Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.
2009 final record (overall, conference): 4-8, 1-7
Bowl Game: None
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 11th Big Ten Conference
Offensive rank: 72
Defensive rank: 88
2009 Individual Statistical Leaders
Rushing: Darius Willis, 607 yards, 6 TD
Passing: JBen Chappell, 2,941 yards, 17 TD, 15 INT
Receiving: Tandon Doss, 962 yards, 5 TD; Damarlo Belcher, 770 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Matt Mayberry, 108 total tackles
Sacks: Jammie Kirlew, 6.5 sacks (6 solo, 1 assisted); Matt Mayberry, 5.5 sacks (5 solo, 1 assisted)
Interceptions: Austin Thomas, 4 interceptions
2010 Season Outlook
October 2 vs. Michigan: While the Hoosiers are unlikely to make any noise in the conference this season, they could very well start 4-0 if they're able to get by the Wolverines for the first time in years. With tough matchups in the conference, an early win over a Michigan team that has struggled recently would be nice to move one step closer to six wins.
October 23 @ Illinois: The Fighting Illini present one of the more winnable in-conference matchups for the Hoosiers. With four non-conference games that should go in the win column, Indiana will still need to grab two conference games. Illinois is a good opportunity to do that.
October 30 vs. Northwestern:
November 27 @ Purdue: If Indiana can take home the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2007, they could clinch bowl eligibility in this one. Purdue holds a commanding series lead at 56-26-3 and the Hoosiers grabbed just two wins last decade.
Coaches': Not Ranked
Rodger Saffold, OT; Jammie Kirlew, DE; Greg Middleton, DE; Matt Mayberry, LB; Will Patterson, LB; Ray Fisher, CB; Austin Thomas, S; Nick Polk, S
Key Returning Players
Ben Chappell, QB; Darius Willis, RB; Tandon Doss, WR; Damarlo Belcher, WR; Terrance Turner, WR; James Brewer, OT; Larry Black, DT; Tyler Replogle, LB
There's no question that quarterback Ben Chappell will return as the starter in 2010. He excelled last season with 2,941 yards and 17 touchdowns, but needs to cut back on his interceptions. He threw 15 in 2009, eight of those coming in the final four-game stretch. He'll likely see his attempts and other stats increase with an offense seemingly ready to embrace their identity as a pass-first team. If he can limit turnovers he could emerge as one of the conference's more underrated arms in his senior season.
Chappell will have plenty of options in the passing game, and he's pretty good at spreading the ball around to avoid predictability. Tandon Doss, Demarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner, last year's top three receivers, each return for 2010 and makeup what should be a high-flying offense. Doss and Turner are 6'3 with Belcher at 6'5, making this a big bunch of receivers that will create mismatches with smaller defensive backs. Tyler Adetona, Jamonne Chester and Duwyce Wilson, all of whom are 6'1 or taller, will find time in the rotation. Max Demond, who hauled in 18 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in 2009, returns at tight end.
Up front, the Hoosiers need to replace Rodger Saffold at left tackle. In his place will be Andrew McDonald, a big 6'6, 304 pounds tackle who saw action as a reserve the past two seasons. James Brewer, at 6'8 and 335 pounds, stepped up last season and returns as a key on the line. Will Matte will start at center with Justin Pagan and Cody Faulkner at the guard spots. Darius Willis returns as the starter in the backfield, but with emphasis on the passing game, may not reach the 1,000 or so yards he's capable of accumulating. That's not to say he isn't an important cog on the offense. With defenses expected to give most of their attention to the passing game, Willis' success in the running game will be important for this team to change it up and open things up for the passing game.
The running game will see the return of Mikel LeShoure, who led the team with 734 yards and five touchdowns in 2010. He's a big back at 230 pounds who moves well with the ball. Jason Ford, last season's second leading rusher with 588 yards, will push LeShoure for time. Ford is another big back at 235 pounds who could be used in goal line situations and to give LeShoure a carry or two off throughout the game. LeShoure could emerge into one of the conference's top runners, but Ford is no slouch either and could step in if LeShoure struggles or is lost to injury. Scheelhaase will also see his fair share of rushing opportunities and the combination of LeShoure/Ford, a mobile quarterback and a very good run blocking line should make for some nice rushing numbers this season.
The Hoosiers don't exactly lose seven players from one of the top defenses in the country, but multiple losses at all three levels of defense leaves the unit in flux. Both defensive ends will need to be replaced with Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton now gone after three seasons of solid production, but Joe Palcic, one of the co-defensive coordinators, has been singing the praise of Darius Johnson and Kevin Bush, the likely replacements for one of the Big Ten's most productive end duos. "I'm telling you," Palcic said according to Adam Rittenberg on ESPN's Big Ten Blog, "they're both going to end up being better than Jammie Kirlew." We'll see. As the Hoosiers use the 3-4 defense more, Adam Replogle should see more time at end and Larry Black, at 6'2 and 309 pounds, should eat up the middle.
