Honorable colleagues, respected peers, and the rest of the rogue's gallery we call a comments section, today I bring to you the curious case of Indiana football. Much maligned, lightly regarded, and barely respected, the Hoosiers are yet again on the cusp of achieving mediocrity or better, as they seem to be a lot in recent years.
It is with that background that I come before you today to convince you that, yes, 2014 will bring the Hoosiers a season they can be proud of.
I: Case History and Opening Statement
A. Case History
2013. It was a year, and I'm still trying to decide if it's better to remember it or forget it. On the positive side, the Hoosiers improved a win from 2012. They set quite a few school records for offense, and could have set one more if not for Wilson taking the foot off the gas against the Sycamores. They conquered Penn State's undefeated streak, an accomplishment right up there with defeating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. And they brought the Old Oaken Bucket back to Bloomington. On the negative side, 5 wins is still not bowl eligible. The defense stubbornly refused to exist most of the time, most notably against Michigan. Whatever mystical power Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Navy have over the Hoosiers continued rolling along. And the Old Brass Spittoon stayed in East Lansing. And on the downright ugly side, the last series of the Minnesota game happened.
On the whole, 5-7 is disappointing, as bigger things appeared to be in play, but it is still a small step forward. And the more of those IU can get in football, the better.
B. Opening Statement
There's certainly been some turnover for the Hoosiers since 2013 ended. A few mainstays of the last few years, notably Cody Latimer, Ted Bolser, Greg Heban, and Mitch Ewald, are no longer donning the Cream and Crimson due to graduation, the NFL, or both. Another big piece of the puzzle, sometime starter and pretty good running QB Tre Roberson decided that he would rather be a full-time starter somewhere else rather than a sometime starter here, and is now an Illinois State Redbird.
Ordinarily, one of those statements in a given year would spell the death knell for the Hoosiers, and both of them combined would signal that it was time to start searching the coaching ranks for the next 3 year solution. However, in the Kevin Wilson era, that just means it's time to see who steps up. Nate Sudfeld finally takes over as the undisputed #1 QB for the Hoosiers, and despite not being as mobile as Tre, he is much more likely to keep the Hoosiers' big play offense moving with passes to all parts of the field as necessary. The receiving power of Latimer and Bolser will be replaced by Shane Wynn, Nick Stoner, and Isaiah Roundtree, with some assistance from highly touted freshman Dominique Booth among others. Losing Mitch Ewald will be a pain, as it's hard to replace a talented kicker, but the Hoosiers have a trio of freshman ready to fight for the position. The running game is the only spot where a significant change was required or occurred, as Tevin Coleman returns from injury to fully embrace the position he shared with the now-graduated Stephen Houston last season, though he will probably share some snaps with D'Angelo Roberts as a change of pace back.
While there have been encouraging noises out of preseason camp regarding the Hoosiers' defense, trying to offer a season-long prediction for how they will play is fool-hardy at best, and potentially slanderous at worst. The truth is, until we see them competing against the best the rest of the country has to offer, we don't know for sure if this will be the same old swiss cheese defense, or if that group has finally turned a corner and become something more resilient.
A. What OTE Wrote About Indiana This Offseason
B. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture
While I was tempted to put Sharknado 2 here, I felt it would be lazy to do that again (and calling this year's team a sequel leaves quite a few frightening scenarios in play), so instead, you get TMNT:
Like the Hoosiers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a lot more awesome in the late 80s and early 90s, but a flashy reboot has given hope that they may yet be awesome again. (hat tip to Doc1028 and SpartanHT for the suggestion)
C. Timeline of Events
August 30th: vs. Indiana State
September 13th: at Bowling Green
September 20th: at Missouri
September 27th: vs. Maryland
October 4th: vs. North Texas
October 11th: at Iowa
October 18th: vs. Michigan State
November 1st: at Michigan
November 8th: vs. Penn State
November 15th: at Rutgers
November 22nd: at Ohio State
November 29th: vs. Purdue
B1G games in bold
III. Emotional Plea
Being an Indiana football fan is a tortured existence. While we here at OTE like to joke that Illinois can't have nice things, Illinois football boasts many, many, many more nice things than Indiana football does. If you all could see your way clear to allow us to maybe make a return trip to a bowl, or maybe even grant us an improbably impressive win that would actually give us something to hang our hat on, that would be great. Because while having a football team is helpful, it's a lot nicer to have a fond memory of that team that doesn't only reside in the memories of fans lucky enough to be cognizant of their surroundings in 1967. Please. We'll even share our #victorybacon.
IV. The Verdict
In general, it seems like the staff sees what most people see, a team that will finish somewhere between 5-7 and 7-5, with a couple understandable, if not forgivable, exceptions.
|Aaron Yorke||6-6 (3-5)|
|Aaron Rench||7-5 (4-4)|
|Green Akers||3-9 (1-7)|
|Brian Gillis||5-7 (3-5)|
|Ray Ransom||4-8 (1-7)|
|DJ Carver||5-7 (3-5)|
|MC ClapYoHandz||6-6 (3-5)|
|Candystripes for Breakfast||7-5 (4-4)|
|Eric Schulman||5-7 (3-5)|
|Graham Filler||7-5 (3-5)|
|Jesse Collins||5-7 (2-6)|
|Mike Jones||5-7 (2-6)|
|OTE Average||5.4-6.6 (2.7-5.3)|