Two things before we begin. You may notice that I am not Chad. If you think this Potluck rocks you can credit me. If you think it sucks, then by all means continue to direct your vitriol towards him. Secondly, you may be noticing that it is Thursday and the Potluck is usually on Wednesday. Technical difficulties delayed the creation and delivery of the post, which is why you have a pretend Chad writing this. Our apologies!
Let's get this thing started!
Defense (or lack thereof) is obviously the biggest issue for the Hoosiers. Last year saw them play a lot of young guys a lot of minutes, and they brought in some talented recruits on the defensive side of the ball (Antonio Allen at DB, David Kenney and Darius Latham on the DL) who Indiana will be happy to play early if they display talent (Latham graduated early and went thru spring practices with IU, I think). They also added William Inge (NFL experience with the Bills) as a co-defensive coordinator. However, the Hoosiers also lost Adam Replogle and Larry Black to graduation, and....well, they're the Hoosiers. They've never been good on defense, and managed to give up 37 ppg and 35 ppg in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Where does improvement on defense come from for Indiana? And what would be your measurement of "unqualified improvement/success" for the Hoosier defense in 2013?
Baba O'Really: The hurry-up spread is a good offensive system for scoring points, but it can cause your defense to stay out on the field for long stretches at a time. I think holding the opponents to 30 or so points a game with at least one field position changing turnover would be a great improvement for this team.
Aaron Yorke: It's going to be tough with Black and Replogle leaving, but IU needs to first and foremost improve its rush defense. In the B1G, everyone can run the ball, but not every team can throw it so efficiently. If a team has a strong rush defense but a poor pass defense, it will still find some games that it can win against poor quarterback play. Even when Indiana gave up 290 passing yards to Andrew Maxwell of Michigan State last year, the Hoosiers still came oh-so-close to pulling the upset because they held Le'Veon Bell to 3.3 yards per carry. The Hoosiers must make teams beat them through the air. Sometimes they will get beat, but not every team is comfortable throwing the ball that much, even in a situation that warrants it.
Ted Glover: Where does the improvement come from? Recruiting. Their most ballyhooed recruiting tale tied to Indiana in recent memory was the Saga of Gunner Kiel, but cut through his buffoonery and you'll see some talent starting to come to Bloomington. Their class of 2013 has some potential players, and Kevin Wilson is doing what a lot of coaches that come into moribund programs do--tap into the junior college pipeline. He managed to get 24th ranked DT (Darius Latham, Indianapolis North Central HS) and 33rd ranked DE nationally (David Kenney, Indianapolis Pike) per Scout to sign, plus Wilson has some decent linebacker and secondary prospects coming in as well, such as Kristopher Smith, Chase Dutra, Antonio Allen and Rashard Fant. And when you can't get any worse, you're bound to get better. I think you'll see a ton of new players on defense playing with no history of futility attached to them personally, coached by a staff that is probably the most DGAF in the conference. They're not going to be world beaters, but they aren't going to suck, either.
GoAUpher: Where does the improvement come from? Ummmmm...large offerings of rum and cigars that please Jobu and bring his good blessings down upon the beleaguered IU defense? The bar is probably pretty low for most when it comes to an "unqualified success" rating for Indiana's D and you can count me among that group. When you're trying to bring a unit up from the dregs of the conference or the nation you have to make your improvements happen in steps. I'm a Minnesota fan and have some experience in watching teams facing this issue.
For IU, I'd say that includes getting below the 30ppg barrier and getting the defense to improve by 20-30 categories in the major statistical categories for a defensive team. In rush defense you're hoping to get into the 90's (preferrably low 90's) instead of being 116th. In pass defense (where you were already an ok 60th) you're hoping to crack the 40's. And in ppg, you're looking to move from 101st to the high 70's. If you can make those sorts of leaps the differences should be seen on the field, even if they may not be fully reflected in the win column.
MNWildcat: I would think the improvement comes from being able -- in any way -- to stop the run. Force some teams into the air and see what your veteran secondary can do back there. 230+ ypg on the ground is just...impossibly bad. "Unqualified improvement" is getting the ppg to >32. "Unqualified success" is getting it inside 30 and going positive in the take/give. Of course, some of that is on the offense, but whatever.
Jesse Collins: Improvement has to start up front. The Hoosiers didn't only allow a ridiculous amount of points, they also let opponents rush for around 230 yards each game good for 119th out of 124 Div 1 teams. Every team Indiana faced realized this as well and upped their rushes per game. First and foremost, the Hoosiers need to find some guys up front who can clog running lanes and make the easy tackle. I think to see a major jump, Indiana needs to allow fewer than 200 rushing YPG and then shore up the redzone defense that was also pretty awful. They allowed a conference worst 68% TD conversion rate. Get that down to 60% or so and this team is probably bowling.
