2013 Indiana Football's 10 things to know: To matter in Bloomington

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Indiana pulled off a rare feat in 2012: a semi-satisfying, encouraging four-win season. Can third-year coach Kevin Wilson patch the holes in the defense enough to ride an absurdly easy home slate to six wins and Indiana's second bowl bid in 20 years? For more on Indiana, visit The Crimson Quarry.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. Moments matter

In the absence of titles, national and conference, we strive for great wins. And in the absence of those, we aim for moments. If nothing else in 2012, Indiana had a moment. In an early-November Numerical, I wrote this following Indiana's 24-21 win over Iowa:

61. Months since Indiana had won back-to-back conference games. The Hoosiers beat Iowa and Minnesota in late-September and early-October 2007, then lost 36 of their next 40 Big Ten games before pulling out wins over Illinois (31-17 on October 27) and Iowa (24-21 on November 3). Kevin Wilson's squad is now 4-5 and, yes, still has a chance of representing the ineligibility-plagued Big Ten Leaders Division. If they can beat Wisconsin at home this Saturday, in their biggest game since who-knows-when, they will actually possibly become the favorites to do so ... at least until they lose at Penn State the next Saturday.

For a week in November, it looked as if Indiana might make it to the Big Ten title game. Sure, it would have been on a technicality (Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible for the postseason). And sure, the feeling lasted only a week before Wisconsin absolutely destroyed the Hoosiers.

But for a week, there was buzz. The last time there had been any hope for quality football in Bloomington was in 2007, when the Hoosiers were making a run to the Insight Bowl. And the last time there had been hope for a conference title in November, no matter the technicalities, was probably 1993, when they entered November at 7-1 (4-1 in conference) and 17th in the polls before dropping heartbreakers to No. 19 Penn State (38-31) and No. 5 Ohio State (23-17) on the road.

It had been a while, in other words. Head coach Kevin Wilson enters his third year on the job with just a 5-19 record to show for his efforts. Granted, the product improved greatly in 2012 (from 1-11 and 105th in the F/+ rankings in 2011 to 4-8 and 74th last fall), but the defense has yet to even threaten to come around -- it ranked 99th in Def. F/+ in 2010 and has ranked 117th and 110th, respectively, in Wilson's first two years; still, the offense has life, and the 2013 team has enough experience to take another solid step forward.

With Ohio State once again eligible for the postseason and Wisconsin still being Wisconsin, the tiny window for a conference title game bid has probably closed for quite a long time, but there are plenty of other, more reasonable and realistic goals on the table moving forward. The first one: six wins.

2. Recruits noticed

There are 62 returnees listed below. One received a four-star rating from Rivals.com. Meanwhile, in Indiana's incoming class of 23 recruits, there are five. Wilson reeled in three of the state's six four-star recruits (a five-star linebacker went to Notre Dame), and four of the top nine recruits overall. That is rather unprecedented. (Meanwhile, in-state rival Purdue nabbed one of the top nine.) And of the five four-star recruits in this class (including players from Florida and Georgia), at least three, and maybe four, will play on the defensive side of the ball, where the most help is needed.

Wilson will need to win more games to keep up this increased pace, but he is raising the ceiling in Bloomington, even if his 2013 squad won't quite be ready to reach that ceiling.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 4-8 | Adj. Record: 5-7 | Final F/+ Rk: 74
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Indiana State 24-17 W 24.7 - 38.4 L
8-Sep at Massachusetts 45-6 W 28.1 - 26.1 W
15-Sep Ball State 39-41 L 27.6 - 23.8 W
29-Sep at Northwestern 29-44 L 35.0 - 43.3 L
6-Oct Michigan State 27-31 L 34.2 - 32.5 W
13-Oct Ohio State 49-52 L 35.5 - 32.5 W
20-Oct at Navy 30-31 L 28.3 - 24.3 W
27-Oct at Illinois 31-17 W 17.7 - 34.5 L
3-Nov Iowa 24-21 W 30.1 - 30.4 L
10-Nov Wisconsin 14-62 L 22.3 - 45.8 L
17-Nov at Penn State 22-45 L 33.0 - 39.6 L
24-Nov at Purdue 35-56 L 28.7 - 47.5 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 30.8 51 35.3 104
Adj. Points Per Game 28.8 59 34.9 112

