2012 Program Preview - Indiana

Indiana WR Kofi Hughes laughs at your whole "running on the ground is faster than jauntily galloping along but a few inches above the pastures" idea. Fool. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Well, it's always darkest before the dawn, right? Indiana fans are likely clinging to that as the mantra after a 1-11 season.

Obviously when you finish with a record that dismal, it's tough to find many silver linings that deaden the blow. But there's nowhere to go but up under second-year head coach Kevin Wilson. With a big recruiting win in nabbing California-based QB Nate Sudfeld, there are at least a few reasons for the Hoosier faithful to stay hopeful.

Still, it's going to take more than just one solid prospect to turn things around. While the non-conference schedule is as easy as you'll find, Indiana needs to snag a couple Big Ten wins in the next few years to help them out of the conference cellar.

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

The Crimson Quarry (SB Nation Indiana community), Off Tackle Empire (SB Nation conference community), SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Ted Bolser TE RS Jr. 7
Stephen Houston RB RS Jr. UD
Duwyce Wilson WR RS Jr. UD
Kofi Hughes WR Jr. UD (potential riser)


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Larry Black DT RS Sr. 7
Adam Replogle DT Sr. UD
Chase Hoobler OLB RS Soph. UD


Summary

Things look pretty thin along the roster right now. The Hoosiers offer some decent receiving threats, though there isn't enough talent at QB to make the most of them. Indiana went through three QBs looking for a starter last year, and none really stuck. The first two have since transferred, and the third (Tre Roberson) certainly didn't lock up the job. With Sudfeld and juco transfer Cameron Coffman having joined the program, Roberson may well be watching the offense in the 1st quarter after a few weeks if not in week one.

Key games

Ball St. (home) - Week 3 (Sat., Sep. 15 - 8:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

You can't assume anything with Indiana's three opening games: Indiana State, Massachusetts and then Ball State. Still, it's hard not to envision IU going 2-0 to start the year. It would do the Hoosiers a world of good to get their revenge for a season-opening loss to Ball State in 2011.

Purdue (away) - Week 13 (Sat., Nov. 24 - TBD)

Indiana certainly didn't get the easiest conference schedule this year. If there's an in-conference win to be had, my guess is it's the season-capping Purdue game. They nearly beat Purdue last year to close out their 2011 slate; with questions at QB (this is my obligatory Robert Marve mention) and no clear movers at WR and a D-line that has some question marks inside of Kawann Short, this is my candidate for the one B1G game Indiana might be able to steal.

Key matchups

WRs Duwyce Wilson & Kofi Hughes v. Michigan St. CBs Johnny Adams & Darqueze Dennard, Week 6 - Sat., Oct. 6

The Spartans have the best secondary, IMO, in the conference. Both are likely to stay through the 2013 season, so there's time to impress. Still, they would do themselves a world of good with a strong performance at home against MSU this year.

DTs Larry Black & Adam Replogle v. Wisconsin OL Travis Frederick & Ryan Groy, Week 11 - Sat., Nov. 10

Indiana's defensive strength starts on the inside of their defensive line. With some things left to shake out on the Wisconsin O-line, it looks like that could be the case for the Badgers as well. Frederick was a standout young guard in 2011, but moves inside to center this season to replace Peter Konz, now an Atlanta Falcon. Groy, on the other hand, found three starts at guard and one at center last year; his position looks to be set at the left guard spot right now. They'll be a handful for Black and Replogle if all are still healthy by November.

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