Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Urgency and missed opportunities
It feels different when you don't know if you're going to get another shot.
Indiana's 2015 season was, by Indiana's historical standards, a rousing success. The Hoosiers bowled for just the second time in 22 years and the 10th time ever. That alone made it somewhat special. They ranked in the S&P+ top 60 for the second time in three years, and unlike the other strong performance (2013), this one included a sixth win. As part of a long rebuild, that's unquestionably a good thing.
But there was probably more than a twinge of regret involved, too.
After a 4-0 start that included a win over WKU that was more impressive than we maybe realized at the time, Indiana lost six games in a row, through varying degrees of heartbreak and late frustration.
- After a 79-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Zander Diamont, the Hoosiers trailed defending national champion Ohio State by just seven points in the fourth quarter. They got the ball back with a chance to tie and had first-and-goal from the OSU 6 with under a minute left. But a false start penalty, two short rushes, and two incompletions ended the comeback seven points short.
- They took a 52-27 lead over Rutgers with 5:25 left in the third quarter, then got outscored 28-0 over the last 20 minutes.
- They trailed eventual Big Ten champion Michigan State by only a 28-26 margin heading into the fourth quarter in East Lansing, then got outscored 24-0 the rest of the way.
- They trailed eventual Big Ten West champion Iowa 21-20 with 13 minutes left, then gave up two touchdowns in seven minutes and fell, 35-27.
- Against Michigan, they took a seven-point lead with just under three minutes left but allowed a 41-yard bomb on third down, then gave up a five-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal with two seconds left and lost in overtime.
That the Hoosiers rallied from this stretch to dominate in their final two games to finish bowl-eligible was impressive, even if it only led to more heartbreak -- in the Pinstripe Bowl, Duke tied the game with under a minute left, then won in overtime when an Indiana field goal attempt went just wide (maybe).
Success or not, this was a season rife with what-ifs. And when you're at a school that hasn't been historically successful, what-ifs ache a little bit longer. You're not guaranteed another shot at beating Michigan and Ohio State in the same season anytime soon. And when you haven't won a bowl in 25 years, losing one hurts quite a bit.
That said, Indiana's progress under Kevin Wilson over the last few years has been undeniable. Over 11 years from 2002-12, the Hoosiers' average S&P+ ranking was 86.9; over the last three years, however, it's been 58.7. 2015 proved that Indiana is not yet deep enough to consistently challenge good teams for a full 60 minutes (instead of just 45), but progress is progress.
Whether Indiana progresses further will depend on the defense. The Hoosiers ranked sixth in Off. S&P+ in 2013 and 19th in 2015; you can't rise too much further than that. But in Wilson's five seasons in charge, they have never ranked better than 91st in Def. S&P+. And after three years with Doug Mallory as his defensive coordinator and two more with Brian Knorr, he's now put former Ole Miss assistant and USF DC Tom Allen in charge of his defense. If the changes take, IU will keep rising. But it's clear what is still holding the Hoosiers back at this point.
|Record: 6-7 | Adj. Record: 8-5 | Final F/+ Rk: 61 | Final S&P+ Rk: 60|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|26-Sep||at Wake Forest||92||31-24||W||68%||87%||+10.1||+3.5|
|10-Oct||at Penn State||47||7-29||L||31%||8%||-10.2||-15.5|
|24-Oct||at Michigan State||9||26-52||L||46%||21%||-13.2||-9.5|
|Points Per Game||36.5||24||37.6||117|
2. One hell of a salvage job
The rebound following the six-game losing streak was indeed impressive. When you've suffered as many setbacks as the Hoosiers, it's easy to fall into a downward spiral. Though one fourth-quarter collapse begot another, IU rarely let a collapse affect the next week's play.
- First 4 games:
Record: 4-0 | 63% (~top 45) | Yards per play: IU 6.8, Opp 6.4 (+0.4)
- Next 6 games:
Record: 0-6 | 47% (~top 70) | Yards per play: Opp 6.8, IU 5.5 (-1.3)
- Last 3 games:
Record: 2-1 | 73% (~top 35) | Yards per play: IU 7.1, Opp 5.6 (+1.5)
An offense that briefly fell apart with Nate Sudfeld hurt, rebounded nicely. (Even with the way Michigan's defense was fading, scoring 41 points and averaging 5.9 yards per play is impressive against that unit.) Meanwhile, a defense hurt by non-stop shuffling in the secondary actually showed occasional hints of gelling.
