There’s no mistaking the identity of the Indiana Hoosiers football program under head coach Kevin Wilson. Simply put, offense rules the day.
However, heading in to 2016 the Hoosiers offense faces its first real challenge under Wilson. Gone is a record-setting quarterback, a 1,200-yard rusher and an All-American left tackle.
It will be a real test of just how well the Hoosiers have been able to recruit and build up the skills of those players it has brought to Bloomington, Ind. So, let’s take a look at just how this offense will likely look come the season opener.
How do you replace a record-setting quarterback like Nate Sudfeld? Perhaps the bigger question is if the Hoosiers system makes the quarterback numbers rather than the other way around. The debate will likely get answered in 2016, as the long-time starter, Sudfeld is gone.
Depth behind Sudfeld has been a concern over the past two years, as Zander Diamont was thrown in the mix way too soon in 2014 and just didn’t have it in 2015. That meant reaching out to the JUCO ranks, where Wilson found big-armed Richard Lagow.
In fact, if you looked at the measurables of Lagow and Sudfeld, the difference is minimal — with Lagow coming in at 6-6, 240 pounds.
Lagow impressed enough in spring to lead the race to start come the fall, but the race is far from over thanks to the intriguing play of sophomore Danny Cameron (the son of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron).
Every indication through summer workouts indicates that the younger Cameron continues to get better and may really push Lagow if he can’t be more consistent with his play. Watch for this job to be Lagow’s, but don’t be surprised to see Cameron earning snaps throughout the year at some point.
As for Diamont? It appears the coaching staff would like to redshirt the smaller quarterback so he can concentrate on improving his body and staying healthy himself. All of it likely setting up an interesting scenario next offseason.
IU is used to surviving the loss of a talented running back these days, something it couldn’t say early on in the Wilson era. After losing 2,000-yard rusher Tevin Coleman in 2014, the Hoosiers lost 1,200-yard rusher Jordan Howard early to the NFL draft as well.
That’s okay though, as they bring back 1,000-yard rusher Devine Redding in 2016. The junior tailback got to that 1,000-yard mark on 226 carries, but this season there isn’t another high-caliber running back to help ease the load and real concerns over Redding’s ability to carry over 300 times in a season are there.
Concerns mainly exist because the Hoosiers don’t exactly know what they have in terms of game-ready depth on the roster heading in to 2016. Sophomore Mike Majette was the third leading rusher last season, but only saw 37 carries for 181 yards on the season.
There’s also intriguing JUCO transfer Camion Patrick, who is a physically imposing back at 6-2, 223 pounds. He didn’t play in a single game as a sophomore last season, but was offensive scout team player of the year. Patrick did show plenty of athletic ability in JUCO though, catching 42 passes for 631 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014 and had nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards.
Building that depth and a solid rotation is key to giving Redding a real chance to use his explosive ability to all of its advantage in 2016. Without it, it could be a very interesting season for a team who has become more and more reliant on a big-play running game to ease pressure on a great passing attack.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
As many questions as there are at quarterback, Indiana has no such issues at wide receiver in 2016. It has a trio of varied and equally talented pass catchers in junior Simmie Cobbs and seniors Ricky Jones and Mitchell Paige.
That trio combined for 171 receptions, 2,625 yards and 15 total touchdowns last season alone. Having that kind of production and experience should certainly help any quarterback look good.
Indiana isn’t just full of senior talent at the position either, as sophomores Nick Westbrook and Luke Timian saw enough snaps to know they could be productive in this offense as well. That experience will be helpful in 2016, but vital down the line.
Tight End will be the key concern in the pass catching area this season, as both of the top players at the position graduated. Leading the way in 2016 will be junior Danny Friend, who saw action in four games and had three catches for 39 yards in limited playing time. At 6-5, 260 pounds, Friend could be a handful for opposing offenses to deal with in both the passing and running games, a dimension that wasn’t totally there in 2015.
Sure, All-American left tackle Jason Spriggs is gone, but this line is far from devoid of talent. In fact, it will be led by potential All-American guard Dan Feeney to begin with. Feeney is on the Outland Award watch list already and is likely to be on plenty of more preseason lists before it is all said and done.
Replacing Spriggs would be a huge challenge at most schools, but the Hoosiers are in love with his replacement, sophomore Brandon Knight. There’s reason for that, as he was named to the Honorable Mention All-Freshman team by BTN.com after finding playing time in 11 games at both tackle and tight end. His athleticism adds a new dimension to a stout offensive line.
Senior center Wes Rodgers may not jump off the page, but his experience over the past few years should help ease the loss of Garrett Clark.
Rodgers and Feeney are just one half of an offensive line that will see four seniors as likely starters. Lining up in between Knight and Rodgers on the left side is senior Jacob Bailey and rounding out the O-line is right tackle Dimitric Camiel.
This group has lofty numbers to try and live up to, as IU became the first offense in the Big Ten to lead the conference in total yards, scoring offense and passing offense since Ohio State did in 1995. It also is a group that allowed just 13 sacks last season, seventh best in the entire country.
With all the experience back, this group should really help ease any concerns around the development at QB.
Our Projected Starters
WR: Simmie Cobbs, Jr.
WR: Ricky Jones, Sr.
WR: Mitchell Paige, Sr.
LT: Brandon Knight, So.
LG: Jacob Bailey, Sr.
C: Wes Robinson, Sr.
RG: Dan Feeney, Sr.
RT: Dimitric Camiel, Sr.
TE: Danny Friend, Jr.
QB: Richard Lagow, Jr.
RB: Devine Redding, Jr.
Indiana Hoosiers 2018 Season Review: The good, the bad and the ugly
The bowl games are known, the College Football Playoff committee continues to screw with the Big Ten and programs across the country are in reflection mode.
So, we’ll join them in taking a look back at the 2018 season in-depth. That starts with an honest assessment of the good, the bad and the ugly that took place this year.
For the Indiana Hoosiers, there’s no bowl game like many were thinking would happen. So, that means the time for reflection in certainly now.
What happened to a season many thought would see the Hoosiers head to a bowl game? A disappointing 5-7 campaign is what happened and we’ll try to get to the bottom of the why here for you.
Need we say more? Probably not, but let us expound on the breakout star of the season for the Hoosiers.
Scott finished the year 4th in the Big Ten in rushing, racking up 1,137 yards on 228 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns to his name as well.
Just how vital was Scott to the Hoosiers success? His 228 carries were the second-most of any running back in the Big Ten this year. Imagine where Indiana would be without him? It’s a frightening thought.
Indiana’s next step can’t come without a better defensive performance. This was supposed to be the strength of the head coach, but you can make a really solid argument that since becoming the head man the defense has taken a turn for the worse.
No example of that is better than the lack of production from the Hoosiers pass defense.
Indiana finished 11th in the Big Ten in pass defense, giving up an average of 240.6 yards per game. That’s a massive drop from last season, were IU was 4th in the Big Ten last year in passing defense, giving up just 179.7 yards per game.
You may be able to chalk some of it up to players who were off to the NFL or the real world thanks to graduation, but this is a program that should be building enough depth to sustain a loss or two at any position. Losing one Rashad Fant shouldn’t mean the entire group gives way.
This was also a pass defense that gave up a B1G-worst 27 passing touchdowns to just 13 interceptions on the season. Something has to change here given the pass-happy offenses that permeate the Big Ten East division these days.
Earlier on we mentioned the name Stevie Scott. One could argue he was the only good piece of news for this offense in 2018.
Ignore the fact that Indiana’s pass game was third in the conference by the numbers (and yes, I’m a numbers guy). Were those numbers because of pure quality or quantity? Indiana also finished third in the B1G in passing attempts on the year as well.
