#15 Indiana Football 2021 Preview

Indiana Hoosiers
Overall Rank: #15
#3 Big Ten
 Indiana Logo
Indiana will look to again shake up the Big Ten East. Last year the Hoosiers went 6-1 in Big Ten play. It was that one loss that garnered the most national attention for Indiana though when quarterback Michael Penix threw for 491 yards in a 42-35 defeat at Ohio State. Now Coach Tom Allen and company are expected to continue that success and be a serious contender for a Big Ten title.
2020 Record: 6-2, 6-1
2020 Bowl: Outback Bowl vs. Ole Miss (L 20-26)
Coach: Tom Allen (24-22 at Indiana, 24-22 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Grant Heard
Defensive Coordinator: Charlton Warren
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tim Baldwin, RB, 141 yards
Passing: Michael Penix Jr, QB, 1,645 yards
Receiving: Ty Fryfogle, WR, 721 yards
Tackles: Micah McFadden, LB, 58
Sacks: Micah McFadden, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: Jaylin Williams, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Sampson James WR Miles Marshall, TE Peyton Hendershot, DB Devon Matthews, DB Tiawan Miller, DB Reese Taylor, LB Cam Jones, K Charles Campbell
Key Losses: RB Stevie Scott, WR Whop Philyor, DB Jamar Johnson, DL Jerome Johnson
Penix threw for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions in just over five games. He missed the Wisconsin and bowl game with a knee injury. An important part of Penix’s game is his mobility so it will be important for IU that Penix is fully healthy. Ty Fryfogle is back after averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. In total he caught 37 passes for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. Miles Marshall is another big play threat and Peyton Hendershot is a big target at tight end. The ground has been disappointing over the last two seasons and now Stevie Scott III has moved on. That leaves Tim Baldwin and Sampson James as the main returning rushers. Baldwin averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2020, but it remains to be seen if he can handle a larger workload and keep up that pace.
The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in sacks and that could be the case again in 2021. James Head Jr. and Michael Ziemba are quality defensive ends and linebacker Micah McFadden led the team with 6.0 sacks. McFadden does a lot more than just get to the quarterback though; he also led the team with 58 tackles and is a great leader in the middle of the defense. Cam Jones will man the other linebacker spot. Tiawan Mullen has developed into one of the best corners in the Big Ten. Jaylin Williams had the ball thrown his way quite a bit and often made the opposition pay for it. Overall, this will be a good defense that can make life very difficult for the rest of the Big Ten.
The Bottom Line:
The season begins with a very intriguing road game at Iowa. The next conference game comes a month later at Penn State. With a very good Cincinnati team coming to town in-between, it would not be a huge surprise if IU started the year 2-3 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play. But this group is obviously talented enough to start 5-0 as well and then they will be eyeing the October 23rd contest against Ohio State with the Big Ten East potentially on the line.
Projected Bowl:  Citrus Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 108.6 (114th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 250.9 (43, 5)
Total Offense: 359.5 (94, 10)
Scoring Offense: 28.9 (59, 4)
Rushing Defense: 137.1 (34, 5)
Pass Defense: 241.0 (75, 10)
Total Defense: 378.1 (43, 5)
Scoring Defense: 20.2 (19, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (10, 3)
Sacks: 3.12 (15, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.25 (16, 1)