Last week, I got my feet wet with Indiana, looking at the program, what it has done over the last five years and what that might tell us about what the Hoosiers will do this season.
This week, I'll look at the 2012 Indiana offense.
2011 scoring offense: 21.4 PPG (10th in the conference), total offense: 360.4 YPG (eighth), rushing YPC: 3.93 (11th), passing efficiency: 111.91 (10th)
Average scoring offense conference ranking over last five years: 7.8
Best scoring offense conference ranking over last five years: third (2007)
Worst scoring offense conference ranking over last five years: 10th (2008)
Returning starters: QB Tre Roberson, RB Stephen Houston, WR Kofi Hughes, WR Jamonne Chester, TE Ted Bolser, C Will Matte, OL Collin Rahrig, OL Bernard Taylor, OL Peyton Eckert
Open Positions: OL, WR
Offensive formation: Spread
Offensive philosophy: Up tempo
Passing scheme: Big play
Rushing scheme: Zone read
Head coach Kevin Wilson runs an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Like any spread offense he is looking for mismatches. Moreover, like any up-tempo offense, he is looking to maximize his possessions and wear the defense down.
His offensive coordinator from 2011, Rod Smith, has left Bloomington to take the OC job at Arizona.
In effect, Wilson hired former Arizona coordinator Seth Littrell for the job.
The only difference between this season and last season might be more of an emphasis on a possession passing attack.
Otherwise, it will be more no huddle, coaches calling audibles from the sidelines and a lot of men in motion, with the goal being to catch the defense off guard.
Last season, true freshman Tre Roberson ascended the depth chart and started the Hoosiers final five games. They lost those five games, but they lost six of their seven other games as well.
More to the point, IU averaged 22 points per game in Roberson's starts compared to 21 points per game in the previous seven contests.
Roberson finished the year having completed 57 percent of his passes for 937 yards, three touchdowns, six interceptions and a 110.99 passer efficiency rating. He also rushed for 426 yards, two touchdowns and 3.91 YPC.
Roberson may have the tools to be another Antwaan Randle El, but his passing game will need another year of polishing before he is ready to be anywhere near as dangerous as the former Indiana signal-caller.
Due to Roberson's seeming lock on the starting job, all of the other Indiana quarterbacks have transferred out of Bloomington. Consequently, Wilson signed JUCO quarterback Cameron Coffman. He, along with the true freshman Nathan Sudfeld, will be the only quarterbacks on the roster besides Roberson.
This is an issue because Roberson is a dual-threat quarterback that is listed as just south of 190 pounds. There is potential for injuries there, and that is a recipe for trouble with only Coffman and Sudfeld on the bench.
On the bright side, according to Indiana blog Crimson and Cream, Coffman had a good spring game and "could make things interesting in the quarterback battle."
One of the more pleasant surprises of the Hoosiers' unpleasant 1-11 season was the emergence of JUCO transfer Stephen Houston.
The sophomore finished the year with 802 yards, 5.31 YPC and eight touchdowns. Only one team (Ohio State) held him to fewer than three yards per carry. Houston also had 17 receptions for 164 yards.
It is difficult to fully assess Houston's productivity, given that many of his yards came against opponents' second-team defenses. For example, he racked up 135 yards and 7.11 YPC against Wisconsin, but the Hoosiers lost 59-7.
That said, he will be a solid starter for IU, and the three sophomores behind him—D'Angelo Roberts, Matt Perez and Isaiah Roundtree—will make for able backups.
Somehow, Indiana regularly has sub-par defenses, offensive lines and running backs—and overall lousy football teams—but it manages to field quality receivers. It must be the basketball lineage. This season will be no exception if the returning receivers live up to their potential.
The Hoosiers return all but three players that caught a pass last season.
The best of the bunch is Kofi Hughes, who had 35 catches for 536 yards and three touchdowns. Also, tight end Ted Bolser had a strong season, posting 14 receptions, 165 yards and one touchdown.
The other notable pass catchers include juniors Jamonne Chester and Duwyce Wilson; and sophomores Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer.
Each of the above posted more than 12 receptions last season. Expect their productivity to go up in 2012, now that they have had one year in Wilson's offense, as well as a more experienced quarterback to get them the ball.
Especially look for Wynn to make some waves, as he is the slot-receiver type that Wilson covets, and got so much out of at Oklahoma in the form of Ryan Broyles.
Veteran center Will Matte will anchor the offensive line, which paved the way—or failed to pave the way—for second-worst Big Ten rushing offense (YPC) in 2011. It also allowed the fourth-most sacks in the conference.
Joining Matte will be sophomores and returning starters Collin Rahrig, Bernard Taylor and Peyton Eckert. All three are small—average weight of 279 pounds—but that is what Wilson is looking for, as his line does not need to dominate.
Fellow sophomore Cody Evers will be in the mix for the open spot. He is bigger than his linemates—304 pounds—but got extensive playing time last season, including one start.
There isn't much depth after the top five. The only notable upperclassman is junior Charlie Chapman.
Part of the issue last season was installing head coach Kevin Wilson's no-huddle offense, which is particularly hard on offensive linemen. Another issue was a quarterback carousel that finished with a true freshman starting the final five games of the season.
There should be improvement on the line, as long as the starting five can stay healthy. How much improvement there will be remains to be seen, as—no matter the head coach—Indiana has never been known for its play in the trenches.
Next season, the Hooisers have the players and experience to improve dramatically from 2011's offensive showing.
This is especially true when one considers they were learning a new, and physically demanding, offensive system. A year in that system—even with new terminology via a new OC—will help this group considerably.
The issue concerns depth, particularly on the line and at quarterback.
If Roberson and the line stay healthy, expect the offense to move from the bottom of the conference to middle of the pack. In effect, expect the offense to do enough to hang with all but the best of the conference's defenses.
If there are injuries, expect a number of struggles and what might seem to be a step backwards for Wilson's young program.
Coming next Tuesday, an overview and breakdown of Indiana's defense.