3. The fade had begun before Wisconsin came to town

The loss to Wisconsin put a humbling set of punctuation marks at the end of Indiana's meager conference title hopes. But after playing at a reasonably average level over the first half of the season, the Hoosiers had already begun to fade as they were beating Illinois and Iowa. (They benefited mostly from the simple fact that Iowa wasn't very good and Illinois was terrible.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 7 games): Opponent 31.6, Indiana 30.5 (minus-1.1)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 5 games): Opponent 39.6, Indiana 26.4 (minus-13.2)

Despite the late, drastic fade, this was a truly interesting, competitive team for most of the season's first two months. The Hoosiers lost by four to Michigan State and by three to Ohio State, and the home loss to Ball State didn't end up looking as bad as we began to learn that Ball State was pretty decent. A 2-4 record in one-possession games prevented the Hoosiers from sneaking out a 6-6 record and bowl eligibility, but there was promise in the Hoosiers' early-season play.

(And yes, part of that promise simply comes from the low bar that Indiana has set in recent decades. Still, as I like to say, improvement is improvement.)

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 34 52 64 43
RUSHING 96 86 92 79
PASSING 17 40 48 40
Standard Downs 51 79 39
Passing Downs 45 48 43
Redzone 24 32 21
Q1 Rk 35 1st Down Rk 44
Q2 Rk 55 2nd Down Rk 80
Q3 Rk 86 3rd Down Rk 72
Q4 Rk 67

4. Kevin Wilson knows offense

From his days as Randy Walker's offensive coordinator at Northwestern to his nine seasons as offensive coordinator (or co-coordinator) at Oklahoma, Kevin Wilson has been both innovative and successful. At Northwestern, he helped to design the modern spread offense, and at Oklahoma, he pushed the tempo in a way that no other team could (until Oregon came along). The odds are good that he is going to produce no matter where he goes.

After ranking 60th in Off. F/+ in Bill Lynch's final season as head coach, Indiana sank to 82nd in Wilson's first season, but with some new pieces in place, the Hoosiers improved to 42nd in 2012, powered mostly by a solid passing game and wonderful redzone efficiency.

Wilson and offensive coordinator Seth Littrell coaxed 311 passing yards and 31 points per game out of a unit made up mostly of unheralded recruits and a revolving door at quarterback. The Hoosiers had high-paced, pass-first offense that distributed the ball well (three players rushed at least 50 times, six were targeted with at least 40 passes), and considering that virtually everybody returns on offense, the production should improve further in 2013. Opponents were able to adjust as a game unfolded (Indiana was 35th in the first quarter, 55th in the second, and worse in the third and fourth), and talent levels will still form a glass ceiling, but there's no reason to think this can't be at least a Top 30-35 offense.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Cameron Coffman 6'2, 203 Jr. *** (5.5) 247 407 2,734 60.7% 15 11 13 3.1% 6.4
Nate Sudfeld 6'5, 234 So. *** (5.6) 51 82 632 62.2% 7 1 4 4.7% 7.2
Tre Roberson 6'0, 200 So. *** (5.6) 33 50 368 66.0% 2 1 1 2.0% 7.0

5. QB vs. QB vs. QB

Granted, the competition level was awful, but in the first two games of the year, Tre Roberson put together some intriguing stats; he completed two-thirds of his passes and showed some explosive running ability. But in the second quarter against UMass, he suffered a gruesome leg injury and missed the rest of the season. In his absence, Cameron Coffman started the final 10 games of the season, and Nate Sudfeld got quite a few snaps as well. Sudfeld produced the better stats of the two, but Cameron maintained his (loose) grip on the starting job through 2012.