MSULaxer27: Since 1993 (roughly 20 years) the Hoosiers have out scored their opponents on a season just four times. Unfortunately two of those times were under Bill Mallory way back in 1993 and 1994. The Fighting Indiani have held their opponents under 200 points on a season just once in that time frame, again, under Wild Bill back in 1994 (197). Since 1993 they've given up over 400 points in a season to their opponents six times (6!) including the last three seasons consecutive (and four of the last five). I understand that we now play a 12 game (and in some cases 13 game) season - but IU hasn't been bowling since 2007 so most of this damage has been done in just 12 games. So, how would I judge success for the Hoosiers in 2013? Win more than 4 games and hold your opponents under 350 points on the season. Whether or not you outscore your opponents on a season has something to do with your offense, obviously, but if you hold the opponents under 350 (29.1 ppg) you at least give that offense something of a chance.
Graham Filler: Improvement on DEFENSE comes from an improved OFFENSE.
I capitalized things like John Gruden would say them.
Anyways, until Indiana can take an offense out of its rhythm/gameplan, expect the Hoosiers to give up TONS OF POINTS. If your scheme isn't working against Indiana, just keep trying, eventually the Hoosier D will break down.
A successful Indiana offense puts tremendous pressure on the other team to score, which MAY, somehow, make the opposing team do something they aren't used to or good at.
Debate the following (perhaps absurd, but give me a second) proposition -- the Hoosiers are the deepest team at QB in the entire B1G. Between Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman, and Nate Sudfeld, the Hoosiers go three-deep with QBs that have B1G playing experience, incredible athleticism, and the ability to fling the ball pretty damn accurately all over the field. Is there another team that could weather one or more injuries to its QBs as easily as Indiana in the B1G this season?
Baba O'Really: I definitely wouldn't go so far as to say that Coffman and Sudfeld have "incredible athleticism". After accounting for sacks, I don't think they combined for positive rushing yards. And Roberson did fairly well for a freshman two years ago, but wasn't really that impressive if you aren't grading on an IU football curve. And he's coming off of a broken leg, which has got to be tough. To answer the last part of your question, I do think that Indiana can weather an injury at this position better than anyone because all of their players are competent and they play in a very good offensive system.
Aaron Yorke: It's really too bad that IU can't trade one or two of these guys for defensive starters, because they could bring back a haul. Indiana will just have to settle for having the deepest QB corps in the conference. The closest team to having a situation like that might be Northwestern, who has both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian returning from last year's campaign.
Ted Glover: Hmmm. Something about having two quarterbacks equals having none, and three quarterbacks means your Purdue comes to mind. But to your premise, I think you'd be hard pressed to find this kind of depth at this position anywhere else in the conference. OSU has a pretty good two deep with Braxton Miller and senior Kenny Guiton, but having three good quarterbacks is a luxury. For everybody's sake, I hope that Wilson settles on one guy, which should be Tre Roberson is he's healthy, and only goes to Coffman or Sudfeld if Roberson can't play.
GoAUpher: I see only one...Northwestern. The Wildcats essentially run a two headed monster at QB as it is. While I don't think it would be an ideal situation to have Kain Colter go down, Trevor Siemian has more than enough experience to step up and take over. You could also argue Wisconsin I suppose, but I'm not sold on Curt Phillips as the answer behind Stave (and yes, I'm assuming Joel comes out as the #1). All the other schools have unproven or true freshman talent sitting behind the current (or projected) starter on the depth chart. The exception to that comment would be Illinois, but the list of problems their offense is facing is long and starts with Beckman, Tim. It doesn't matter that both of the primary QB's in Champaign-Urbana have experience...their offense is still likely to struggle.
MNWildcat: I would say no, no one can as easily as Indiana, though Northwestern could still succeed. Eventually, though, Roberson is going to have to prove that he can throw the ball (I watched him run the ball at will on Northwestern in 2011) and be a true dual-threat, otherwise Coffman or Sudfeld could make their push.
Jesse Collins: No, and I'm not convinced it's really that close. Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan will succeed or fail on the backs (legs/arms) of their starting QBs. If one of those gets hurts, all three of those offenses goes down in a fiery ball of not-so-goodness. Minnesota has an argument to be made that they are in that same boat, but it has yet to be proven if Nelson is quite as good as they hope he is. MSU, Wisconsin, PSU, Illinois, Purdue, and Iowa will have the issue of, "Do we know if the starter is better than the backup really?" So for depth it's Northwestern and Indiana, and while I think Colter and Siemian are both pretty good players who could both take over if one goes down, neither are as fully usable as all three of Indiana's QBs. It's a crazy thing to think about, but Indiana has arguably the strongest corp of quarterbacks, and that is despite getting snubbed by Kiel.