The Hoosiers also complied just 257.8 yards per game through the air with Peyton Ramsey at quarterback. Indiana was also third in the league in passing offense last season, but averaged just about 10 yards per game more.
In fact, the analytical numbers bare the fact that it was really the run game that was the difference this year. With a solid run game, the Hoosiers offense went from 98th to 72nd in the country in S&P+ offensive rankings.
While Ramsey threw for more than 2,800 yards this year, he also had a touchdown to interception ratio of 19 to 13 — not exactly killing it.
It is a bit baffling because it isn’t like there is a dearth of talent at wide receiver or anything. Names like Simmie Cobbs and Nick Westbrook are quality receivers that most teams would love to have in the mix.
Neither of those names were the one to lead the team in receptions either and only one of the teams receivers finished in the top 10 of the conference in receptions and that was Luke Timian, who had 46 receptions for just 422 yards and not a single touchdown.
That should tell you all you need to know about how misleading the passing game stats were for the Hoosiers in 2018.
Growth from the passing game is needed if this offense and this team want to get back to a bowl game. We’ll see if they have that ability in 2019, as it’s a make-or-break year for head coach Tom Allen.
*all stats courtesy of CFBstats.com unless otherwise noted.
Predicting the 2018 Indiana Hoosiers season game-by-game
As the 2018 college football season enters the first real week, it’s time to lay everything on the line for the Indiana Hoosiers. For us at talking10 that means it’s time to go game-by-game and give you how we see the season playing out.
The annual tradition continues, but with a new twist. This year we’re going video format as we re-launch our YouTube page. So, how does our talking10 kingpin, Andrew Coppens, see the 2018 Indiana Hoosiers season playing out?
Let’s take a look:
Don’t forget to subscribe to the talking10 YouTube page. We’ll have video breakdowns and commentary all throughout the 2018 football season. You don’t want to miss it.
Can Illinois or Indiana’s QB change spark either program?
We’ve nearly hit the halfway point for some teams in the Big Ten, and that means time for plenty of reflection. Two programs have done plenty of that over the past week, as both Illinois and Indiana have gone in different directions with their starting quarterbacks.
Earlier this week, Illinois announced that Jeff George Jr. would be the starter. It was a move few didn’t see coming given the anemic production of the Illini offense with Chayce Crouch at quarterback.
Indiana wasn’t far behind, as head coach Tom Allen revealed redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey would become the sole quarterback to play going forward. It ended four weeks of a two-quarterback system in place.
Both decisions seems smart on paper, but which one will make the biggest impact on their team?
Case For Peyton Ramsey:
Sometimes you win the job out of necessity and some times you win the job because you’ve outplayed everyone else. For me, the latter is true for Ramsey.
One of the most undertold stories of this season has been Indiana’s struggles in the pass game. Everyone saw them carve up Ohio State’s defense for over a half and assumed all was good. Well, Lagow has been ineffective and Ramsey has added a different dimension to an offense trying to find an identity.
To date, Ramsey has split time with Lagow in four games. He’s completed 60.4 percent of his pass (besting Lagow’s 56.3 mark) for 316 yards (6.6 yards per attempt, compared to 6.4 for Lagow). In just 48 attempts this season, Ramsey has equaled Lagow’s TD number at 4, while throwing just one interception.
Throws like this one to Simmie Cobbs for an 18-yard TD is the spark and kind of performance Ramsey can produce:
With an offensive line in flux, Lagow’s immobility has shown to be a big issue. He’s got the arm, but it really isn’t any good when you are under pressure and can’t move? Lagow’s got minus-30 yards on the season, meanwhile Ramsey is second on the team with 117 yards on 34 carries in his limited time on the field. That’s good production for a team searching to get back to the wild offensive numbers they are used to putting up.
A spark is needed, but so is consistency more than anything. Ramsey provides both and for a Hoosiers team that has a ton of talent around him, this should be the calming influence needed to help this team get to a bowl game.