And now, Indiana has a bit of a quandary. All three are back, and none of the three really delivered any separation this spring. To no one's surprise, Roberson was a bit rusty, but since he beat out Coffman and Sudfeld a year ago, he could eventually do so again. There are worse things in the world than having two solid backup quarterbacks, but the hope here has to be that somebody seizes control of the job in August.

Combined, Indiana's three-headed quarterback still had a hell of a year: Treron Sudmanson threw for 3,734 yards with 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 61 percent completion rate. Considering the uncertainty and shuffling, that's not bad. Still, one guy separating himself from the others would be a very positive development. Sudfeld and Roberson seem to have higher ceilings (and more remaining years of eligibility).

Whoever wins the job from week to week will have quite a few familiar faces around him. Most of Indiana's skill position players produced at pretty average (or below-average) levels, but in running back Stephen Houston and receiver Cody Latimer, there is a couple of keepers. Houston was explosive in a way that the other runners were not, and while Latimer disappeared at times, he had a few breakout games -- four catches for 115 yards and two scores versus Ball State, four for 97 versus Northwestern, seven for 113 and three scores versus Iowa. For the season, he managed a rare, elite combination of a 79-percent catch rate and 15.7 yards per catch. His upside seems higher than the more frequently-targeted players in the receiving corps (Shane Wynn, Kofi Hughes).

And speaking of upside, if freshman Taj Williams wanted to pretty quickly prove his four-star rating, there is certainly playing time available.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Stephen Houston RB 6'0, 225 Sr. *** (5.5) 161 749 4.7 6.1 12 -3.7
D'Angelo Roberts RB 5'10, 200 Jr. *** (5.6) 83 300 3.6 3.2 3 -11.1
Tevin Coleman RB 6'1, 208 So. *** (5.7) 50 212 4.2 2.2 1 -6.0
Isaiah Roundtree WR 5'11, 195 Jr. NR 33 159 4.8 2.7 1 -0.5
Cameron Coffman QB 6'2, 203 Jr. *** (5.5) 24 64 2.7 2.5 1 -5.9
Tre Roberson QB 6'0, 200 So. *** (5.6) 11 124 11.3 20.0 3 +8.3
Nate Sudfeld QB 6'5, 234 So. *** (5.6) 11 23 2.1 0.9 0 -3.1
Daryl Chestnut RB 5'10, 190 Fr. *** (5.7)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Shane Wynn WR 5'7, 167 Jr. *** (5.7) 95 67 648 70.5% 6.8 18.7% 67.4% 6.9 86.1
Kofi Hughes WR 6'2, 215 Sr. ** (5.4) 81 43 639 53.1% 7.9 15.9% 54.3% 7.8 85.0
Cody Latimer WR 6'3, 215 Jr. *** (5.7) 65 51 805 78.5% 12.4 12.8% 60.0% 12.4 107.0
Ted Bolser TE 6'6, 254 Sr. *** (5.6) 63 41 445 65.1% 7.1 12.4% 60.3% 7.1 59.2
Stephen Houston RB 6'0, 225 Sr. *** (5.5) 49 37 381 75.5% 7.8 9.6% 55.1% 7.9 50.7
Duwyce Wilson WR 6'3, 203 Sr. *** (5.7) 45 23 230 51.1% 5.1 8.8% 55.6% 5.3 30.6
Nick Stoner WR 6'1, 173 Jr. *** (5.5) 27 13 118 48.1% 4.4 5.3% 63.0% 4.3 15.7
D'Angelo Roberts RB 5'10, 200 Jr. *** (5.6) 26 15 152 57.7% 5.8 5.1% 65.4% 6.1 20.2
Jamonne Chester WR 23 17 132 73.9% 5.7 4.5% 69.6% 5.5 17.5
Isaiah Roundtree WR 5'11, 195 Jr. NR 14 6 68 42.9% 4.9 2.8% 71.4% 4.3 9.0
Tevin Coleman RB 6'1, 208 So. *** (5.7) 11 10 71 90.9% 6.5 2.2% 54.5% 5.9 9.4
Ricky Jones WR 5'10, 190 RSFr. ** (5.4) 2 1 2 50.0% 1.0 0.4% 0.0% 0.4 0.3
Anthony Corsaro TE 6'1, 250 So. NR








