2010 CFBZ Prediction: 10th Place in Big Ten
2010 Actual Finish: 11th Place (5-7, 1-7)
In 2007 the Indiana Hoosiers finished 7-6 and went to a bowl game. Since then they have endured 3 straight losing seasons.
In 2010 Indiana started off 4-2 but then lost 5 straight on their way to a 5-7 season. The Hoosiers have plucked Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson to lead them into the 2011/2012 season. We caught up with John from the SB Nation Indiana Hoosiers blog Crimson Quarry to find out some answers about the Hoosiers 2010 season and to get a quick glimpse into the future of the progam.
In our Pre-Season Preview you said that going to a bowl game would make this a successful season for Indiana. Indiana went 5-7 after starting 4-2. How do you feel now that the season is over?
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Sure, the turning point was when we stopped playing cupcakes and started playing Big Ten teams. I'm kidding, somewhat. Unfortunately, the 2009 and 2010 seasons both were characterized by being competitive but unable to finish. By my count, IU was "in" eleven of its 16 Big Ten games over the last two seasons, but managed only two wins. IU's defense was the bigger problem, but it seemed than in games in which the defense was decent, the offense struggled.
Indiana has brought in Oklahoma OC Kevin Wilson to be the head man. What are you looking forward to most about his tenure and what will be his biggest challenges?
It's always a bit of a gamble to hire someone who hasn't been a head coach before, but I love Wilson's pedigree. He has spent the last nine seasons working for Bob Stoops, someone I consider to be the best coach of his generation. Before that, he worked for Randy Walker at Northwestern and Miami of Ohio, which means he has ties to the Midwest and has experience working with less than blue chip talent. My hope is that his teams will be more fundamentally sound, more aggressive, and that he and his staff will make sound decisions in close games.
His challenges will be the challenges that any IU coach would face: a losing history, less than overwhelming fan support, a limited natural recruiting territory, and a tough conference. I am encouraged that IU's facilities and talent level are better than for any other coaching transition at IU in recent memory, but it's still a tough job.
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Which player(s) was the biggest surprise of the season and on the flipside who was the biggest disappointment?
The biggest surprise, although not necessarily a shock, was Juco linebacker Jeff Thomas, who finished second on the team in tackles and had two interceptions, including a crucial pick in overtime in the win against Purdue.
The biggest disappointment was Darius Willis. That has nothing to do with his play, but with the fact that he missed IU's final eight games with an injury. He has missed over half of the games in his first two years, and must find a way to stay on the field.
Who are some of the guys that need to step up next year to become major players for the Hoosiers?
IU returns quite a few starters on both sides of the ball, but the glaring exception is at quarterback. Ben Chappell started every game the last two seasons, and none of IU's current quarterbacks have started a college game. It is likely that next year's starter will be either Edward Wright-Baker or Dusty Kiel, who shared the backup position in 2010. It's also possible that incoming freshman Tre Roberson, Indiana's Mr. Football, may be in the mix, although that's a tall order for someone coming right from high school. All three guys are good runners, so it seems likely that IU's 2011 starter will be a dual threat.
What area does your team need to improve on the most this off-season?
It's hard to speak in terms of improvement when a new staff is coming to town with its own strengths, weaknesses, and emphases. With an offensive-minded coach in Wilson and with good talent returning on offense, I do think IU will score plenty of points, so I would say that the key is being good enough on defense, which has been a major problem for IU for years.