IU had a much improved season in coach Kevin Wilson's second year. The Hoosiers finished with a 4-8 (2-6) record.
Before the season began, we predicted a 3-8 record for the Hoosiers with no Big Ten win. There was even a point in the year that IU could have been looking at playing in a bowl game, but sadly couldn't seal the deal.
They didn't do much to give fans hope late in the season after losing three straight blowout games.
IU's biggest problem this season was closing out games. Against Ball State, Navy, and Michigan State the Hoosiers threw away leads late in the game.
While IU is improved in all aspects of the game, there are still issues on each side of the ball.
IU struggled with consistency. Losing Tre Roberson in the second game of the season was a huge blow to the offense. While Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld did an admirable job of filling in for the former starter, they are simply not starting caliber QBs yet.
Roberson is a true duel threat QB, able to throw the ball as well as he can run it. IU's playbook is much bigger with Roberson on the field. Coffman and Sudfeld are basically statues in the pocket. They lack mobility and neither has a very good feel for when the defense is closing in. Sudfeld has a tendency to bail too early on plays while Coffman would hold the ball for too long and not roll away from pressure very well.
As the season forged on, Coffman appeared to regress. Towards the end of the year it seemed as if he forgot how to hit an open receiver. He also did things, such as starting down targets, that should have been weeded out of him in high school.
IU's struggles didn't just extend to quarterbacking. More often than not it seemed as if one or more wide receivers would simply take a play off. In addition, they had a tendency to just stand around when the QB was rolling out rather then fighting to get open. Kofi Hughes was the biggest culprit here.
Cody Latimer was the most consistent target for IU's QB's and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors for his effort. Shane Wynn and Ted Bolser earned honorable mention.
Bolser is an interesting conundrum. He is a serious match-up nightmare for defenders. He is able to body up safeties and corner backs while being able to out run most linebackers. He was seriously under utilized and should be considered a pro-prospect based solely on his measurable characteristics alone. Hopefully his senior season will be more productive to give him a chance in the NFL.
Running Backs and Offensive Line
We combine these two because one affects the other. Stephen Houston had a very solid season behind and inconsistent O-line. He finished the year averaging 4.7 yards per carry and found the end zone 16 times. There was a big drop off from Houston to the other backs. D'Angelo Roberts, Tevin Coleman, and Isaiah Roundtree were all decent, but none of them proved to be a feature back. Roberson had nearly as many rushing yards and more touchdowns than Roundtree in just a game and a half.
The offensive line needs some serious work. Left tackle Jason Spriggs, a true freshman, was honorable mention for the All-Big Ten team. He was a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing offensive line. IU never seems to have the size on the line to be truley competitive in the Big Ten. It was noted during the Wisconsin game that the average size of their starting line was 6-5 and 320 lbs. IU didn't have a single starter over 300 lbs.
On the one hand, it's hard to be too critical of a defense that was on the field over half of the game. IU was worst in the Big Ten in time of possession and thus put a ton of pressure on the defense, and that was something they couldn't handle. In addition, IU only forced 13 turnovers and rarely gave the offense a short field to work with. They also allowed a 40 percent conversion rate on opponents third downs. There were in the bottom half of the Big Ten in turnovers and third downs.
IU's line was highlighted by the play of defensive tackle Adam Replogle. The senior had a pretty good season and finished with five sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He was named to the second-team All-Big Ten. Between Replogle and fellow senior Larry Black, Jr. the two anchored an up and down d-line. This will be a huge hole for the Hoosiers to fill going into next season as these two graduate.
Based on the statistics alone, it would appear that IU had a solid line, but that would be a lie. IU did rack up 27 sacks, good for fourth in the Big Ten, but had a tendency to feast on weaker opponents. IU racked up seven sacks against Illinois alone, and Illinois QB's were sacked 39 times this season. It would have been more surprising if IU hadn't gotten sacks that game. That brings their total down to 20, which would have been tied for ninth in the Big Ten.
The biggest test of the D-line was the failure to defend the run this season. IU was last in the Big Ten in rush defense, giving up 231 yards per game. IU was 120th out of 124 FBS teams. That is worse than bad. IU absolutely HAS to shore up the defense in the offseason. They will get help in the form of a number of solid recruits, but they will still be freshmen.
This was another area where IU failed to produce. IU was simply thin across the board on defense. No single player really stood out here for the Hoosiers. The unit struggled to do simple things, like gap control and tackling. The middle of IU's defensive line was good enough to slow running backs down, but the linebackers were unable to stop them for short gains.
Much like the linebackers, IU failed pretty hard in the secondary. Safety Greg Heban was the lone bright spot. He finished the season with three interceptions and eight passes defended. IU was simply bad at defending in every phase. IU ranked 11th in pass defense efficiency and gave up 232 yards passing a game.
Coupled with the horrid run defense, IU gave up 463 yards and 35 points per game, both last in the Big Ten.
The Hoosiers have a lot of work to do in the offseason. This team will already be much improved just by getting Roberson back on the field. Couple that with what appears to be a pretty solid recruiting class and IU might be improved across the board this season.
We'll have more on the 2013 Class in the next few days.
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