Kevin Davis WR 5'11, 188 RSFr. *** (5.7)








Taj Williams WR 6'4, 175 Fr. **** (5.8)








Chase Dutra WR 6'1, 190 Fr. *** (5.7)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 92.9 2.80 3.04 32.4% 68.1% 17.3% 162.4 3.1% 3.4%
Rank 100 88 78 118 60 34 22 35 16
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Will Matte C 45 career starts
Peyton Eckert RT 6'6, 295 Jr. ** (5.4) 18 career starts
Bernard Taylor LG 6'2, 303 Jr. *** (5.5) 16 career starts
Collin Rahrig LG 6'2, 281 Jr. NR 13 career starts
Jason Spriggs LT 6'7, 280 So. *** (5.5) 12 career starts
Dan Feeney RG 6'4, 305 So. *** (5.6) 12 career starts
Cody Evers RG 6'4, 305 Jr. ** (5.3) 1 career start
Charlie Chapman LT
Pete Bachman RT 6'5, 288 Jr. *** (5.5)
Ralston Evans LT 6'4, 295 So. *** (5.6)
David Kaminski LG 6'4, 295 So. ** (5.2)
Wes Rogers C 6'4, 300 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Dimitric Camiel RT 6'7, 310 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Jacob Bailey RG 6'5, 300 RSFr. ** (5.4)

6. The line was so young that it's still young

Indiana returns six players with starting experience and five with at least one year's worth of starting experience. That's impressive, but what's even more impressive is that none of the six players are seniors. Last year's rotation featured four-year starting center Will Matte and a ton of freshmen and sophomores.

The quick-passing nature of Indiana's attack resulted in solid sack rates, but while the line was solid at keeping defenders out of the backfield against the run, it failed to produce too many good opportunities for the running backs. (And yes, the backs themselves might have had a role to play in that.) Regardless, there is good seasoning here, and the numbers should improve at least a little bit ... and then a little bit more when, in theory, everybody returns yet again.

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 106 116 103 121
RUSHING 119 103 86 109
PASSING 61 121 114 122
Standard Downs 106 83 118
Passing Downs 120 120 119
Redzone 103 96 107
Q1 Rk 107 1st Down Rk 115
Q2 Rk 84 2nd Down Rk 111
Q3 Rk 123 3rd Down Rk 107
Q4 Rk 101

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 95.0 3.09 4.02 40.8% 62.5% 18.9% 115.1 6.4% 6.5%
Rank 80 89 121 84 30 71 38 18 60
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Adam Replogle DT 12 56.0 7.7% 13 5 0 0 2 1
Larry Black, Jr. DT 12 28.5 3.9% 12 4 0 2 0 1
Ryan Phillis DE 6'3, 260 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 25.0 3.5% 3.5 3 0 0 0 0
Zack Shaw DE 6'3, 253 So. **** (5.8) 12 23.5 3.2% 5 2 0 0 0 0
Bobby Richardson DE 6'3, 275 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 21.0 2.9% 5 2.5 0 1 1 0
Nicholas Sliger DT 11 14.0 1.9% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
John Laihinen DE 6'4, 253 Jr. NR 10 13.5 1.9% 3.5 0.5 0 1 0 0
Nick Mangieri DE 6'5, 261 So. *** (5.7) 10 11.0 1.5% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Javon Cornley DE 8 4.0 0.6% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Adarius Rayner DT 6'2, 300 So. ** (5.2) 7 3.0 0.4% 2 1 0 3 0 0
Alex Todd DT 6'3, 300 So. ** (5.4) 8 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Replogle DE 6'2, 243 Jr. ** (5.4) 10 1.0 0.1% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Ralphael Green DT 6'5, 312 RSFr. *** (5.5)






