The season so far, if it were a series of movies:
- Aug. 31: Back to School
- Sept. 7: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
- Sept. 14: The Expendables
- Sept. 21: Chariots of Fire
- Sept. 28: The Princess Bride
- Oct. 5: Any Chuck Norris movie
- Oct. 12: Shaun of the Dead
The last couple times we saw Indiana, unstoppable throw-god Ben Chappell took all the points from Tony Gibson and Bill Lynch took bubble gum out of his mouth. Jordan Kovacs was chasing Darius Willis from behind and everyone else was chasing Denard Robinson.
My goodness, how time flies. Gibson has since run out of points and Lynch has run out of gum. Kovacs stopped having to chase people, although people continued to chase Denard. Sometime at the end of 2010, everything collapsed momentarily and then exploded.
What we have now is a sort of post-apocalyptic situation where the folks in Bloomington are trying to remember how society, civilization, and football are supposed to work. The good news is that nearly everyone from last year is returning, ostensibly in an effort to learn from their mistakes and try to do better. Progress so far has been minimal but sustainable, and the earnest spirit is nice to see. The Hoosiers have learned how to advance themselves from the line of scrimmage, although they are still struggling with the concept of opposing defenses. To make matters worse, they are constantly ravaged by marauding running backs and wideouts.
Head coach Kevin Wilson seems intent on rebuilding the program from the ashes, though, and good on him for trying. Will Indiana finally make the leap in year three? Are they doomed to an endless cycle of promise and disappointment? Would the program be better suited for the MAC? Is this the real life? Are we actually living in the Matrix?
DUN DUN DUN.
Unstoppable throw-god lies low.
Indiana’s starting QB Tre Roberson broke his leg during the second game of 2012. Naturally, backup Cameron Coffman filled in and posted the Big Ten’s best passing yardage in 2012. Wait, what?
Yeah. These things happen sometimes. Even to Indiana! Which has had one winning season (2007) in the last 20 years!
Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that Indiana’s quarterback might be good this year, I should point out the passing competency is a little exaggerated. Coffman completed 60.7% of his passes for 2734 yards at a 6.7 ypa clip. In any other conference that would be unremarkable (Big Ten!). The 15:11 TD:INT ratio is pretty pedestrian, too. The only thing Coffman’s stats tell us is that he threw a lot of passes – like 60 vs. Penn State a lot – not all of which were aimed downfield.
I’m not saying he’s not actually a decent player. The Big Ten just sucks. (Or prefers a nice running game as opposed to wussy throw-ball. However you want to spin that.)
Anyway, as a first-year starter Coffman was pretty streaky. There were plenty of moments of awesomeness (like throwing 3 TDs, 0 INTs against Michigan State) intermingled with general mediocrity. For example, here is awesomeness:
And here is not awesomness:
Over the course of the season he had really great performances against MSU, Ball State, and Iowa, and he tanked against Northwestern, Navy, and Purdue, of all teams.
If he gets the consistency thing down, the Hoosiers passing offense might actually be kind of good. The receivers will certainly be talented enough: Cody Latimer (51 rec, 805 yards, 6 TD), Shane Wynn (68 rec, 660 yards, 6 TD), and Kofi Hughes (43 rec, 639 yard, 3 TD) were first, second, and third on the team in yardage last season, and they all return. At 6-3, Latimer and Hughes are the bigger downfield targets; Wynn is the 5-7 smurf trying to juke guys. I’d expect at least one of them to crack 1,000 yards this season.
If Indiana wants win games, one of them will pretty much have to. That’s because the ground game is pretty stinky. RB Stephen Houston will be a senior this fall, and he has his own consistency issues to work out. Last season he was more cold than hot, although he did manage to end up with 749 yards, 12 touchdowns and a 4.7 ypc average. His 10-ish carries a game as the team’s top rusher suggests that he got his yards mostly by surprising opponents with the ball. As far as ability goes, he’s the type of player that lives and dies by his offensive line, which is bad news for him because his offensive line is crap. Against the competent defenses of MSU, Wisconsin, and Penn State, Houston barely averaged 2.0 ypc.
To put the ground game in perspective, Indiana finished at the bottom of the conference in rushing attempts. That’s a pretty solid vote of no-confidence. But hey, they all return! One year older, one year better, hoorah.
Speaking of guys returning, the whole Coffman-led offense thing could go entirely out the window if Roberson gets his job back.
This photo would be way cooler if they were playing futbol.
Well this looks pretty GERGian. Indiana gave up 35.3 points per game in 2012, and they’re not even a little bit ashamed because they beat Iowa.
So what’s there to look forward to in 2013? Lots and lots of points.
The Hoosiers defensive coordinator is Doug Mallory. He’s the son of former Indiana head coach Bill Mallory and older brother of current Michigan DB coach Curt Mallory’ older brother. Like Curt, Doug also played DB for Michigan under Bo. At the moment, the data on his ability to DC are incomplete. Mallory inherited Tony Gibson’s negative infinity points (literally, since Gibson actually went to Indiana for a little while [ED: Actually that was Greg Frey and Rod Smith; Gibson went to Pitt. Uh, let's pretend his spirit was at Indiana, though.]) two seasons ago and has probably been popping antidepressants ever since. In his moments of clarity he’s done well enough to improve total defense by two points per game up from the 37.3 they gave up in 2011. And here’s a nice little stat I guess: in 2012 the Hoosiers led the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss. That’s progress, and progress is happiness.
While the defense returns 10 starters this season, it loses its two relatively talented players in DT Adam Replogle and DT Larry Black, Jr. Even with those guys, however, Indiana gave up 5.3 ypc, good for 8th worst in all of college football. How will the Hoosiers replace them? I don’t know. I feel bad naming anyone because publicly associating individuals with the Indiana defense has to be a HIPAA violation of some sort.
But I suppose I should. This is why we’re here after all.
So. Senior S Greg Heban will be the main guy trying to chase people down from behind. He had 68 solo tackles last year, so it looks like he was pretty good at catching them at least. Good for him. He also had 7 tackles for loss and a sack, so it looks like he has some blitzing ability. For comparison’s sake let’s call him Hoosier Kovacs.
Hoosier Kovacs will be assisted in running-after-people-and-occasionally-blitzing by fellow safety Mark Murphy (70 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack), and sophomore LB David Cooper (86 tackles, 9 TFLs, 3 sacks). Together those three will serve as the entire defense while others stand around having intense internal struggles about spots and getting to them.
This team is kind of like: Northwestern’s dystopian alternate reality.
Vs. Michigan: Michigan’s defense will probably play a nickel the entire game, which means we should see a lot of Dymonte Thomas. Seven games into the season seems like a pretty good time for a true freshman to blow up.
Other than that I think the only other thing to pay attention to in this game is when to do the wave. I always miss the first go-around.
Anyway, here is some fun stuff from 2010:
- Aug. 29, Indiana State
- Sept. 7, Navy
- Sept. 14, Bowling Green
- Sept. 21, Missouri
- Sept. 28, BYE
- Oct. 5, Penn State
- Oct. 12, @Michigan State
- Oct. 19, @Michigan
- Oct. 26, BYE
- Nov. 2, Minnesota
- Nov. 9, Illinois
- Nov. 16, @Wisconsin
- Nov. 23, @Ohio State
- Nov. 30, Purdue
Outlook: 5-7 overall, 2-6 B1G
- Wins: Indiana State, Bowling Green, Illinois, Purdue
- Too close to call: Navy, Minnesota
- Losses: Missouri, Penn State, @Michigan State, @Michigan, @Wisconsin, @Ohio State