2010 NCAA Football Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

2009 Record: 4-8 (1-7 in Big Ten)
2009 Bowl: None
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Bill Lynch (14-23 at Indiana; 95-90-3 All-Time)
Non-Conference Schedule: Towson (9/2), at Western Kentucky (9/18), Akron (9/25)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 23.5 points per game (9th in Big Ten)
Rushing Yards/Game: 117 (9th in Big Ten)
Passing Yards/Game: 248 (4th in Big Ten)
Total Yards/Game: 365 (9th in Big Ten) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.5 points per game (10th in Big Ten)
Rushing Yards/Game: 159 (9th in Big Ten)
Passing Yards/Game: 241 (9th in Big Ten)
Total Yards/Game: 401 (10th in Big Ten)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.58 per game (2nd in Big Ten, 19th in Nation)
Penalties: 49 yards per game (8th in Big Ten)

Returning Starters
Offense: 8
Defense: 4
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Ben Chappell, Sr (268 of 428 for 2942 yds, 15 TD, 17 INT, 245 p/ypg)
Rushing: QB Darius Willis, Soph (123 carries for 607 yds, 6 TD, 4.9 ypc, 67 ypg
Receiving: WR Tandon Doss, Jr (77 rec, 962 yds, 5 TD, 6.4 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Tyler Replogle, Sr (80)
Sacks: DT Adam Replogle, Soph (4)
Interceptions: 5 tied with 1

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #73
Pre-Snap Read: #77
Sporting News: #78

2010 Pre-Season Big Ten Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #10
Phil Steele: #10 (tied with Minnesota

The Hoosiers have only been to 1 bowl (2007 Insight Bowl) since 1993 and unfortunately things don't look great for their chances this year. Offensively they are in decent shape returning 8 starters to an offense that has a chance to be in the top half of the conference from a statistical standpoint. On the defensive side of the football Indiana returns only 4 starters from a group that struggled last year. Indiana also faces a tough Big 10 schedule which includes only 3 home games and they catch all of the big teams (at Ohio State, at Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State in Landover). And their bye week comes after their first week game against Townson.  We turned to someone with better knowledge of Indiana football, John from the SB Nation Indiana Hoosiers blog Crimson Quarry.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

The obvious strength of this team is at the offensive skill positions. Quarterback Ben Chappell is very experienced, and receivers Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher, along with running back Darius Willis, are among the most talented players IU has had at those positions in recent years. The major question mark for IU will be on defense. IU lost two of its best defensive ends of all time and is replacing several starters.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test?

Before the Big Ten opener, IU plays FCS team Towson, recent FBS entrant Western Kentucky, and Akron, a MAC school that fired its coach after last season. I hope that the Big Ten opener against Michigan is the first major test, because if any of the first three games are difficult, this could be a long season. Michigan's struggles over the last two seasons are well-documented, and last year at Ann Arbor, IU led in the fourth quarter and came close to winning at the Big House for the first time since 1967. The IU athletic department seems to be making every effort, through publicity and ticket promotions, to fill Memorial Stadium for this game. While the Wolverines haven't been very good under Rich Rodriguez, they still have significant talent, and the opportunity to beat Michigan (for the first time since 1987) makes this a key game.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

This isn't a novel thought, but Ohio State is the most dangerous team on IU's schedule. IU's last win against OSU was in 1988, and IU hasn't even been able to stay within 10 points of the buckeyes since 1996. I can imagine IU competing in any of the other games on the schedule, but it's hard to imagine, even if IU is much better than in 2009, that IU will put up much of a fight in Columbus.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Since offensive lineman rarely get much publicity, I'll mention sophomore center Will Matte. Matte, as a redshirt freshman in 2009, started all 12 games at center on a line that excelled at pass protection. Matte and his linemates will have to improve their run-blocking, but Matte is a promising talent and who played admirably at a crucial position.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Junior WR Tandon Doss ranked in the nation's top 30 in receiving yards and receptions last year. Many others, including QB Ben Chappell, RB Darius Willis, and WR Damarlo Belcher are key to the IU offense, but Doss probably was the most impressive last year.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

IU's defense loses most of its starters, but Adam Replogle, who was the only true freshman to play last year, started 11 games at defensive tackle and had four sacks.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

Ben Chappell. IU's defense, given its losses to graduation, will struggle, and IU will have to excel on offense to have a winning season. Chappell improved in his first full season as a starter, improving his completion percentage to 62 percent from 52 percent, but he threw 15 interceptions to only 17 touchdown passes.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Redshirt freshman WR Duwyce Wilson was Indiana's Mr. Football in 2008 and was one of IU's more acclaimed recruits of recent years. Even considering the returning talent at WR, the hope is that he will stand out.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Defensive back Lawrence Barnett was IU's highest-rated defensive recruit of the 2009 class. He missed most of his senior year in high school with an ankle injury and had surgery on his wrist following spring practice, but if he is healthy he seems likely to see the field quite a bit. IU's highest-rated 2010 recruit is linebacker Ishmael Thomas, but the current IU staff has attempted to redshirt freshmen as much as possible.

Billy Lynch has been on the job for 3 years. His best success came in year one when he went 7-6 and took the team to a bowl. Since then Indiana has had back to back 1-7 Conference records. How much pressure is he under to win? What does he need to improve and how much improvement does he need the team to show to ensure he is still the coach?

No one really knows. IU athletic director Fred Glass has been on the job for 18 months, but he's never been an athletic director before and hasn't fired or hired a coach in a revenue sport (although he did fire men's soccer coach Mike Freitag, and soccer is a big deal at IU). He has been supportive of Lynch, and Lynch's recruiting has been reasonably good, but at some point he will have to do better in Big Ten play. I tend to think that 6-6 will be good enough for him to keep his job. Given the laydown nonconference schedule, even an "improved" 5-7 record probably would include another 1-7 record in Big Ten play. IU fans are nearly unanimous in liking Lynch and hoping that he is the guy, but his overall record, both at IU and and Ball State, is cause for pessimism. In each case, he took over a program in good shape than then declined.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

My gut feeling is that IU will find a way to 6-6 and a Motor City Bowl berth. I would be content with any record that gives IU its second bowl bid in the last 17 years, but I would require a 7-5 record to truly consider 2010 a successful season.

Thanks to John for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions. Make sure to visit The Crimson Quarry and you can also follow them on twitter @crimsonquarry.

Previous Big Ten Previews:
Illinois Fighting Illini
Michigan Wolverines
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Northwestern Wildcats
Ohio State Buckeyes
Purdue Boilermakers

Next Up: Iowa State Cyclones

Previous Pre-Season Previews
ACC- Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Syracuse Orange, UConn Huskies, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma SoonersTexas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders
C-USA- Houston Cougars,  SMU Mustangs, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Tulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
Independent- Army Black Knights, Navy Midshipmen, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Central Michigan Chippewas, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
MWC- BYU Cougars,  Colorado State Rams, UNLV Rebels, Utah Utes
Pac-10- Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, Stanford Cardinal, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU Tigers, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- FIU Golden Panthers, North Texas Mean Green, Troy Trojans
WAC- Boise State Broncos, Fresno State Bulldogs, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, New Mexico State Aggies

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