MSULaxer27: Did a MSU fan/Maxwell hater put you up to this question? The Spartan offense was between mediocre, bad, and downright awful last season. To put things in perspective the Spartan defense/special teams allowed just 212 points last year (16.3 ppg) their lowest total in a 12 game season (plus bowl) and their lowest total since the 1989 team (with recent College Football Hall of Fame electee, Percy Snow) allowed 163 in 12 games. Yet the offense only scored 260 on the season (lowest since 2000 under B. Williams - 197) including a 17-16 win over TCU in a bowl game where the starting RB (Bell) had the longest pass completion on the day (29 yards) and more yards total (29) than the starter, Maxwell (28). Many felt that RS Freshman Connor Cook played better in the bowl than Maxwell and deserves the starting nod this fall. So. This gets a little confusing. MSU has Senior Maxwell (who has shown flashes of brilliance but has been largely ineffective), Sophomore Connor Cook, RS Freshman Tyler O'Connor, and incoming dual purpose threat Damion Terry coming in the fall who some feel should earn the starters job (ala Terrelle Pryor or Denard Robinson) when he arrives on campus. As the axiom goes (repeat after me Danny Hope): If you have two QB's you have no QB's...yet MSU has some capable bodies to helm the offense should Maxwell falter.
Graham Filler: Indiana's depth is admirable. It leads us to the question: Is it Wilson? Or the System? Or just a great batch of signalcallers?
Is this the year the Hoosiers go bowling? The schedule certainly sets up favorably: 4 home non-conference games (three at night, which will hopefully boost the crowds to leave the parking lot and actually enter the stadium to cheer for the Crimson and Cream), no Nebraska/Northwestern in cross-overs (arguably two of the favorites for the Legends title, and both probably top-25 ranked preseason), and a slate of winnable home games in B1G play (Penn State in year 2 of the sanctions, Minnesota, woeful Illinois, and Purdue). Do you think the Hoosiers bowl this season? Do you agree the scheduling gods have done Indiana a favor?
Baba O'Really: No. In those financial ads on TV, they say past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results, but I'm going to say it is in this case. They play Mizzou in one of the non-con games, so let's assume they lose that one and win the other three (definitely not a certainty). That means they have to win three conference games this year to get to the Pizza Bowl. I guess it's possible, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Aaron Yorke: Oh I can see it happening. The schedule is set up really well for the Hoosiers, with a lot of winnable home games and four road games that seem like certain defeats. If IU indeed goes 0-4 on the road, that means it has to win six of these eight home matches: Indiana State, Navy, Bowling Green, Missouri, Penn State, Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue. 3-1 in conference and 3-1 out of conference seems doable, but you can so see the Hoosiers blowing it in one of those first three games, can't you?
Ted Glover: Yes. Defense will be better, Tre Roberson will be one of the three best QB's in the conference when it's all said and done, he has a tantalizing freshman in Taj WIlliams to throw the ball to, and the defense is getting a talent infusion. They're running the table in their non-con, they'll beat 2 of 3 of Minnesota/Illinois/Purdue, and they're going to pull off a big upset this year. They don't have the talent on the roster to beat the big boys consistently, but they put the fear of God into them last year. If Roberson had been playing, could they have pulled off the upset? Heck, with Roberson last year you could talk me into them beating Ball State, OSU, MSU, Navy. Suddenly, we're talking about an 8-4 team and a resurgence in Indiana football we haven't seen since Bill Mallory, Anthony Davis, and the mid to late 1980's. The more I look at Indiana, the more I think they're a lot closer to the middle of the conference than they are the bottom.
Can we all chant BEE-ONE-GEE, BEE-ONE-GEE when they beat Missouri? No? Okay, then...
GoAUpher: No, I don't think they make a bowl game this year. I think the defensive holes they are digging out from under are too big right now and while I think they continue to make strides, I suspect they finish the season with 5 wins. If they do surprise folks and pick up that 6th win, the defensive improvements will have made us all take notice. That said, the schedule is about as favorable as you could hope for if you're an Indiana fan who doesn't wear a reversible jacket.
MNWildcat: They likely need to go 3-1 in non-conference and 3-5 in B1G play. I wouldn't be shocked if the Old Oaken Bucket game decided which of Indiana and Purdue goes bowling, but if Indiana finds a horseshoe up its ass against Mizzou, perhaps I put them in the picture with home games against Minnesota and Illinois. They are not, as you suggest, Chad, facing a "winnable" game against Penn State. I would have PSU as a 10-pt favorite.
