Big Ten Football Previews: Indiana


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Indiana finished 1-11 in 2011, and head coach Kevin Wilson is “personally embarrassed” by that record.

Despite getting a bad rap for having a poor defense, he said, Indiana isn’t going to get better until both sides of the ball come up to par.

“Everybody talks about our D struggling. We average 18.1 points [per game]. That’s as poor an offense as I’ve been around since 1999,” Wilson said. “Scoring points is going to be critical for our football team’s success, to complement the defense.”

Senior center Will Matte said Indiana’s offense, which scored 21.4 percent less than its opponents, is to blame for the losses just as much as the defense.

“We didn’t support our defense enough, we didn’t score enough points, we didn’t execute when we needed to,” Matte said. “The longer we’re on the field, the less [the defense] is … It’s up to the offense to control the tempo of the game.”

Indiana gave up 5,504 total yards in 2011 and was the only team in the Big Ten to give up more rushing yards than in the air, allowing their opponents 2,924 and 2,580, respectively.

Stopping the run is going to be crucial for the Hoosiers.

“We’re not going to play great defense yet,” Wilson said. “But we have to get some [third down] stops to keep the game manageable and give us a chance to start getting Ws in Big Ten play.”

Senior defensive tackle Larry Black Jr. said the Hoosiers’ defense has been hyper-vigilant in training to get third-down stops. Situational play, where the defense steps on the field with two downs expired and focuses on just getting the third-attempt stop, is a major part of practices.

“We’re going to be the type of defense where we have to battle throughout the game. Getting off the field on third down will be the most important key for the defense this season,” Black said. “It was proven last year, if you don’t get off on third down, man, we’re in trouble.”

The offense is looking shaky for the Hoosiers, too. There are still three eligible candidates for the quarterback slot and Wilson and his staff doesn’t yet know who’s going to be calling the signals come game day.

The battle is among sophomores Tre Roberson, Cam Coffman, and Nate Sudfield. Roberson, who became the first true freshman in Indiana history to start at quarterback, started five games and saw action in nine last season. He connected on 81-of-142 passes (57 percent) and tallied 426 rushing yards on 109 carries (3.9 yards).

Coffman has experience coming out of Arizona Western Community College and carries a 61.4 percent passing record to the Hoosiers.

Sudfeld hasn’t played in front of a college crowd, however. The freshman graduated early from high school to start playing and joined the Indiana squad in May.

Roberson has the accolades, but he’s not a shoo-in for the QB slot. Not by a long shot.

There’s a decent chance that Coffman will jump straight from junior college to the Big Ten or that Sudfeld will become the second true freshman in Hoosier history to start as the signal caller.

“When you’re a 1-11 football team, there’s no job safety,” Wilson said. “There’s nothing etched in stone, [not] if you’ve started, [not] if you’ve played.”

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