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2013 Closing Arguments - Indiana

Our B1G 2013 series rolls on with Closing Arguments for each team. Today, we stop by Bloomington to hear the Hoosiers plead their case for bowl eligibility, with a little (OK, a LOT of) help from a surprise guest.

Can Cody Latimer lead a high-powered Hoosiers offense to a bowl in 2013?
Can Cody Latimer lead a high-powered Hoosiers offense to a bowl in 2013?
Jerry Schultheiss-US PRESSWIRE

"Anyway, I got some things to do, guys. What do you guys need? ... I don't have time to listen to guys talk about fight songs and Indiana, no tradition, so, uh, the tradition of 2011 is we're working hard, getting ready to go."

-Kevin Wilson, 'Zakk and Jack Show', August 11, 2011

I. Case History/Opening Statement

A. Case History

God bless them; they tried. While the OTE writers last year picked Indiana to finish 3-9 (0-8), Indiana shocked the world (hello, overstatement!) by picking off a terribad Illinois team 31-17 and surviving a slap-fight with a horrible Iowa squad, 24-21. Shame the Hoosiers couldn’t get it done in non-conference: Kevin Wilson’s team is left thinking about what could’ve been after blowing games against Ball State and Navy by 3 and 1, respectively. Add in close calls against Michigan State and Ohio State (WHAT), and the Hoosiers looked like a team growing into Wilson’s system.

Perhaps stunningly, the questions about Indiana football have shifted from "Why should we care?" to "How do they take the next step?" Your Honor, members of the jury, we intend to prove that Indiana not only can, but will be bowl eligible in 2013. To do that, I would like to call Indiana defender Candystripes for Breakfast to the floor:

B. Opening Statement

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, Indiana University has a football team. It may shock many of you to discover that fact. There are even fans of that football team who are not also fans of the football team in South Bend. I count myself as one of that rare breed. Over the course of many, many paragraphs, I intend to convince you that last year’s team suffered from a terrible defense, and this year’s model will improve that side of the ball enough to answer the question "Will Indiana make a bowl this year?" with a resounding "YES!"

Though I hate to dig too deeply into the past, I feel as though I must look back at last season to explain why this one will be better:

Tre Roberson breaks his leg against UMass

(ed note: CfB included the picture of it happening. Gross. Search it at your own peril.)

The 2012 negative:

The obvious incumbent quarterback in 2012, the dual threat that would bring back fond memories of Antwaan Randle-El, lasted fewer than two games into the campaign before he was knocked out for the season, leaving the Hoosiers scrambling to find his replacement. Is there any question that having Tre for the full season might have improved some of the few offensive letdowns we experienced?

The 2013 positive:

Losing Tre forced Kevin Wilson to give game experience to two other solid quarterbacks, Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman. Even this late in the offseason, there is no definite word from Bloomington about which member of this talented trio will start the season under center for the Hoosiers, though Wilson has gone on record saying the offense shouldn’t change much no matter who starts.

IU goes 1-4 in games decided by 4 points or less

The 2012 negatives:

Navy by 1.

Ball State by 2.

Ohio State by 3.

Michigan State by 4.

Only a win against Iowa kept this from being a complete wash for the Hoosiers. Against Navy, we led 30-21 before giving up the game to two failed drives, and a lack of defense in crunch time. Against Ball State, we led 39-38 after rallying from two scores down in four minutes, only to allow a drive with less than a minute left to set up the game winning field goal. Against Ohio State, we again rallied, even recovering the first onside kick attempt, before watching the second one bounce right to the Buckeyes. And finally, after leading Sparty at the half 27-14, we scored 0 second half points and the defense allowed 17 for another loss. The worst part, as a Hoosier fan, is that these 4 losses came in the same 5 game skid, with only the Northwestern loss (and a bye week) between them.

The 2013 positive:

Navy is at The Rock this year. Ball State isn’t on the schedule. And if a year of experience and some talented freshman on the defensive side of the ball like Darius Latham can improve the Hoosiers from being one of the worst defenses in the B1G to even an average squad, those close games might start falling into IU’s win column, rather than everyone else’s.

