Last year was about as bad as it gets for a Big Ten program. Well, actually any football program. They were 1-11 with their lone victory against a FCS school in South Carolina State. Do I think the team is much improved? Do I think they magically found young men who can run, catch, pass, and tackle? Not really, but you can only go up from 1-11 and I HAVE to think they find a way to win a few games. They’ll have experience on their side at least; the Hoosiers return more starters than any other Big Ten team (19) and fourth most in the nation. Coach Kevin Wilson’s second year will be a better year in Bloomington, just don’t expect them to make a bowl game. Again.
Indiana’s offense had problems at almost every offensive position last year, but if you want to find a spot to assess blame you just have to look under center. Indiana ran out three different quarterbacks in 2011, none of which overly impressed. The starter for 2012 will be Tre Roberson (937 yards, 3 TDs, 6INT), who at least showed an ability to scramble around and try to make plays downfield. Late season transfer Stephen Houston returns at tailback and led the team with 833 rushing yards last season. He will be behind an offensive line which is returning three starters and should be improved. Gone is Damarlo Belcher, who was Indiana’s best offensive player and lone downfield threat. Kofi Hughes or Jamonne Chester will step into the role as #1 WR.
The only thing worse than Indiana’s offense last year was their defense, ranking 114th in the nation in points against (37.3) and 109th in yards allowed (458.67). Up front the defense was a sieve, allowing teams to rush for 244 yards per game. Two JUCO transfers in David Cooper and Jaccari Alexander should help at linebacker, but if Indiana is to improve they need more from their front four. The secondary should be better as three players with experience do return, but this was also a unit which only had five interceptions last year. That’s as many as Northwestern’s Brian Peters had all year.
Special Teams (B-)
Mitch Ewald is a very solid kicker and was a perfect 10-10 within 40 yards last season. Outside of that it is a crapshoot and he has yet to make one over 50 yards. There will be three punters battling for the drop kicking duties, all of which have zero experience.
Kevin Wilson had a dismal first year as head coach of IU but things can only go up from here. His team will have a lot of experience, plus a kinder schedule in 2012, making me think this team will take some steps in the right direction. Seth Littrell will be in his first year as offensive coordinator since leaving Arizona, a team that put up impressive passing numbers in his time there.
2012 Win/Loss Prediction: 3-9 (6th in Leaders)