IU Insider Blog: How good is IU?

The hype this time of the year is always about the same. Could this be the year that Indiana football turns the corner? As always, we'll know a lot more about this IU football team this time tomorrow.

Here's the bottom line: We'll know a lot more about Indiana football this time tomorrow. On Friday morning, things will be a lot more clear in our understanding of what to expect.

For now, in the short term, Game day has arrived.

There's a lot of excitement building for Indiana University football.

But to add a word of caution, it seems like there's always that same feel in the air about this time of the season.

I remember going back to when I covered Indiana football beginning in 1998, that it just seemed like there was always a lot of optimism early.

In those early years it was provided by guys like Antwaan Randle El and Levron Williams. You just felt if the Indiana defense could ever progress to the point where it could consistently stop opponents that IU had a good chance to win six or more games and get bowl eligible.

But the Hoosiers could never turn the corner.

When Gerry DiNardo was the coach, I remember in 2004 when IU went on the road and beat Oregon in Eugene thinking that perhaps IU was about to arrive. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was in the backfield and Courtney Roby was running routes. Matt LoVecchio seemed like a capable quarterback.

But then the bottom fell out. IU would lose eight of its final nine games. There was the debacle to close the year at Purdue where IU got beat 63-24 and IU athletic director Rick Greenspan felt he needed to make a change. That led to the hiring of Terry Hoeppner.

Again with Hep there was a good feeling as IU won four of its first five to open the 2005 season. But then six losses in a row to end that season had IU back in a tough spot. Then came Hep's health issues and a tough 2006 season. That year IU got to within one game of bowl eligibility with three to play but losses to Minnesota, Michigan and Purdue to end the season had IU on the outside looking in once again.

In 2007, IU rode the emotion of ‘Play 13' for Hep after his passing which led to a bowl appearance with Kellen Lewis, James Hardy and Tracy Porter and company. But the next season IU was 3-9 again and the program continued to struggle.

So here we are at the start of the 2013 season and it seems like optimism is high once again. Kevin Wilson is in his third season and the Hoosiers seem to have much better personnel and kids that want to play it Wilson's way. And that's clearly more than half the battle.

And that's all good. But the time for talking is behind the Hoosiers. It's time to do it on the field. It's time to take that next step. We had our season predictions by both myself and the AllHoosiers.com staff this week. Everyone picked IU to be bowl bound at the end of the year.

Wishful thinking? Maybe. With this program's track record you could certainly make that claim. But perhaps this will be the year that Indiana football turns the corner, too.

We'll know a lot more after tonight.

We'll likely know which quarterback will get the majority of the snaps. We'll know if the defense has improved over the one that allowed Shakir Bell to run for 192 yards against the Hoosiers last season. We'll know if this is indeed a better offensive line and an offense with tons of weapons. We'll know if IU is capable of putting a ton of points on the board.

The most interesting thing will be if the early optimism for Indiana football is still there at this time tomorrow. If that's the case, that will be a clear starting point. If IU struggles against a program like Indiana State, though, then that will clearly be cause for concern.

Bottom line is this time tomorrow we'll know a lot more about Indiana football.

Stay tuned.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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