Adjusting for opponent (per these percentile performances) puts these shifts into perspective. They weren't as dramatic as the plot twists other teams have to deal with, but they were just enough to flip IU from winning close games to losing them.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||44.7%||29||Succ. Rt. +||111.6||28|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||29.0||49||Def. FP+||26.7||13|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.7||44||Redzone S&P+||109.8||36|
|Q1 Rk||62||1st Down Rk||24|
|Q2 Rk||11||2nd Down Rk||20|
|Q3 Rk||21||3rd Down Rk||26|
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Zander Diamont||6'1, 174||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7917||15||31||166||0||0||48.4%||3||8.8%||4.4|
|Danny Cameron||6'1, 210||So.||NR||0.8400||6||16||65||0||1||37.5%|
|Donavan Hale||6'4, 217||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8229|
|Austin King||6'2, 201||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8535|
|Richard Lagow||6'6, 240||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8252|
|Peyton Ramsey||6'2, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8386|
3. A QB-friendly offense
Kevin Wilson has been at the helm of a lot of successful offenses. Teams with Wilson as either a head coach or offensive coordinator (Miami (Ohio), Northwestern, Oklahoma, Indiana) have averaged at least 30 points per game 14 times. He's scored points with blue-chippers, and he's done so without them.
With a full offseason to move on from the loss of quarterback Nate Sudfeld, I'm going to assume IU will be just fine. There's a red flag in the way the Hoosiers played when he was hurt -- the Hoosiers scored just seven points with him out against Penn State in 2015 and averaged just 17.8 PPG when he missed the final six games of 2014. But the replacement in 2014 was an extremely young Zander Diamont, and after Diamont did reasonably well against Ohio State last year, he himself was knocked out of the Penn State game, leaving third-stringer Danny Cameron to get knocked around by the Nittany Lions.
There appears to be no shortage of applicants when it comes to replacing Sudfeld this fall. Diamont is back and far more seasoned than he was two falls ago. Of course, he also missed spring ball with injury, which gave JUCO transfer and one-time Oklahoma State signee Richard Lagow a chance to prove himself. Lagow didn't ace his test, but it sounded like he got a solid B+.
It appears Lagow, Diamont, and Cameron will all have a shot at the job when fall camp begins. If Lagow wins the job, I figure there's a chance that Diamont, with his excellent mobility, will have a chance to carve out a niche in short-yardage. But despite the lackluster non-Sudfeld results over the last couple of years, I really struggle to doubt Wilson when it comes to QB play.
|Devine Redding||RB||5'10, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8478||226||1012||9||4.5||6.5||28.3%||0||0|
|Mike Majette||RB||5'11, 204||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8517||37||181||0||4.9||4.9||37.8%||1||0|
|Zander Diamont||QB||6'1, 174||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7917||15||151||2||10.1||13.0||46.7%||1||0|
|Alex Rodriguez||RB||5'10, 225||So.||NR||NR||12||35||1||2.9||2.9||16.7%||0||0|
|Ricky Brookins||RB||5'8, 193||So.||NR||NR||10||72||0||7.2||11.1||40.0%||1||1|
|Camion Patrick||RB||6'2, 223||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8644|
|Devonte Williams||RB||5'10, 181||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8488|
|Kiante Enis||RB||6'2, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8640|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Simmie Cobbs, Jr.||WR||6'4, 220||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8256||110||60||1035||54.5%||24.7%||9.4||55.5%||48.2%||1.80|
|Ricky Jones||WR||5'10, 184||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7800||95||54||906||56.8%||21.3%||9.5||66.3%||50.5%||1.72|
|Mitchell Paige||SLOT||5'7, 175||Sr.||NR||NR||80||57||684||71.3%||18.0%||8.6||71.3%||56.2%||1.45|
|J-Shun Harris II
|SLOT||5'8, 170||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7733||30||18||168||60.0%||10.1%||5.6||70.0%||N/A||N/A|
|Devine Redding||RB||5'10, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8478||18||12||85||66.7%||4.0%||4.7||38.9%||33.3%||1.33|
|Nick Westbrook||WR||6'3, 213||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8347||11||6||69||54.5%||2.5%||6.3||45.5%||45.5%||1.36|
|Mike Majette||RB||5'11, 204||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8517||7||5||44||71.4%||1.6%||6.3||57.1%||28.6%||2.33|
|Jordan Fuchs||TE||6'6, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8248||7||4||38||57.1%||1.6%||5.4||71.4%||57.1%||0.89|
|Isaac Griffith||WR||6'0, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8222||6||5||54||83.3%||1.3%||9.0||66.7%||83.3%||1.05|
|Danny Friend||TE||6'5, 260||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8425||3||3||39||100.0%||0.7%||13.0||33.3%||100.0%||0.96|
|Luke Timian||WR||6'0, 190||So.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||2||2||51||100.0%||0.4%||25.5||50.0%||100.0%||2.93|
|Marqui Hawkins||WR||6'2, 216||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8707|
|Isaac James||SLOT||5'11, 194||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8563|
|Austin Dorris||TE||6'5, 247||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8320|
|Ian Thomas||TE||6'5, 225||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8138|
|Jonah Morris||WR||6'4, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8813|
|Taysir Mack||WR||6'2, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8311|
4. The only thing missing: run efficiency
If quarterback isn't an issue for Indiana, I can't imagine anything else will. The receiving corps returns last year's top three targets; Simmie Cobbs Jr., Ricky Jones, and Mitchell Paige combined to gain 2,265 receiving yards last year at 9.2 yards per target, and bouncy slot receiver J-Shun Harris II returns after missing 2015 as well. The ranks have thinned at tight end, but that only matters so much in this offense.
