Expected to Start
<Mitch Ewald/RS SR/5-10/174
Eric Toth/RS SO/6-3/204
Eric Toth/RS SO/6-3/204
Ewald is as steady as they come in the place-kicking department. He's tied for third on IU's career list with 44 field goals, fourth with 105 extra points and sixth with 237 total points. More importantly, he's IU's all-time leader in career field goal percentage at 80 percent. He's 44-for-55 in his career.
Toth and redshirt freshman Nick Campos have had a good battle in camp but Toth has emerged for now as the starter. He took over the punting duties in week 5 last season as a freshman and had a 39.5 yard average in 48 punts. He had seven punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
In the Two-Deep
Aaron Del Grosso/FR/5-10/192
Nick Campos/RS FR/6-0/190
Mitchell Paige/RS FR/5-7/176
The backup placekicker is a position you hope you never have to find out who is there but Del Grosso is a solid prospect. He's a true freshman from Hobart. As for the punter spot, both Toth and Campos battled back and forth in preseason camp with the returning starter, Toth, getting the early nod. But Campos could definitely get a shot at a couple of punts, especially early in the season.
Help on the way
IU has 10 commitments in the class and nobody yet at the kicker position but that could change. IU is giving Mishawaka Marian kicker Michael Farkas a good look. Farkas visited IU recently during preseason camp. He's also considering Ball State..
Patton wears many hats for the Hoosiers. In his first season at IU, Patton is the special teams coordinator, the recruiting coordinator and an assistant on the defensive line. He joined the staff on Feb. 11, 2013. He spent the last seven seasons as an offensive line coach at Oklahoma and prior to that was at Northwestern, Miami of Ohio and Rhode Island.
With Ewald, IU has a steady kicker with good range. In 24 career Big Ten games, he has made 29-of-35 attempts, 82 percent. And he has proven he can kick long field goals, too. From 45 yards and beyond, Ewald is 8-for-12 in his career. His long was 49 yards both as a freshman and a sophomore. He has only missed one of 106 extra point attempts.
What needs to improve?
The biggest improvement needs to come in the punting game. Toth averaged 39.5 yards per kick last season but his long was just 51 yards. He consistently needs to be able to boom kicks of 50 yards or more from time to time and average in the low 40's.
Kevin Wilson's take on the unit.
"(Erich) Toth and (Nick) Campos are very competitive but inconsistently competitive, show kicks of being good, then the next day I'm off and the next guy is good,'' Wilson said. "Need that punter to be a little bit more consistent. We've got leg there, needs to be better. Our kicker (Mitch Ewald) has a chance to be a quality player.''
The players and coaches weigh in, too
Half of the kicking duo is as steady as they come. The other half continues to be something that is going to keep The Voice of the Hoosiers, Don Fischer, awake at night. (That's an inside joke). Ewald is the kind of kicker who has the ability to win Indiana a few close games. The Hoosiers just have to hope that the lack of a big leg from their punter doesn't end up serving as the great equalizer there.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch.