January 15, 2021

#44 Indiana Hoosiers

HOLY HOOSIERS!!! Indiana had their first eight-win season in 26 years, TWENTY-SIX-YEARS…

Ok, ok…let’s get serious now. Indiana is in the Big Ten, so no prayer of a legit championship run. They will always be the little brother that gets picked on and pushed around.

Indiana Hoosiers 2020 schedule (projected 6-6, 3-6 Big Ten) – *BOLD is projected wins

Sept. 4 at Wisconsin

Sept. 12 Western Kentucky

Sept. 19 Ball State

Sept. 26 at Connecticut

Oct. 10 Maryland

Oct. 17 at Rutgers

Oct. 24 Michigan State

Oct. 31 Penn State

Nov. 7 at Ohio State

Nov. 14 Illinois

Nov. 21 at Michigan

Nov. 28 Purdue

Offense

New offensive coordinator, Nick Sheridan, has his work cut out for him this season at the quarterback position. He has Michael Penix Jr. (110 of 160 passes for 1,394 yards, 10 TDs and 4 INTs) returning for the Hoosiers and Penix is wanting to take the program to the next level. But…then there are those pesky injuries. The last seasons, have seen Penix missing parts of the season due to injuries. Sheridan will have a four-star transfer from Utah, Jack Tuttle, ready to back up Penix just in case. And lets be honest, nobody expects Penix to play the entire season. Tuttle was brought in to take advantage of that and make the most of a golden opportunity. Lets see how Sheridan handles keeping the controversy out of the program and get the most out of his quarterbacks. This could end badly.

Image credit: Doug McSchooler, Indy Star

Steve Scott III will be back in the backfield again this season to carry the load for the Hoosiers. In 2018, Scott III rushed for 1,137 yards and 10 TDs. 2019 was not as kind to Scott III with only 845 yards, but he still found the endzone 10 times for the Hoosiers.

Receiving is not a worry at all for the Hoosiers. Indian’s receiving group is easily top five in the Big Ten. Senior Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle are back for one last explosive season together. Last season Philyor had 70 receptions for 1,002 yards. Fryfogle caught 45 passes for 604 yards, giving Indiana a legit 1-2 combo. PLUS, TE Peyton Hendershot, who set a single-season Hoosier record for a tight end, with 52 catches for 622 yards.

Indiana’s front line will all depend on of their three returning starters can get their two new, young and inexperienced additions up to speed and in rhythm, making them a well oiled machine.

Defense

Things are a little more solid on this side of the ball, with the return of nine starters. Well, ad solid as it gets facing high scoring programs like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan or of course…THE OHIO STATE.

Head coach Tom Allen relinquished play-calling duties to defensive coordinator Kane Wommack last season. Which led to the Hoosiers allowing 71.6 fewer yards and 5.5 fewer points per game. Giving Hoosier fans high hopes that the defense will keep the games close and give the offense opportunities to get some unexpected victories.

Creating depth on the front line might be an issue, but having returning starters DE Michael Ziemba, DE James Head Jr. and DT Demarcus Elliott to build around will not. This trio will give the Hoosiers a solid defensive line and a solid foundation for Allen’s preferred 4-2-5 alignment.

The Hoosier linebacker group is a very key strength to this defense. Micah McFadden led this defense in tackles in his first year as a starter. He is a tough and determined as they come. Next to him, Cam Jones, creates turnovers and causes issues for the oppositions with his speed and knack for getting to the ball.

With the secondary no longer a weak area for the Hoosiers, this team can focus on the ground game. Sophmore Tiawan Mullen has proven to be as good of a cornerback as anyone in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers will have experience at safety with Juniors Devon Matthews and Jamar Johnson.

Special Teams

With very little room to make mistake for a team like Indiana in the Big Ten, special teams are critical. Charles Campbell will be taking over kicking duties this season. P Haydon Whitehead will be returning for a sixth season, after getting a waiver for medical hardship.

Final Thought

Indiana is in a tough position, always a good solid team, but stuck playing in the toughest conference. Even though the Hoosiers are only a 6-6 type of a season, Indiana will play every team hard, down to the final whistle and will be the toughest .500 team any program will play all season.