Jesse Collins: I'd like to think Indiana beats Indiana State and Navy. I'm more worried about then losing to Ball State and Missouri. In fact, there is a strong case to be made for Ball State being the more difficult of those two games. But the scheduling gods were nice. This team is probably losing its road games, so why not load up your four most difficult games that way and have the must-wins at home. I think the Hoosiers come up one win short after losing two in the non con and coming up just short in conference play with three wins.
MSULaxer27:So wait, this year is the last year of the leaders and legends? Or are we moving to East and West and just pretending we have two "ineligible teams" in the East like last season (in Rutgers and UMd)? Favors? I'm not so sure. Conference road games against MSU, OSU, UW, and UM. I guess if you were going to lose to those teams anyway it might as well be on the road (IU last beat MSU in 2006, UW in 2002, OSU in 1988, and UM in 1987). Throw in the fact that the next time IU beats PSU will be the first (this is a "home" game for IU unless they decide to sell the game to Pittsburgh or another area with a large PSU fanbase again). That means the Hoosiers will have to win six of seven out of: Indiana St., Navy, Mizzou, Bowling Green, Illinois, Minny, and Purdue. The last time IU won six games at home was 1993. They did win five games at home in 2007 (last bowl year). Let's just say this year's bucket game may be very, very important for IU's bowl hopes.
Tre Roberson's injury in week 2 last season was gruesome and tragic, depriving us of the chance to see a supremely talented dual-threat QB run Kevin Wilson's exciting offense. While it's impossible, we here at OTE all hope that every B1G player makes it through the season unscathed and without a horrible injury. Give me one player on your team, and one B1G player not on your team, that you'd be most depressed about losing to an injury in week 2, so that all of us can root/pray for their good health.
Baba O'Really: This sounds like some sort of an attempt to put an SI-cover like jinx on a player. Maybe Chad is trying to start an OTE-jinx in order to get more pageviews. I refuse to name a name, because that player would surely get injured.
Aaron Yorke: Penn State was fortunate to not lose Michael Mauti until the penultimate week of the season (coincidentally in a game versus Indiana) last year, and this season I'm going to say that the Lions need Allen Robinson to stay healthy. With uncertainty at the QB position, PSU will need its best receiver to perform even better than he did last year, when he led the B1G with 1,018 receiving yards and 77 receptions. Those numbers will probably go down for Robinson in 2013, but his ability to open up the middle of the field for Penn State's tight ends and to provide the quarterback with a fail safe option on third down will continue to prove invaluable.
Ted Glover: Braxton Miller. Total buzzkill if that happens.
GoAUpher: This seems suspicious. Do you have voodoo dolls already built and now you're just wondering which players you need a lock of hair from? The player the Gophers can least afford to lose in week 2 is Cole Banham. The kid is the team's secret weapon. (Sorry Cole...I'm just playing it safe. You're a great guy and I really hope that my overcaution on the voodoo doll thing proves to be unfounded).
As for opposing teams? Any of the starting running backs at Wisconsin, the orthopedic surgeon in charge of ACL repairs at Purdue, and the coach in charge of convincing running back recruits for Iowa that AIRBHG doesn't exist. The loss of any of the three could prove devastating for each of those programs.
MNWildcat: Northwestern's f'd if they lose Kain Colter. That would be damn near apocalyptic, because we can't be a slashing running team without a slashing QB/athlete. Similarly, OSU without Braxton Miller. Woof.
Jesse Collins: While T.Mart is the easiest pick for the Huskers, I think the reality is far too many 'fans' would think this was a blessing. Those fans are idiots mind you, but it also means that it would not be the most depressing - at least for the fanbase. For me, I'm definitely going Kenny Bell because I think he has a chance to be pretty fantastic this year AND he is by far the most entertaining guy on the Huskers right now. As for someone in the B1G? I'd say Venric Mark because guys that fast and dynamic, especially on ST, are just far too enjoyable. If he were to go down in Week 2, we would all miss out on a lot of fun. My runner-up would be Mark Weisman because bowling ball RBs are the best, but no amount of rooting/praying will probably protect him...
MSULaxer27:This was an easy question last year: Le'Veon Bell. This season I would probably say Senior Max Bullough as he is the closest thing the Spartans have to a coach on the field and it seems the defense is the key to the recent on field success we have had under Dantonio. Other teams have players? I'd say I'd like to see all of UM's starters remain healthy. I would hate for the wolverines to have any excuses for a disappointing season.
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