2010 Record: (5-7, 1-7 in Big 10)
Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (First Time Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2007 Insight Bowl (lost to Oklahoma St 49-33)
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9/3: Ball St
9/17: South Carolina State
9/24: at North Texas
10/1: Penn State (2010 result: lost 41-24)
10/8: Illinois (2010 result: lost 43-13)
10/15: at Wisconsin (2010 result: lost 83-20)
10/22: at Iowa (2010 result: lost 18-13)
10/29: Northwestern (2010 result: lost 20-17)
11/5: at Ohio State (2010 result: lost 38-10)
11/19: at Michigan State
11/26: Purdue (2010 result: win 34-31 OT)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 27.2 ppg (7th in Big Ten, 56th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 100.33 yds/game (last in Big Ten, 112th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 287.2 yds/game (1st in Big Ten, 14th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 387.5 yds/game (7th in Big Ten, 54th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 34.0 ppg (10th in Big Ten, 102nd in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 171.83 yds/game (8th in Big Ten, 80th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 238.3 yds/game (9th in Big Ten, 93rd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 410.2 yds/game (9th in Big Ten, 90th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -0.58 per game (10th in Big Ten, 101st in Nation)
Penalties: 40.5 yds/game (4th in Big Ten, 10th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Edward Wright-Baker, Soph (5 of 12 for 80 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT)
Rushing: RB Darius Willis, Jr (64 for 278 yds, 4 TD)
Receiving: WR Damarlo Belcher, Sr (78 rec for 832 yds, 4 TD)
Tackles: LB Jeff Thomas, Sr (81)
Sacks: DE Darius Johnson, Sr (4.5)
Interceptions: LB Jeff Thomas, Sr (2)
In his final three years at Indiana, Bill Lynch only managed to win one conference game each year. This year it will be former Oklahoma OC Kevin Wilson that gets his shot to coach the Hoosiers. Wilson will have his work cut out for him as he must replace the QB, Ben Chappell, that led the Hoosiers to the most passing yards in the Big Ten last season. Wilson inherits a defense that was 10th in the league in points allowed and 9th in the league in yardage allowed. The schedule sets up nicely for the Hoosiers to get off to a quick start as three of their first four games are against non-Automatic Qualifier teams. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Wilson can have on Indiana in his first season. We reached out to the Indiana based blog Hoosier State of Mind to get their take on the upcoming 2011 season.
Now that Kevin Wilson has been on campus for a few months, what are your overall impressions of him?
Wilson brings a new perspective to Indiana Football and has a 'we won't accept losing' attitude, which is something that the Hoosier program desperately needs. While many coaches in his shoes would be attempting to manage expectations in their first year on the job with a team that's struggled in the past, he's made it a point to raise expectations in both the fan base and the program itself. Coach Wilson has put together a top-flight coaching staff that knows how to win at the highest level and is saying all the right things to the media. He's not a guy who is going to accept mediocrity, and if you're not going to give him the best effort that you can, you're not going to play. Coach Wilson has made a habit of not showing his cards regarding offensive and defensive schemes, but following the work he's done at Oklahoma and Northwestern, that's the least of our worries.
Ben Chappell put up over 3,000 yards passing and 24 TD last year. Who is going to replace him?
It's difficult to replace a guy like Chappell who the entire offense was based around last year due to the lack of a serious option in the run game. There is talent at the QB spot, but it is inexperienced talent. This is going to be a QB battle that might last until the first game against Ball State this fall.
While Junior Adam Follett could figure in to the race, the battle will likely come down to who out of Redshirt Sophomores Ed Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel can separate themselves during summer ball. While both are QBs with strong arms who can run when called upon, the offense seemed to run faster and smoother under Kiel (speed being a major factor of the Kevin Wilson system) yet Ed showed the ability to improvise under pressure. I have a strong feeling that Kiel will win the job for the fall, but the coaching staff has kept such a tight lid over everything that very little would surprise me in this race.
Indiana gave up 34 points per game last year. Who needs to step up on defense this year?
Easy answer would be to say everyone needs to step up. However, Indiana had some major issues with the pass rush and defensive secondary this past year that may have been due partially to scheme.