Jordan Heiderman DT 6'3, 283 Jr. ** (5.4)






Christopher Cormier DT 6'2, 315 Jr. ** (5.2)


David Kenney DE 6'2, 250 Fr. **** (5.8)

Darius Latham DT 6'5, 291 Fr. **** (5.8)




7. Indiana could rush the passer

Indiana's defense was good at almost nothing in 2012. The Hoosiers ranked worse than 100th in every S&P+ category above and was almost the worst defense in the country at preventing big pass plays. This defense had issues too significant for a few new four-star freshmen to magically rectify. But they were strong in short-yardage situations, and they could rush the passer.

Tackles Adam Replogle and Larry Black, Jr., were as active a pair of interior linemen as you're going to find, combining for 25 tackles for loss and one-third of Indiana's 27 sacks. Plus, Replogle had an astounding 56.0 tackles, ridiculously high for a defensive lineman.

8. Help wanted

The problem for Indiana, of course, is that Replogle and Black are both gone. The ends all return, including four-star sophomore Zack Shaw, and a couple of four-star freshmen indeed show up to fill out the rotation. But returning defensive tackles combined for just 5.0 tackles last year, which means the pressure will be on youngsters like redshirt freshman Ralphael Green, freshman Darius Latham, and a pair of two-star junior college transfers -- Jordan Heiderman and Christopher Cormier -- to produce immediately.

Losing your two best players is typically going to be problematic no matter who you are or how good you are, but the loss of Replogle and Black is particularly worrisome, simply because they were just about the only play-makers Indiana had. Linebackers David Cooper and Griffen Dahlstrom combined for a relatively impressive 16 tackles for loss and four sacks, and safety Greg Heban was an occasional wrecking ball (seven tackles for loss, 11 passes defensed), but if Indiana wasn't making a stop in the backfield, the Hoosiers were getting burned in a major way. There just isn't enough talent here yet. The 2013 recruiting class will help immensely, but it will only help so much in 2013.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
David Cooper MLB 6'1, 235 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 68.0 9.4% 9 3 0 3 1 0
Forisse Hardin SLB 6'1, 220 Jr. *** (5.6) 12 39.5 5.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Griffen Dahlstrom WLB 6'3, 235 Sr. ** (5.1) 12 38.5 5.3% 7 1 0 1 1 0
Jacarri Alexander LB 6'1, 240 Sr. *** (5.5) 6 25.5 3.5% 3 0 0 0 1 0
Chase Hoobler SLB 6'2, 240 Jr. *** (5.5) 6 20.0 2.8% 1 1 0 0 0 0
Kyle Kennedy WLB 6'3, 235 So. *** (5.5) 6 2.5 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jake Michalek MLB 6'2, 235 Jr. NR 11 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Steven Funderburk WLB 6'3, 231 Jr. ** (5.4)

T.J. Simmons MLB 6'0, 235 Fr. *** (5.5)







Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Greg Heban S 6'1, 203 Sr. NR 12 79.5 11.0% 7 1 3 8 0 1
Mark Murphy S 6'2, 210 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 59.5 8.2% 3 1 0 2 0 1
Brian Williams CB 6'0, 192 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 50.0 6.9% 0.5 0.5 1 8 0 1
Antonio Marshall CB 5'11, 195 Sr. *** (5.7) 11 32.0 4.4% 2.5 0 2 1 0 0
Kenny Mullen CB 5'10, 184 Jr. ** (5.4) 11 30.5 4.2% 3 0 0 4 0 0
Tim Bennett S 5'9, 190 Jr. NR 11 14.5 2.0% 1 1 0 3 0 0
Drew Hardin S 12 14.5 2.0% 1 0 0 1 0 1
Alexander Webb S 10 12.0 1.7% 1 0 1 0 0 0
Michael Hunter (2011) CB 6'1, 188 So. *** (5.5) 12 11.0 1.5% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Ryan Thompson S 5'10, 198 Sr. *** (5.5) 7 2.5 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lawrence Barnett CB 8 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dawson Fletcher S 6'0, 203 So. ** (5.3) 2 1.0 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Antonio Allen DB 5'10, 205 Fr. **** (5.8)
Rashard Fant DB 5'10, 165 Fr. **** (5.8)