Meanwhile, though UAB refugee Jordan Hoawrd is gone after a one-year Indiana career, but the duo of Devine Redding and Mike Majette returns, and at some point, JUCO running back Camion Patrick might join them.
A onetime Tennessee commit, Patrick was ineligible last season, but Wilson raved about him during bowl practices. He then proceeded to tear his ACL in spring ball and will likely miss at least half of the season. But his injury would be a lot worse for IU if the Hoosiers didn't have Redding.
It's not always smart to base too much of a conclusion off of three games, but after struggling with efficiency for most of the season (10 games in, Redding had 511 yards at 3.5 yards per carry), Redding erupted late. He carried 24 times for 130 yards against Maryland, then 22 for 144 against Purdue, then 35 for 227 against Duke in New York. In three games, he nearly doubled his season yardage total.
Redding looks like a high-efficiency bowling ball, but his season numbers last year gave the impression of a lithe speedster. He was dreadfully inefficient -- his opportunity rate improved late but only to a still-awful 28 percent (the national average is 39 percent) -- but showed nice explosiveness. Howard and Majette, meanwhile, were basically the opposite: far more efficient (Howard in particular) but less explosive.
If Redding can at least drag his opportunity rate into the mid-30s, his explosiveness will play. But an inefficient run game will lead to a new quarterback throwing a lot of passes on second- or third-and-long. Not optimal, even with a tremendous receiving corps.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Jason Spriggs||LT||13||47||2015 All-American, 2015 2nd All-Big Ten|
|Dan Feeney||RG||6'4, 310||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8444||13||37||2015 All-American, 2015 2nd All-Big Ten|
|Dimitric Camiel||RT||6'7, 310||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7900||13||17|
|Jacob Bailey||LG||6'5, 295||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8342||7||12|
|Wes Martin||LG||6'3, 310||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8060||6||6|
|Wes Rogers||C||6'4, 305||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8631||0||3|
|Brandon Knight||LT||6'5, 290||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||0||0|
|Delroy Baker||LT||6'6, 305||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8409||0||0|
|Hunter Littlejohn||C||6'3, 295||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8513|
|Simon Stepaniak||RG||6'4, 305||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8442|
|DaVondre Love||RT||6'7, 310||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8094|
|Coy Cronk||OL||6'5, 278||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8644|
|Mackenzie Nworah||OL||6'4, 305||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8472|
|Grayson Stover||OL||6'6, 295||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8458|
5. One All-American gone, one All-American back
The offensive line did a good job of protecting Sudfeld, and Sudfeld helped his own cause with a quick release. Meanwhile, the run stats were ... okay. They weren't terrible, but with two All-Americans (tackle Jason Spriggs, guard Dan Feeney), you might have expected a little better.
Spriggs is gone, but Feeney and four others with starting experience return. The passing game should remain strong, but again, inefficient running could doom Indiana against better defenses, and the line might not be any better than it was last year. It might even be worse without Spriggs.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||43.4%||87||Succ. Rt. +||97.7||70|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||29.4||76||Off. FP+||31.4||32|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.9||108||Redzone S&P+||87.6||113|
|Q1 Rk||108||1st Down Rk||99|
|Q2 Rk||122||2nd Down Rk||94|
|Q3 Rk||30||3rd Down Rk||119|
6. Another defensive reinvention
"I do need that defensive leader to be kind of strong. Sometimes it's your talent -- it's taken us some time to build that. But we've had better talent and depth on offense. If I could go back and do something different, I would have wanted to have had a higher defensive standard." [...]
"I set what's tolerated and what's not, and while we've created an offensive culture, we haven't created a defensive culture. If we can get the defense to start helping the offense, think of how good the offense could be."
-- Kevin Wilson, Blueprint for a Rebuild (2014)
116th, 110th, 95th, 91st, 105th. That's IU's Def. S&P+ ranking for each year Wilson has been in charge. He inherited a unit that ranked 111th the year before his arrival and has engineered only the slightest of improvement. It's why, in two seasons with a top-20 offense (2013, 2015), Indiana went only 11-14.
Former defensive coordinator Brian Knorr attempted to get aggressive with the IU defense, and the approach occasionally paid off. The line produced three players with at least 10 tackles for loss, the linebacking corps had three with at least six, and the top five tacklers in the secondary combined for 8.5 TFLs and 35 passes defensed. But the Hoosiers also gave up 87 gains of 20-plus yards, third-most in FBS.
It's one thing to risk some big plays in the name of efficiency. Its another to achieve only moderate efficiency while giving up more big plays than almost anybody in the country. Injuries played a role in these breakdowns -- only two of the top six tacklers on the line played in all 13 games, and thanks to injuries and shuffling, 15 different defensive backs recorded at least 5 tackles. Fifteen!
Still, Wilson felt the need to make another change. Knorr is out, and Tom Allen is in.
Allen was Dave Wommack's right-hand man at Ole Miss when Wommack was implementing his aggressive, thrilling 4-2-5 defense for Hugh Freeze. The Rebels immediately improved from 55th to 25th in Def. S&P+ in 2012 when Freeze, Wommack, Allen, and company arrived. Two years later, when star recruits were taking over, the defense improved to No. 1 and created a nickname: the Land Sharks.
In 2015, Allen took the USF defensive coordinator job; the results were again immediate: The Bulls improved from 96th in Def. S&P+ to 46th.
Allen is an aggressive coach, preferring for his defense to take the fight to the offense. He inherits a defense that returns almost every member of the linebacking corps and secondary, and with so many defensive back injuries last year, IU now boasts one of the most experienced DB units in the country. But the Hoosiers have to rebuild up front, and while having a good line is important for any defense, it's particularly important for a defense that willingly sacrifices size (extra linebacker) for speed (extra DB) in the back.
I love this hire. But I thought the Knorr hire made sense, too. We'll see what Allen can do with a thin line.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Robert McCray III||DE||6'2, 274||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||11||14.0||1.8%||5.5||1.5||0||1||0||0|
|Ralph Green III||DT||6'5, 320||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8003||12||13.0||1.7%||3.5||1.0||0||6||0||0|
|Greg Gooch||DE||6'2, 257||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8422||12||10.5||1.3%||1.0||1.0||0||0||1||0|
|Jacob Robinson||DE||6'4, 277||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8432||13||5.0||0.6%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nile Sykes||DE||6'2, 252||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8722||12||4.5||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nate Hoff||NT||6'2, 302||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7500||13||4.0||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Patrick Dougherty||DT||6'5, 290||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7947|
|Mike Barwick, Jr.||NT||6'0, 300||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8482|
|Ja'merez Bowen||DT||6'4, 310||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8300|
|Derrian Meminger||DE||6'4, 281||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000|
|Brandon Wilson||DE||6'3, 265||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8473|
|Omari Stringer||DE||6'4, 219||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8271|
|Joe Belden||NT||6'2, 260||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8317|
7. A rebuild up front
All three of last year's 10-TFL linemen are gone, but IU does have at least a couple of experienced pieces. Ralph Green III is enormous and as good as anybody at batting down passes at the line, while end Robert McCray III did manage 5.5 TFLs for himself. They are keepers, and at the least, junior end Greg Gooch isn't totally green.
