Coach: Kevin Wilson (14-34, entering fifth season; 14-34 overall)
2014 record: 4-8, 1-7 in the Big Ten Conference, seventh in East Division
Look back: The 2014 season began with a lot of promise for the Indiana Hoosiers. The team opened up by winning three of its first five games, but an injury to starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and inconsistent play by the defense helped IU drop six in a row before a win over in-state rival Purdue during the regular-season finale. It was the second time in three years Indiana finished with four wins in a season.
Offensive starters returning: 8
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 6
Key losses: RB Tevin Coleman, OL Collin Rahrig, WR Nick Stoner, WR Shane Wynn, DB Tim Bennett, LB David Cooper, LB Forisse Hardin, DB Michael Hunter, DB Mark Murphy, DL Bobby Richardson
Top returnees: QB Nate Sudfeld, WR J-Shun Harris II, OL Jake Reed, OL Jason Spriggs, OL Dan Feeney, OL Ralston Evans, DB Antonio Allen, DL Nate Hoff, LB T.J. Simmons
Strengths: Sudfeld’s injury was a huge blow to Indiana’s offense. The junior quarterback was putting up big numbers offensively before he was sidelined for the remainder of the season. His replacement, Zander Diamont, went through the typical growing pains associated with being a freshman. Turnovers plagued the offense that finished the season ranked last in the Big Ten in passing offense (141 yards per game). Sudfeld’s return to form in 2015 will be crucial for the team’s success.
The offensive line returns three starters from last season, with the unit led by tackles Jason Spriggs and Ralston Evans.
Weaknesses: Kevin Wilson’s forte is offense and since his arrival in Bloomington, the Hoosiers have been able to score a ton of points. However, the defense hasn’t kept up. Indiana ranks among the worst defenses in the Big Ten, giving up more than 32 points per game during the past four seasons. Last year, the team ranked near the bottom of the league in points (32.8) as well as passing yards (251) and rushing yards (183) allowed per game. The unit returns just six starters from last season.
Indiana finished behind Wisconsin and Ohio State in the Big Ten in rushing offense thanks, in part, to Tevin Coleman. The talented running back was second in the league with 2,036 rushing yards while averaging 7.5 yard per carry and 170 yards per game. His departure leaves a huge vacuum at the position. Jordan Howard, a transfer from UAB, looks to fill the void left by Coleman. Howard rushed for 1,587 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Blazers last season.
Shane Wynn was Indiana’s primary threat in the passing game. He led the team with 56 catches for 708 yards and three touchdowns. His departure, along with that of Nick Stoner, means the Hoosiers’ best receiving option is J-Shun Harris II (18 catches, 168 yards).
Outlook: Indiana has had just one winning season since 1994. To end the streak, the Hoosiers will need everyone to remain healthy — especially Sudfeld — while getting better production from their defense. The combination of steady play, good fortune and a relatively easy schedule early in the year could help the team earn its first bowl opportunity since 2007.
Sept. 5 Southern Illinois
Sept. 12 FIU
Sept. 19 Western Kentucky
Sept. 26 at Wake Forest
Oct. 3 Ohio State
Oct. 10 at Penn State
Oct. 17 Rutgers
Oct. 24 at Michigan State
Nov. 7 Iowa
Nov. 14 Michigan
Nov. 21 at Maryland
Nov. 28 at Purdue
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com