9. The promise of early playing time

One thing Kevin Wilson had to offer, of course, was a direct path to playing time. For four-star Indianapolis native Antonio Allen and Georgia "athlete" Rashard Fant (who might play offense, but I'm guessing ends up a defensive back), that certainly had to be part of the draw. The two could both end up in the immediate rotation if they play reasonably well in August, as could the freshmen on the line.

And lord knows Wilson can continue using the "early PT" line as part of his recruiting pitch for quite a while, even on offense.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Erich Toth 6'3, 196 So. 48 39.5 2 18 7 52.1%
Mitchell Voss 22 37.2 0 9 8 77.3%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Mitch Ewald 5'10, 174 Sr. 68 61.5 31 45.6%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Mitch Ewald 5'10, 174 Sr. 42-43 10-12 83.3% 5-8 62.5%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Tevin Coleman KR 6'1, 208 So. 24 23.6 1
Shane Wynn KR 5'7, 167 Jr. 8 22.5 0
Kofi Hughes KR 6'2, 215 Sr. 4 16.0 0
Nick Stoner PR 6'1, 173 Jr. 13 5.8 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 46
Net Punting 65
Net Kickoffs 37
Touchback Pct 30
Field Goal Pct 45
Kick Returns Avg 56
Punt Returns Avg 96

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug Indiana State NR
7-Sep Navy 87
14-Sep Bowling Green 66
21-Sep Missouri 33
5-Oct Penn State 24
12-Oct at Michigan State 18
19-Oct at Michigan 28
2-Nov Minnesota 72
9-Nov Illinois 94
16-Nov at Wisconsin 16
23-Nov at Ohio State 10
30-Nov Purdue 80
Five-Year F/+ Rk 98
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 52
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -3 / +0.9
TO Luck/Game -1.6
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 19 (10, 9)
Yds/Pt Margin** +1.2

10. A schedule meant for a bowl bid

Of Indiana's obnoxious eight (!) home games, six are against teams projected 66th or worse in the Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, and the other two are against teams that combined for just a 13-11 record last year. If the Hoosiers can just manage minimal improvement on each side of the ball, they could pretty easily end up with six wins and a bowl bid, even if they get blown out in each of their four road games.

Of course, one of those six lowly-ranked home opponents (Navy) beat the Hoosiers last year, and Bowling Green could potentially be the best team in the MAC not named Northern Illinois -- as good as, or better than, the Ball State team that beat the Hoosiers last year. There is still quite a bit of work to be done here, especially considering Indiana had the fourth-worst BCS defense in the country in 2012 (ahead of just Colorado, Duke, and Kentucky).

I do expect Indiana to pull off marginal improvement on both offense and defense, however, and I do figure the Hoosiers reach at least five wins, probably six. Until Wilson can bring in a couple more recruiting classes with the upside of the 2013 class, Indiana's ceiling is going to still be lower than most of the teams in the conference, but the Hoosiers should be good on offense for years to come, enough for Indiana to matter in the college football universe.

Wilson may have won only five games in his first two years, but he's brought some hope to Bloomington. Overall quality aside, that's a hell of an accomplishment.

More from SB Nation:

Loads of SEC Media Days coverage, live from Hoover

Projecting every 2013 college football conference race

Tons of top recruit interviews from SB Nation at The Opening

Bill Connelly’s Pac-12 team preview series is underway

National recruiting coverage

Today’s college football news headlines

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