The Indiana football team is looking forward to proving that it is a team that shouldn’t be overlooked this season.
IU opens its season against Indiana State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.
The Hoosier defense has a lot prove this season after finishing No. 120 (out of 123 schools) in total defense in the FBS in 2013. The Hoosiers surrendered an average of 527.9 yards. Only Idaho, California and New Mexico State gave up more yards per game.
The Hoosiers also allowed 38.8 points per game.
Senior defensive end Bobby Richardson said IU needs to dominate both sides of the ball this season.
“We’ve got quotes all around the building ‘start fast, finish strong,''' Richardson said at Monday's availability. "Last year we left them off the hook at the end and they started scoring, so this year we got to finish strong.”
Richardson said that the Sycamores’ style of play will match up favorably for the Hoosier defense and will also be a great test for the defensive line.
“They have a lot of varieties of things they like to do,” Richardson said. “We want to see where we can dominate at the beginning. We’re really excited to play them.
“Word on the street is that they’ve been working on a lot of power. So we’d like to smash the run game. They have a lot of tempo, and that’s what we’ve really been working on, so we can test our advantages.”
The offense also has some questions to be answered in its season opener, as the unit lost its two leading receivers and starting tight end. Senior wide out Isaiah Roundtree said that one thing this year’s group is looking to prove is that they are more physical than many believe.
“We’re going to show we’re not just a finesse team,” Roundtree said. “We really want to physically dominate the game, put up a lot of points, make a lot of defensive stops and dominate special teams.”
Fellow senior receiver Nick Stoner agreed with Roundtree while crediting the strength staff for improving the strength of the team all offseason.
“The strength staff did a great job getting us stronger this offseason,” Stoner said. “We’re not just small, finesse guys, we’ve really all grown in our strength and our physical toughness.
“One thing coach Wilson really emphasizes is playing physical. We hit a lot in camp just to build that physical toughness that’s not natural.”
The entire team is ready to go for Saturday’s opener, and senior center Collin Rahrig said that they have the desire to go out and have a great season more than previous seasons. But it all starts on the practice field, an area where Rahrig has seen improvement since he was a freshman.
“We’ve got a lot of motivation,” Rahrig said. “A lot of guys that are game ready compared to what it used to be. There’s a lot more competition at practices, you can just see the speed of the game has changed where it’s a little bit quicker in practice. So hopefully we can translate that from the practice field and bring it to games.”