
2014 schedule: A30 Indiana State; S13 at Bowling Green; S20 at Missouri; S27 Maryland; O4 North Texas; O11 at Iowa; O18 Michigan State; N1 at Michigan; N8 Penn State; N15 at Rutgers; N22 at Ohio State; N29 Purdue
Key Stretch: Indiana’s first five games will provide an indication of its chances for a bowl berth. After playing in-state FCS squad Indiana State, the Hoosiers face four 2013 bowl teams — including two on the road. Bowling Green (Sept. 13) and North Texas (Oct. 4) were impressive mid-major squads a year ago. Indiana plays host to Maryland’s first Big Ten game on Sept. 27. The Hoosiers also face a tough road game at SEC East champion Missouri (Sept. 20). A winning record in those four games (coupled with an season-opening victory) likely has Indiana thinking about a bowl as it approaches the meat of its schedule.
Trap game: Indiana faces new Big Ten opponent Rutgers for the first time on Nov. 15. It’s a road trip sandwiched after four consecutive games against power programs and a week before a jaunt to league favorite Ohio State. Rutgers did qualify for a bowl game last year and its inaugural Big Ten season opens with five consecutive monsters — Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Rutgers returns nine offensive starters — including all five along the line — and will look at Indiana as a possible win. The Scarlet Knights also get two weeks to prepare for Indiana’s offense.
Glass half-full: Indiana’s offense continues to ravage opponents while its defense finally catches up. A 5-2 start (or even 6-1 opening with an upset at either Missouri or Iowa) would give the Hoosiers confidence entering a showdown with Michigan State. Indiana’s offense has caused the Spartans issues in their last two meetings. November games against Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers and Purdue doesn’t seem quite as daunting after the surprising start. The Hoosiers then coast to their first bowl game since 2007 and only second since 1993.
Glass half-empty: The big ‘If’ at Indiana (as previously detailed) is defense. The Hoosiers lost just two starters from last year’s unit, but it was historically bad. The Hoosiers play nine bowl teams from a year ago. Two of their non-bowl opponents are from their own state (Indiana State, Purdue) and the other is Penn State, which was ineligible. If Indiana doesn’t improve defensively, once again it loses winnable games. If Indiana fails to earn a bowl bid this year, questions really will start to flare up about Coach Kevin Wilson’s future.
The Iowa angle: On Oct. 11, the programs will meet for the 75th time since 1912. They’ve had interesting moments over the years, especially in the last decade. Iowa leads the all-time series 42-28-4 but is only 4-3 over the last seven. In 2006, former Indiana Coach Terry Hoeppner engineered a 31-28 upset of ranked Iowa, a victory that helped spur a mini-awakening of Hoosier football. Sadly, Hoeppner died before the next season after battling a brain tumor.
In 2007, Indiana drubbed Iowa for nine sacks in a 38-20 win at Kinnick. It was Iowa’s worst home loss to Indiana since 1952. Then Iowa won four straight in the series. The 2008 blowout spurred the Hawkeyes to a 6-1 finish. The Hawkeyes rallied from a 14-point deficit in 2009 with 28 fourth-quarter points to win 42-24. In 2010, Indiana WR DeMarlo Belcher dropped a touchdown pass in the final seconds to prevent Indiana from upsetting Iowa in an 18-13 Hawkeye win. Iowa battered Indiana 45-24 in 2011. The teams’ most recent meeting (2012) was eye-opening for Iowa’s offensive struggles in a 24-21 loss. The Hawkeyes built a 14-0 lead and scored on a defensive touchdown, but the defensively challenged Hoosiers stifled the lackluster Hawkeyes throughout the second half.
Former Iowa defensive end Bill Ennis-Inge is the team’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Rivals named Ennis-Inge as one of the Big Ten’s 10 best recruiters.
Quotable: “I’ve been very impressed with our defense. They have for sure held their own on a daily basis against their own and in some cases have even been better than our offense. ... I don’t think we have the talent to play a bend-but-don’t-break (defense) and expect to win. But I also don’t think we can be just full speed ahead and just throw the kitchen sink out there and hope it works. I think there’s got to be a balance.” — Indiana Coach Kevin Wilson
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