That’s especially the case when you notice how Allen and his teammates respond to his mentality on and off the field.
“It’s more collective. It was really just this game. It was more of a buildup over time,” Allen said earlier this week, via Indiana’s Scout website. “We love both guys, awesome people. … There’s just a grit to (Ramsey), a toughness to him. He’s got a linebacker mentality to how he works.”
Case for Jeff George Jr.:
Illinois is in the middle of a youth movement on both sides of the
George also isn’t a first time starter. He played starter last season, being inserted in to the toughest of road situations possible — a freshman on the road at Michigan. That experience can be helpful for sure, and something George Jr. brought up in talking to the media this week.
“I’m excited to go out there and try to make something happen and try to get this offense rolling. I think I can do my part,” George Jr. said, via IlliniInquirer. “I feel like I know how tough it is to win a game. We went through some ups and some downs last year and now nothing is new.”
There’s also the fact that it did seem as if his connection with the likes of Malik Turner, Mike Dudek and Co. was better than Crouch’s was.
Look, something had to happen, because with Crouch at QB the Illini offense became as one-dimensional as Minnesota’s offense often was with Mitch Leidner behind center the past two years. It didn’t work well for the Gophers, and with a defense still figuring out who it is for the Illini, that would’ve been disastrous the rest of the way.
This is also a great opportunity to showcase George Jr. against the toughest of competition. He’ll go up against a schedule that includes Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin still to go.
Head coach Love Smith seems to be going with a sink or swim mentality to this team — pushing younger players to the brink to see if they respond or fold. Putting George out there as the starter the rest of the way is more of that, and it may be that the rest of his teammates respond to that idea more than they did with Crouch.
Final Verdict: Peyton Ramsey
This one is easy for me. Ramsey has more weapons to work with in the form of wide receivers like Simmie Cobbs and Luke Timian in the fold. He also has a decent running back in freshman Morgan Elison, who is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has 310 yards in four games so far this season.
As for Jeff George Jr.? Sure, he’s got the same freshman running back with potential as Indiana does, but he’s not set up for success like Ramsey is. Mike Dudek is a weapon and Malik Turner can be good…but Turner has also been inconsistent to say the least.
George also has a bigger body of work, and that body of work suggests a pretty average quarterback at best. He’s completing just 43.1 percent of his passes for 681 yards and five touchdowns to seven interceptions in five games played in his career.
Call me crazy, but those numbers don’t inspire me.
Let’s see who can play better, but if there’s someone who has already shown the ability to succeed under pressure, that has been Ramsey. I’ll take his numbers, situation and moxie over George any day of the week.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview: Welcome to the Big Ten in Week 1
The 2017 season kicks off with a Big Ten matchup for the first time in years. Join us as we preview the Buckeyes vs. Hoosiers.
When: Thurs., Aug. 31; 8pm ET
Where: Bloomington, Ind.; Memorial Stadium (52,929)
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 72-12-5
Last Meeting: Ohio State win 38-17 (2016)
Welcome officially to the 2017 college football season my fellow Big Ten nuts out there. There couldn’t be a more perfect way to start the season than by hitting the ground running with some B1G football, and that is exactly what we get on Thursday night as the Ohio State Buckeyes and Indiana Hoosiers collide in Bloomington, Ind.
This game may not be a marquee matchup, but it is a Big Ten game and there are plenty of storylines all around this one. We’ve got ex-Indiana head coach turned Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson against his old team. We’ve got two quarterbacks with a lot to prove entering their senior seasons and a whole cast of new characters on the Buckeyes sideline.
We’ll start to get answers to a lot of big questions, but let’s kick our preview off with a look at the most burning question entering this game.
1 Burning Question: What offenses will we really see?
Indiana and Ohio State provide plenty of intrigue, you know, with the whole Kevin Wilson as co-OC vs. his old team and all that. But, the biggest question burning in my mind is just what both offenses will actually look like in Week 1.
