I began by taking a broad overview of the Indiana football program, what it has done over the last five years and what that might tell us about what the Hoosiers will do this season.
Two weeks ago, I looked at the 2012 Indiana offense and what it projects to look like.
Last week, I looked at the 2012 Indiana defense and how it is shaping up.
This week, I'll look at the Hoosiers specialists, recruiting class, schedule and I'll give a final breakdown as well as my prediction for IU in 2012.
Junior Mitch Ewald is a solid place kicker, having hit 82.9 percent of his career field goal attempts.
On the other hand, his kickoffs have left something to be desired. In 2011, IU ranked third-to-last in the conference in touchback percentage on kickoffs.
Punter and punt returner are wide open.
Finally, IU returns every player who returned a kickoff in 2011. The problem is, those players averaged a third-to-last 19.21 YPR, and that was with one touchdown to bolster the average.
2012 Recruiting Class
The Hoosiers signed 25 players, six of whom were JUCO transfers; all of the JUCOs will play this year.
Last season, Kevin Wilson played 16 of his true freshmen. This year, with so many returning starters, Wilson is likely to have more redshirts.
Among the true freshmen who could see immediate playing time are offensive linemen Dan Feeney and Dimitric Camiel. While offensive line is the position a freshman needs the most time to work his way into, both Feeney and Camiel are already at playing weight, tipping the scales at more than 300 pounds each.
Both could work their way onto the depth chart, given that IU doesn't have any established linemen after the top five.
Indianapolis' Jordan Wallace also could grab playing time as a linebacker. He committed to IU over Pitt, Illinois and a number of MAC schools. The Hoosiers' starting three are probably set, but everything is up in the air after that.
A pound sign (#) indicates must-win for Indiana.
An exclamation point (!) indicates a probable loss.
A dollar sign ($) indicates a swing game.
Sept. 1: Indiana State Sycamores (#)
Sept. 8: At Massachusetts Minutemen (#)
Sept. 15: Ball State Cardinals (#)
Sept. 22: OPEN
Sept. 29: At Northwestern Wildcats ($)
Oct. 6: Michigan State Spartans (!)
Oct. 13: Ohio State Buckeyes (!)
Oct. 20: At Navy Midshipmen ($)
Oct. 27: At Illinois Fighting Illini (!)
Nov. 3: Iowa Hawkeyes ($)
Nov. 10: Wisconsin Badgers (!)
Nov. 17: At Penn State Nittany Lions (!)
Nov. 24: At Purdue Boilermakers ($)
Best-Case Scenario: 6-6 and a bowl bid
In order for this to happen, Indiana needs:
- A clean bill of health for both Tre Roberson and the offensive line.
- Roberson doesn't have to be Robert Griffin III, but he does need to play beyond his years.
- Consistent wins in the field position game via turnovers and special teams.
Worst-Case Scenario: 2-10
In order for this to happen:
- The Hoosiers offensive line and potentially the quarterback would have to be decimated by injuries.
- The defense only nominally improves.
- Indiana moves the ball, but turns it over far too often.
The Season Will Be a Success If...
...IU wins five games, at least one of which at the hands of a fellow Big Ten team. It would be icing on the cake if that team was Purdue.
The IU defense noticeably will improve. In fact, statistically, the Hoosiers could wind up as the most improved defense in the conference, giving up 5-6 fewer points per game than in 2011.
However, that will still leave them as the worst scoring defense in the Big Ten.
The offense also will improve, which will leave the Hoosiers as a more competitive team than last year. As mentioned above, field position and turnovers will be the difference, and I feel that with a young quarterback, they will come out on the losing end of that equation far too often.
I have the Hoosiers going 3-9, with all three wins coming out of conference. However, they will put a scare into Iowa and Purdue.