Last year's leading tackler Matt Mayberry, who also added 5.5 sacks, is gone, leaving Tyler Replogle to man the middle of the second line of defense. A nine-game starter on the strongside last season, Replogle's move to the inside makes way for Leon Beckum to assume a starting position. He's spent most of his time on special teams and has yet to start, but makes for a formidable option next to Replogle. On the weakside will be Chad Sherer, another special teamer last season looking to step in as a redshirt sophomore. The backups are also solid, making this one of the deeper positions on the team, although with limited experience it may take a few weeks before they start to gel. Jeff Thomas, whose success could move Replogle back to strongside, Damon Sims and Dimitrius Carr-Watson should see the field plenty in 2010.
The secondary loses three starters from a season ago with Donnell Jones the only returning starter from last year's secondary. The Hoosiers ranked 95th in pass defense and pass efficiency defense last season and will be looking for their more experienced defensive backs to step up early, as well as a couple of JUCO transfers to contribute. Jones and Chris Adkins are the more experienced of the bunch with Adrian Burks bringing a bit of starting experience to the table. Mitchell Evans will join the defense this season after shuffling around the field at wide receiver, quarterback and safety throughout his career. The Hoosiers will also be watching JUCO transfers Lenyatta Kiles, who could actually claim a starting spot if he has a good fall, and Andre Kates.
Special Teams Overview
Nick Freeland hit only 14 of his 25 field goal attempts last season and managed to connect on all 34 extra point attempts. More consistency will be a must for Freeland if Indiana hopes to win their closer games, and especially to save games when the offense puts up 35+ points. If he struggles, Mitch Ewald, a redshirt freshman, could get his chance to lockdown kicking duties. Chris Hagerup had ACL surgery in the offseason prior to the 2009 season, and it apparently hurt his production, seeing a dip in his punting average from 42.4 yards as a freshman to 40.5 yards as a sophomore. The drop wasn't catastrophic and Hagerup will have the chance, if he's fully healed and ready to go, to pick up where he left off in 2008.
Ray Fisher, who averaged 37.4 yards per kick return in 2009, tops in the country, on 17 attempts and returned two kicks for touchdowns, is gone, leaving the kick return duties in the hands of Tandon Doss. Doss returned 25 kicks last year for a total of 533 yards, a respectable 21.3 yard average. Doss will also get the shot at punt returns after taking four returns back 44 yards in 2009.
Head Coach: Bill Lynch
Bill Lynch has been a fixture for football in the state of Indiana. So much so that he's a member of the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. He's been head coach at Butler, Ball State, DePauw and now at Indiana since 2007. He was a member of Terry Hoeppner's Indiana staff during his tenure as head coach, serving as offensive coordinator. Upon becoming head coach, Lynch led the Hoosiers to their best record since 1993 and their first bowl appearance since that same year. He took Indiana to a 7-5 record and a spot in the Insight Bowl in 2007. He's failed to maintain the success, however, finishing 3-9 and 4-8 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. While he has not brought in a top recruiting class, he has established a solid base with talented players across the roster. Nonetheless, he'll have to turn his team's potential into tangible success in the next few seasons.
Top 2011 Draft Prospects
Ben Chappell, QB; James Brewer, OT
9th Big Ten Conference
Could Indiana be the next team to frustrate its fans by putting up 40 points a game only to give up a few more to the other team? With a talented quarterback and a deep receivers corps, as well as a solid offensive line to give Chappell time to throw, this could develop into a high-flying kind of offense. Look for the defense to assume a more aggressive style of play, but with only four returning starters and unproven promise rife on this unit, it's hard to say whether the Hoosiers will succeed in keeping points off the board.
Indiana will measure success this season by whether they make it to the bowl season. To get to the six wins required for bowl eligibility, they'll have to get through Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State on the out of conference schedule…not exactly an insurmountable feat. That leaves just two in-conference game's they'll have to win. It may sound odd, but one of their best opportunities will come against Michigan, a team that has dominated the Hoosiers and one of the most storied programs in the nation. The Wolverines haven't been anything special of late, finishing 10th and tied for last in conference in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Other opportunities to grab a conference win will come against Illinois, Northwestern (games against the Wildcats have been close since '02) and Purdue, although the Hoosiers have seen just limited success of late against the in-state and conference rival Boilermakers. - Danny Hobrock
Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.
Check out these other stories.....