Indiana Week: Cocktail Party Preview

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

We keep rolling right along with B1G 2013! This week: Indiana Week, and where better to start than with cocktails?

Picture it: You're close to making partner at the firm, and you're invited to a cocktail party at the boss's house. He invites you into his office to enjoy a glass of his private reserve of Glenlivet, and then you see it - ALL THE INDIANA GEAR. Cream and crimson drapes, a framed and signed picture of Bobby Knight - shit, the walls are even painted like those obnoxious-ass pants. Your mind is racing, "So, you went to Indiana?"

"Damn straight!" he replies, hurriedly turning his Notre Dame jacket inside out to reveal a basketball logo and the IU trident, "You a fan?" Well, outside of at least not being a Northwestern alum (because they don't have bosses), you try to think of how to answer that question. I mean, what do you know about Indiana? That's where we come in. This is the quintessential guide to what you might need to know about Indiana in that situation. It's not the most in-depth, but it sure will get you by. Let's be clear: I'm not an Indiana fan. If you are an Indiana fan, have an interest in scotch and cigars, the law, or even just want to write about Indiana football once in a while - hit us up: grahamfiller10-at-gmail.com. But we digress; after all, your boss is giving you a quizzical look and your mind is racing!

About Last Season

The good news...

Progress?

Making the jump from 1-11 in 2011 to 4-8 in 2012, Kevin Wilson started to right the ship in Bloomington. Surviving an early scare from the in-state Sycamores and even winning two B1G games for the first time since 2007 (they went 3-5, you guys!), Indiana began to turn around, proving they rack up points and yards: 51st in ppg (30.75), 34th in ypg (442) nationally. So good, in fact, that OTE writers chose Indiana offensive players at not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE offensive/specialist positions!

The bad news...

There's that...um...defense thing. The Hoosiers were 116th in rush defense (231.33 ypg), 103rd in total defense (463.50), and 101st in scoring defense (35.25 ppg), while managing only 13 takeaways. Wilson is apparently prioritizing this in practice, especially better modifying his defensive schemes for the run-heavy attacks of the B1G, but the Hoosiers have a long, long way to go. And they might want to win back that Bucket sometime soon.

On The Offensive Side Of The Ball

The good news...

People be coming back. I said it in the QB Preview, and I stand by it: "And color me not shocked if Indiana toys a little bit with that 2-QB system and plays Roberson/Coffman a lot like Colter/Siemian. All that team needs is a passable-at-best defense and they're bowling." Tre Roberson gallops back into Memorial Stadium for Indiana, bringing with him a propensity for explosive plays (see his 50-yd TD run last fall in his limited action) and an arm that has a career completion percentage of 59.4% in his limited time at the helm. Both Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld back up Roberson, giving Wilson an interesting three-headed monster at QB. Both backups completed over 60% of their throws last year, with Sudfeld throwing an impressive 7 TDs against 1 pick. But let's not forget the old adage: if you have two quarterbacks, you have none. If you have three quarterbacks, you're Purdue.

But I know you're asking: do those guys have people to throw it to? I will answer your question with the bleeding obvious: did you read the links I gave you above?! Go on, do it. I won't write another damn thing until you do.

Better? Alright. Cody Latimer is a man at WR. Racking up 805 yards receiving and 6 TDs, Latimer is flanked by the speedy Shane Wynn, who provides a nice option as a shorter, speedier slasher across the middle and caught 68 passes, most on the team, for 660 and 6 last season. Oh, and there's that tight end, Ted Bolser. Before last season, all anyone seemed to be able to talk about was his body fat percentage dropping from 20 to 13%. It apparently paid off: Bolser hauled in 41 passes for 445, providing a nice spread TE option for Wilson's high-octane offense. Oh, and Mitch Ewald's back. All the pieces are there for this offense.

The bad news...

Um...the Hoosiers did lose senior center Will Matte, but the rest of the offensive line returns intact. And it's hardly solid, concrete statistics, but the Hoosiers' offense petered out a little over the course of the season, cracking 30 points only once in their last five B1G games (and coming against Purdue, at that). Deciding how to use Roberson and Coffman will be vital for Wilson-Roberson acknowledged that he was rusty this spring, and Coffman's accurate arm can excel in the Indiana spread.

The Defensive Side Of The Ball

The good news...

There is barely anywhere to go but up. Indiana's entire secondary is filled with upperclassmen, and senior safety Greg Heban will be looking to build on his 3 INT performance in 2012 with a solid season shoring up the Hoosier secondary.

Up front, DE Ryan Phillis could have a breakout season. Starting all 12 games last year as a redshirt sophomore, Phillis collected three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. But, this is still Indiana we're talking about...

The bad news...

Adam Replogle is gone, and he ain't coming back. Larry Black graduated. Those two alone combined for 9.0 sacks on a team that only recorded 27. There's a lot of youth at defensive tackle, with redshirt frosh Ralphael (seriously?) Green and sophomore Alex Todd. And this is still, largely, the same defense, which lost its best players, who still "anchored" a front seven that allowed over two-hundred and thirty rushing yards a game.

On The Special Teams

The good news...

Mitch Ewald is a pretty solid kicker. 42/43 on PATs and 15/20 on FGs, Ewald has seen the Hoosiers through, but needs to add a little consistency from shorter in. Missing those 20-40 yd FGs could cost Indiana in a season where any points this offense can put on the board are desperately needed to outstrip the defense.

The bad news...

Erich Toth needs to step up in the punting department: boasting only a 39.5 ypp average and 7 inside the 20, the Hoosiers rarely were able to flip the field on their opponents despite only allowing 4.5 yards per return.

The Hoosiers ranked 93rd in the country returning punts but 56th on kickoffs...do with that what you will. I've pretended to care about Indiana's specialists, for crying out loud. Go home.

On The Schedule

The good news...

BE COMPETENT, INDIANA. You were two "Not shitting the bed" games against Ball State and Navy away from going bowling. No, seriously. Let that sink in for a moment. Win your non-conference schedule, like you absolutely should have, and you'd be going bowling.

Apart from that? This year, the Hoosiers open their season with four consecutive home non-conference games, conveniently in order of difficulty: Indiana State, Navy, Bowling Green, and Mizzou. Navy will provide a good test of the "improved" run defense but should be handled. Same for Bowling Green and the pass defense.

In B1G play, Indiana crosses over against the Michigans and Minnesota, which could be at least one win for the Hoosiers. They'll need it if they want to go bowling. With additional home games against Illinois and Purdue, it looks like Indiana has a shot.

The bad news...

Mizzou at home? How the hell did you manage that, AD Fred Glass? It's gonna suck when you're getting "S-E-C" rained down on your 20K fans in attendance. The Cream and Crimson have to travel to the Michigans and to Wisconsin and Ohio State, so those will be...um...rough.

If You're Talking To A Hoosier Fan, Don't Mention:

Syracuse, Tom Crean's inability to win in the NCAA tournament, the Old Oaken Bucket's absence, 1-11, 2013-14 basketball, anything about a love of trains and their production, Notre Dame basketball.

Do Mention:

Notre Dame football, "Play 13" in 2007, Hep, all those new and fancy traditions like The Rock, the Marching Hundred (get some spats, hippies), Kevin Wilson and the Incredible Flying Offense.

Join our team at OTE

Off Tackle Empire is looking for a writer to bring that unique Bloomington flavor to our coverage. Are you an Indiana alum or fan who would like to join our staff of malcontents and ne'er do wells? Contact grahamfiller10 at gmail dot com if you are interested.

MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Smartest Guys in the Room

WEDNESDAY | Hoosier Potluck

THURSDAY | Wildcard

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close

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