Will the Hoosiers keep the offense that Wilson laid the foundation for or will we see some wrinkles? What about Wilson’s influence on Urban Meyer’s power-run version of the spread offense. That isn’t exactly Wilson’s cup of tea and it appears that the passing game is going to be critical to success for the Buckeyes in 2017.
So, if you’re watching this game, keep a close on just how different or not these offenses are for the 2016 versions we saw. Whichever one either adjusts best or executes the old version best is likely to come away the winner on Thursday night.
2 Key Stats
21: That is Ohio State’s current winning streak against the Hoosiers.
Ohio State has beaten up on a lot of teams over the years, but few have been beaten up as bad as the Hoosiers have been. Even with the resurgences of the IU program to respectability, it hasn’t changed the fact that they can’t seem to beat the Buckeyes ever. Indiana’s last win in the series came back in 1988, a 41-7 beat down of the Buckeyes. Why is that relevant to this game? Well, that win also took place in Bloomington, Ind. and a 21-game win streak is long for anyone, including the Buckeyes.
152.2: That was Indiana’s rushing average per game in 2016.
It also happens to be a low-water mark for a program that became one of the Big Ten’s best rushing attacks over the course of the previous three seasons. Last season showed that the depth that was once there had become depleted. Even with 1,000-yard rusher Devine Redding in the mix, the Hoosiers slipped to 11th in the Big Ten in rushing. While the passing attack will always get the big attention, the silent and deadly run game needs to return in Bloomington for the Hoosiers to have success.
3 Key Players
Mike Majette, RB (Indiana): Why is a guy you’ve likely never heard of so vital to the cause for the Hoosiers? Well, one of the best-kept secrets to the Hoosiers rise under Kevin Wilson was the ability of the run game. From 2013 to 2015, the Hoosiers ranked no worse that fourth in the Big Ten in rushing offense. Last season saw a dramatic falloff as Jordan Howard left for the NFL draft and the Hoosiers were just 11th in the Big Ten in rushing. Majette played in just eight games, but put up a healthy 4.6 yards per carry in his sophomore season. If the Hoosiers want to win tonight, Majette needs to be a star and right now, that is a big question mark.
J.T. Barrett, QB (Ohio State): If you would’ve told me that we haven’t seen J.T. Barrett win a Heisman Trophy following his freshman season, I would’ve thought you were crazy. Yet, Barrett hasn’t lived up to the potential shown in his first season. Now, we have Barrett working with a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. All the talk this offseason has been how Barrett can improve as a pocket passer and as a true dual-threat quarterback. Will Wilson’s influence on the offense be a spark for Barrett or has he hit a ceiling? With Indiana’s improving defense, he will be tested tonight.
Damon Arnette, CB (Ohio State): Sometimes there is nothing like being thrown in to the deep end of the pool. While Arnette got game action in his freshman season — making 21 tackles and picking off one ball — there’s a difference between being a bit player and “the guy.” Arnette steps in to starters role for the first time and he’ll likely have the biggest test of the season going against quality names like Simmie Cobbs, Nick Westbrook and Donavan Hale. Can he pass this test early on? If not, it could be dangerous news for the Buckeyes hopes in 2017.
The Buckeyes defensive line is scary good, but the rest of the team is a bit suspect in terms of experience heading in to the opener. While there is a ton of potential and recruiting talent, let’s see it on the field. Personally, I believe the OSU defense has a scare put in to them for the first half of the game at the very least. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Hoosiers putting up 17 points in the first half before being shut down after adjustments are made at halftime.
This will be best Memorial Stadium atmosphere ever: Perhaps atmosphere and Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. don’t always go hand-in-hand (unless you’re talking about one of the worst in the Big Ten).
Score: Ohio State 34, Indiana 17 (Listen here for more on the game).