#72 Indiana Football 2017 Preview

Indiana Hoosiers
Overall Rank: #72
#11 Big Ten
After the dismissal of Head Coach Kevin Wilson, Indiana promoted defensive coordinator Tom Allen. The system should remain the same on both sides of the ball and the Hoosiers will look to build off a decent 2016 season. IU did not get many impressive wins last season, but they did not get blown out very often either and were generally competitive against the top teams in the Big Ten.
2016 Record: 6-7, 4-5
2016 Bowl: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Utah (L 24-26)
Coach: Tom Allen (0-1 at Indiana, 0-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike DeBord
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Allen
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tyler Natee, RB, 237 yards
Passing: Richard Lagow, QB, 3,362 yards
Receiving: Nick Westbrook, WR, 995 yards
Tackles: Tegray Scales, LB, 126
Sacks: Tegray Scales, LB, 7.0
Interceptions: Rashard Fant, CB, 3; Jonathan Crawford, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Simmie Cobbs, OL Coy Cronk, DB Marcelino Ball, S Tony Fields, DL Nile Sykes, DB A’Shon Riggins, K Griffin Oakes
Key Losses: RB Devine Redding, QB Zander Diamont, WR Ricky Jones, WR Mitchell Paige, OL Dan Feeney, LB Marcus Oliver
The Hoosiers running game took a step back last season, but the offense should remain very potent. Quarterback Richard Lagow threw for 3,362 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and will again be a very dangerous threat downfield. However, Lagow did throw 17 interceptions as a junior and that number needs to improve. Nick Westbrook and Simmie Cobbs are a couple big play receivers. Cobbs missed last season with an injury, but caught 60 passes for 1,035 yards in 2015. With Cobbs out, Westbrook had a big 2016 campaign, catching 54 passes for 995 yards and six scores. With a year of experience in the system for Lagow and a couple big time playmakers out wide, the passing game should be very dangerous. It would help if the ground game could improve on last year’s numbers when they ranked 11th in the Big Ten in rushing offense. Devine Redding left early for the NFL after rushing for 1,122 yards last season and there could be a running back by committee approach this year, which is not something we have seen at Indiana for quite a while. Tyler Natee is a big, bruising change of pace type of back, but it would be ideal if somebody could emerge as the featured back. Camion Patrick is an interesting option after spending most of his collegiate career at wide receiver, but he is a shifty playmaker.
The defense returns nine starters to a unit that finally has enough talent and depth to make IU fans excited. After vast improvement across the board last season, the expectations are growing quickly. Up front three starters return to a unit that did a good job of getting into the backfield. Linebacker Tegray Scales will spend plenty of time in the backfield too. On top of his 7.0 sacks and 23.5 tackles-for-loss, he led the team with 126 tackles. He will be joined by Marcelino Ball, who is coming off a superb freshman campaign. With the return of T.J. Simmons, who missed last year with an injury, the linebackers are in great shape. The secondary will be led by cornerback Richard Fant. He broke up 17 passes last season, including three interceptions. With fellow cornerback Andre Brown and safeties Jonathan Crawford and Tony Fields also returning, IU has plenty of experience in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
When the run defense is strong, the Hoosiers can beat anybody. They certainly have the offensive firepower to do it. However, for the offense to be at its best, they need to be able to run the ball consistently and keep the turnovers down, especially in the red zone. Indiana starts the season off with a Thursday night game against Ohio State. On opening day, that is a very intriguing matchup that the Hoosiers will be ready for. After a few non-conference games, the Big Ten slate remains very difficult until Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue finish up the regular season. IU may have to win all three of those games to finish the year with six wins.
Projected Bowl: Heart of Dallas Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.2 (92nd in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 273.8 (28, 2)
Total Offense: 426.0 (56, 3)
Scoring Offense: 25.8 (88, 8)
Rushing Defense: 160.4 (53, 10)
Pass Defense: 219.7 (53, 12)
Total Defense: 380.1 (45, 9)
Scoring Defense: 27.2 (57, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.46 (104, 12)
Sacks: 2.54 (31, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (78, 8)

Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#245 Juwan Burgess