#71 Indiana 2018 Football Preview

Indiana Hoosiers
Overall Rank: #71
#10 Big Ten
 Indiana Logo
Indiana hoped to make three straight bowls, but fell just short after falling to Purdue in their season finale and finishing 5-7. This year the Hoosiers will have the same goal and, if they can find a quarterback, they should be able to do it.
2017 Record: 5-7, 2-7
2017 Bowl: None
Coach: Tom Allen (5-8 at Indiana, 5-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike DeBord
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Allen
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Morgan Ellison, RB, 7045 yards
Passing: Peyton Ramsey, QB, 1,252 yards
Receiving: Luke Timian, WR, 589 yards
Tackles: Jonathan Crawford, S, 62
Sacks: Jacob Robinson, DT, 4.0
Interceptions: Jonathan Crawford, S, 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Cole Gest, WR Nick Westbrook, OL Wes Martin, LB Marcelino Ball
Key Losses: QB Richard Lagow, WR Simmie Cobbs, WR Ian Thomas, DB Chase Dutra, LB Tegray Scales, LB Chris Covington, DL Robert McCray, DB Rashard Fant
Coach Tom Allen has a lot of options at quarterback. Peyton Ramsey threw for 1,252 yards and ten touchdowns last year, while adding 226 yards and a couple more scores on the ground. Brandon Dawkins is a graduate transfer from Arizona where he threw for 2,418 yards and ran for 1,582 more. Freshman Mike Penix is highly regarded and played well in the spring and he could get into the mix in the fall as well. The receiving corps will look to replace Simmie Cobbs with Nick Westbrook, who missed last season with an injury. He recorded 995 receiving yards in 2016. IU also returns Luke Timian, who caught 68 passes for 589 yards and sophomore Whop Philyor added 33 receptions for 335 yards. With five returning linemen, running back Morgan Ellison should improve on his 704 rushing yards.
The big concern is on defense where eight starters need to be replaced. The unit did play well last year, ranking 27th in the nation in total defense, but it will be difficult to replicate that success. The front line returns tackle Jacob Robinson and will need Niles Sykes to return from injury and be a productive pass rusher. The loss of Tegray Scales and Chris Covington will be felt all season. Those two were tough linebackers who made big plays and there is not much experience waiting in the wings. Marcelino Ball, who plays the Husky linebacker/safety hybrid position, is back after missing most of last season with an injury. He was a big time playmaker as a freshman in 2016. With the return of Ball and four-year starter Jonathan Crawford, the secondary has some nice pieces to build around.
The Bottom Line:
Once again Indiana should hover right around the six win mark. The non-conference slate against Florida International, Virginia and Ball State is manageable and they get Maryland and Purdue at home. Trips to Rutgers and Minnesota are winnable too. If the defense does not fall too far and the Hoosiers can start winning the turnover battle, they will win enough of those games to get to six on the season.
Projected Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 130.1 (105th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 265.7 (35, 3)
Total Offense: 395.8 (70, 6)
Scoring Offense: 26.8 (78, 6)
Rushing Defense: 160.4 (61, 9)
Pass Defense: 179.7 (17, 4)
Total Defense: 340.1 (27, 6)
Scoring Defense: 25.3 (53, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.58 (106, 12)
Sacks: 3.00 (11, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.42 (90, 10)