This line has to hold up if the IU defense is going to improve, and that will mean at least a couple of redshirt freshmen or sophomores playing at a high level. Sophomre end Nile Sykes was well touted in high school, and Jacob Robinson is athletic. There might be a little bit of potential here. But it has to be tapped, post haste.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Marcus Oliver||MLB||6'1, 236||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8009||13||88.5||11.3%||6.5||1.0||2||4||4||0|
|T.J. Simmons||MLB||6'0, 229||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8104||13||53.5||6.8%||6.0||3.0||0||1||0||0|
|Tegray Scales||STINGER||6'0, 227||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8766||11||52.0||6.6%||5.5||3.0||2||4||0||0|
|Clyde Newton||STINGER||6'1, 227||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8182||13||39.0||5.0%||2.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Dameon Willis, Jr.||MLB||6'1, 229||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8342||13||12.0||1.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Chris Covington||STINGER||6'2, 232||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||8||2.5||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Reakwon Jones||MLB||6'2, 226||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8057|
|Jayme Thompson||HUSKY||6'2, 188||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8585|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jonathan Crawford||SS||6'2, 194||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8482||13||62.0||7.9%||1||1||4||1||1||0|
|Rashard Fant||CB||5'10, 174||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8862||13||50.0||6.4%||1.5||0||1||22||0||0|
|Chase Dutra||FS||6'1, 199||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8356||8||49.5||6.3%||4||0||0||2||1||0|
|Andre Brown Jr.||SS||6'0, 196||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8282||9||31.0||4.0%||0||0||0||4||0||0|
|Dawson Fletcher||HUSKY||6'0, 218||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7933||13||21.0||2.7%||2||0||0||1||0||0|
|Tony Fields||SS||5'11, 198||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8435||13||17.0||2.2%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Tyler Green||CB||6'3, 193||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8668||8||15.0||1.9%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jameel Cook Jr.||FS||6'1, 196||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8327||8||13.5||1.7%||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|Kiante Walton||HUSKY||6'2, 215||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8056||2||11.5||1.5%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ben Bach||CB||6'1, 195||Jr.||NR||NR||13||10.0||1.3%||1||0||0||1||0||0|
|Leon Thornton III||CB||6'1, 200||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8622||12||8.5||1.1%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Zeke Walker||HUSKY||6'2, 222||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8155||4||6.5||0.8%||1||0||0||0||1||0|
|Mario Swann||FS||6'1, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||13||6.0||0.8%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Noel Padmore||CB||5'11, 178||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8218||13||5.0||0.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|CB||5'10, 183||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9279|
|Kahlil Bryant||DB||5'10, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8435|
|Brandon Drayton||DB||6'2, 170||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8432|
8. One of the most improved units in the country
It feels odd being this confident in a unit that got torched a lot last season, but here I am. I really think the Indiana secondary will improve dramatically this fall. Rarely does a team have to deal with this many personnel issue in-season, and the resulting experience could pay off. And with this many experienced pieces coming back, this was unintentionally the perfect time to move to a five-DB system!
Corner Rashard Fant is one of the most active corners in the country; he was third in FBS in passes defensed, even if he was only able to hold onto one interception. Meanwhile, Jonathan Crawford picked off four passes as a freshman, Chase Dutra made four TFLs in eight games as a sophomore, and lots of other freshmen and sophomores got their feet wet, too.
South Carolina transfer and former four-star recruit Wesley Green joins the mix as well. The secondary appears deeper at safety than corner, but I'm just not very concerned. If the front line holds up, the back of the defense will do well. (Spoiler: The front line might not hold up.)
|Griffin Oakes||5'10, 200||Jr.||91||62.9||52||2||57.1%|
|Griffin Oakes||5'10, 200||Jr.||53-57||18-20||90.0%||6-9||66.7%|
|Devonte Williams||KR||5'10, 180||So.||10||20.4||0|
|Mitchell Paige||PR||5'7, 176||Sr.||18||11.1||2|
|Special Teams S&P+||42|
|Field Goal Efficiency||31|
|Punt Return Success Rate||58|
|Kick Return Success Rate||116|
|Punt Success Rate||74|
|Kickoff Success Rate||33|
9. Returning your strengths
IU was good at place-kicking, kickoffs, and punt returns and less than good at kick returns and punts. The Hoosiers return their place-kicker (Griffin Oakes), their kickoffs guy (Oakes), and their punt returner (Mitchell Paige) while losing their kick returner and punter.
Perfect! Oakes has a huge leg that he sometimes loses control of, but he makes IU a scoring threat as soon as the Hoosiers cross the opponent's 35. Paige, meanwhile, was a little bit boom-or-bust, but that's not the worst thing in the world when you've got enough booms.
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|1-Sep||at Florida International||113||13.0||77%|
|8-Oct||at Ohio State||14||-16.0||18%|
|Projected wins: 6.0|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-9.2% (80)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||55 / 55|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||8 / 5.9|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||+0.9|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||66% (47%, 84%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||6.8 (-0.8)|
10. All on the defense
The offense replaces quite a bit of production, but a Kevin Wilson offense is rarely bad. The defense returns a ton of production, especially in the back, but a Wilson defense has yet to be good. IU is in a bit of a weird place this year, and quite a range of outcomes is possible. If the new defensive leadership takes hold and the offense holds steady, then IU could win eight or more games this fall. Only trips to Ohio State and Michigan are true, likely losses. But if the offense struggles with turnover, and the defense remains the same, then ... well, there are only about three true, likely wins.
Wilson was one of the best offensive coordinators in football in the 2000s. As Indiana head coach, he's once again proven himself a bright offensive mind. But the defense will define his ceiling, and the length of his tenure, moving forward.