8 home games, and 4 tough road tests

The 2013 positives:

This one isn’t a look back, this is a look forward. With 8 home games, many of them winnable, if any Indiana team had the chance to go bowling, it should be this one. If we need to pull out one road game to make a bowl, something has gone wrong.

A team on the cusp

Had IU's defense been merely average last year, instead of miserably bad, the Hoosiers could have been bowling. I submit to the jury Exhibit A:

Yards per Points by B1G Team
Illinois 17.65 12.08
Indiana 14.37 13.15
Iowa 16.06 16.65
Michigan 12.84 16.60
Michigan State 17.97 16.73
Minnesota 14.56 14.75
Nebraska 13.25 14.10
Northwestern 12.45 16.94
Ohio State 12.19 15.75
Penn State 14.36 18.61
Purdue 14.90 14.03
Wisconsin 13.30 16.75
League Avg 14.11 15.16

Ideally, teams should be minimizing yards per points scored (YPPS) while maximizing yards per points allowed (YPPA). Indiana was exceeded in this metric for defensive futility only by Illinois. Any sort of increase in YPPA for the Hoosier could correlate to an uptick in wins--this year, one may be all it takes.

But who will do it?

  • The trifecta of QBs: forget about Purdue trying to run with three quarterbacks. All three of Indiana's QBs, Roberson, Coffman, and Sudfeld, are capable of running the IU offense at a high level.
  • Cody Latimer and Shane Wynn: underestimate Indiana's receiving corps at your own peril. These two alone return 119 receptions for 1465 yards and 12 TDs combined. The short, speedy Wynn and highlight-reel Latimer will combine again to torment secondaries. Oh yeah, and Ted Bolser across the middle, forcing linebackers to respect his size and hands.
  • Stephen Houston: the senior RB will be the perfect counterpunch to (insert IU QB here) throwing/running the ball all over the field, looking to improve on his impressive 749 yards, averaging 4.7 per attempt, for 12 TDs in 2012.
  • Senior leadership of LB Griffen Dahlstrom and S Greg Heban: the IU defense enters its third year under Wilson, and two years of awful, awful struggles mean that it's time to put up or shut up. Heban pushed double-digits in tackles three times last year, picked two balls, and has been a reliable cog in the secondary for a Hoosiers defense out to prove itself.

II. Discovery

A. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture

Sharknado Official Trailer (HD) Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo (via movieweb)

Just like Sharknado, #iufb is an event you watch on an out-of-the-way cable channel, expecting to laugh at how terrible it is, and then suddenly, it becomes an internet phenomenon. You heard it here first.

III. Emotional Plea

Indiana football has long been the doormat of the B1G (present failures by Illinois excepted). We haven’t even provided any noteworthy upsets for you to root for in recent memory. But we’re sick and tired of being looked down upon. We’re finally bringing in talent, so if you want to hop on the bandwagon and not be called out for it later, this is your last chance. We start our march here, and when this season ends, we shall once again own the Old Oaken Bucket AND the Old Brass Spittoon, we shall finally return to the postseason, and we shall cheer with joy as Northwestern passes us as the losingest program in the NCAA.

And if none of the above comes to pass, you should at least follow @FakeCoachWilson on Twitter, because that’s what #iufb is really about. #VictoryBacon for all!

IV. Verdict

A. Credit

First, a thank-you to Candystripes for Breakfast for a phenomenal breakdown of IU football for the coming year. That said, will the staff be swayed by his persuasive testimony?

B. The Staff Calls the Games
Writer Record
Jonathan Franz 5-7 (2-6)
Jesse Collins 6-6 (3-5)
babaoreally 4-8 (2-6)
Graham Filler 6-6 (3-5)
Hilary Lee 5-7 (3-5)
Ted Glover 5-7 (1-7)
C.E. Bell 6-6 (3-5)
MNWildcat 6-6 (3-5)
Mike Jones 4-8 (1-7)
Brian Gillis 6-6 (3-5)
GoAUpher 5-7 (2-6)
Aaron Yorke 6-6 (3-5)
OTE Staff Average: 5-7 (2-6)