At the outset of last year, Indiana switched to a sort of hybrid 3-4 that was both and neither at the same time, asking guys on the D-Line that had explosiveness as their best attribute to put on a good amount of weight, thus losing what made them good players in the first place. The D-Line has slimmed down, and there's a good amount of talent there, particularly at the DT spot where Larry Black Jr, Adam Replogle, and Nick Sliger and Mick Mentzer all return. At DE, we'll need a couple of guys to step up, but I think that the line will be a position of strength this year.
Corners and Safeties will benefit from the change in scheme. In the past, opposing QBs talked about our system being "too predictable", often being able to nickel and dime us down the field. Cover guys like Lawrence Barnett and underrated Cornerback/Safety Greg Heban will perform much better in the new system.
Will Indiana have an elite Defense next year? It's not likely. However, it's very possible that Indiana is able to improve the defense to the point where the offense can outscore some teams, and that's when IU will turn the corner. Indiana will have to find someone to step up at defensive end that will be able to pressure opposing QB’s which would also take some pressure off of our secondary.
Who are some newcomers that you think can come in and help the Hoosiers immediately?
As Bill Lynch made it a habit to Redshirt just about everyone, it's likely that several of the talented RS Frosh see some time this year.
There was high praise for LB Chase Hoobler's play in practice last fall, enough that there were thoughts of taking him off redshirt. With Tyler Replogle graduating the Hoosier’s will have to find a younger guy to step up and fill the void and complement likely returning starters Jeff Thomas and Leon Beckum.
RB Matt Perez is tough. He doesn't have top-level high end speed, but he follows his blocks well and finds ways to pop through a hole with nice cutting ability and good speed out of breaks. While RB Darius Willis has shown a great amount of potential, he has made a home for himself on the Injured List, so if Willis isn't ready to go, look for Perez to take some carries this fall.
Indiana needs help all over the Defense. It's likely that talented incoming Frosh DE Jake Reed sees some time in a rotation to help improve the Hoosier pass rush. Reed has a very high motor and ability to come off the edge quickly which is something the Hoosiers need to improve upon. DB Flo Hardin also may see some time as he comes in with a Big Ten-ready body and shows nice skill in coverage. IU also could use some help with O-Line depth, and True Frosh Ralston Evans could figure in to the conversation there as he joined the team for Spring Practice and impressed.
Also look for WR Shane Wynn to see some time on Special Teams, even if he doesn't get much time in the slot. Wynn is a jitterbug 5'6 WR who has great elusiveness and speed.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
For a team trying to build confidence and raise expectations of the program, the early games are going to be significant in building a team identity. The Virginia home game on September 2nd figures to be an important match up as it is Coach Wilson's first test against a BCS Conference opponent. Hoosier fans hope that Coach Wilson can use that game to set the tone for a strong season, as well as many to come.
After the absolute drubbing that the Hoosiers took last year, the Wisconsin game this year will be a big one. While it has been tough recently for the Hoosiers to win in Madison, Indiana must make a strong showing here to indicate that things will be different during the Wilson era. It also marks the beginning of the brutal second half of the schedule, where IU faces off against Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan State, all on the road.
Purdue is the biggest game of the year every year, and it's very possible that the Hoosiers need that one to lock up a bowl bid. If IU goes in with momentum after the Michigan State road game, look for an electric crowd at Memorial Stadium for that one.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
Because of how difficult the schedule is, I think that this team could improve significantly and still only win 6 games. The Big Ten schedule isn't kind to the Hoosiers with Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan State all on the road, along with a tough home test against Penn State early on the Big Ten calendar. Indiana should beat Ball State in Indy, North Texas on the road (although that's a potential trap game with the Mean Green playing in their new stadium), and South Carolina State at home, taking the dock up to 3 likely wins. I think that IU knocks off Virginia, Purdue, and Northwestern to get up to 6 wins. IU could also beat Illinois and has a chance against some of the upper echelon teams in the conference, but I'll put the range at 6-7 wins for this Hoosier squad.
IU has been very close to some big wins in the past few years with a couple Michigan games coming down to the wire, two heart breakers against Iowa, and a late field goal that took the Northwestern game away this past year. Each of these games came down to an inability of the Hoosier squad to compete in the 4th quarter. If IU plays a consistent four quarters in each game this year, it's possible that they knock off a couple teams they shouldn't. I think that a bowl season this year with a win over Purdue would have to be considered a success. Anything more than that, and it's possible that IU Football turns the corner.
Next Preview: Tulane
Coming in August: Big Ten Preview
Coming in August: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown
2011 Team Previews