Bloomington, Ind. – The Indiana Hoosiers will have to fill the hole at the linebacker position left open by the graduation of three starters. To do that, it appears they plan on doing it through depth and a new defensive scheme.
"Since I've been here we've never had a lot of depth at linebacker," said senior linebacker Jake Powers. "With this recruiting class coming in it will be the first time in a long that we'll have a lot of depth and competition at the linebacker spot."
That depth and competition will have to replace starters Kyle Killion, John Pannozzo and Josh Moore. The experience of that trio may be hard to replace for the Hoosiers.
"Killion and Pannozzo are big shoes to fill," said Powers. "They are two of my best friends. I still refer back to them even though they haven't played in this new scheme. I still call Kyle. I even talked to him last night about today's game. I just asked him about coverage schemes and other random questions.
"Having them gone it was weird at first, but it's starting to sink in. I've got set an example and carry on the tradition of being a leader at linebacker. Being the quarterback of the defense, I think leadership is important to have."
The Hoosiers new scheme will be built around speed and versatility – two things Hoeppner has been searching for in his two recruiting classes since coming to Indiana.
Geno Johnson, Adam McClurg, Ryan Marando and Isaac Price have some game experience, while redshirt freshmen Josh Bailey and Dan Kinsey could also contribute this season.
"We still have a lot to learn, but where we are compared to where we started spring ball, we're making big steps," said Powers. "We're starting to understand things a lot more and the younger guys are coming along. It's getting a lot more comfortable.
"We have a lot of talent. Coming into this spring the coaches told us there is going to be competition at every position. There are no names written in pen. They're all in pencil and they can be erased as fast as they were written down. I think that is what is helping us make big steps. I think it's starting to show because the guys are starting to go hard constantly. Nobody's position is secure."
With that young talent, the Hoosiers will move to a new scheme that will feature the group's speed and versatility.
"Without giving too much away, we've pretty much eliminated one of the linebacker positions," said Powers. "We pretty much created a three man up front defense where we have two linebackers on the field that have to be able to run and we have a spin down safety that basically is playing the outside linebacker position. This defense is built on speed. It's a lot of fun to play.
"The defense is fast. It's a Pittsburgh-esque defense, if you will. I think the speed is what will make the defense this season. The phrase ‘speed kills' is something the coaches said to us at the beginning of the spring when they introduced this new defense to us. It's a lot of fun."
The scheme will be built around the success of Powers' senior leadership on and off the field. His career starts may not total a season, but the senior-to-be has shown improvement every season as a Hoosier and is hopefully saving his best for last.
"Starting this spring it's kind of a weird realization for me – now I'm the senior at linebacker," said Powers. "Only me and Casey Nowinski are seniors. As a senior you have to take on more of a leadership role. You don't necessary have to be on everyone all the time, but you have to realize you're going to have a lot of people looking up to you. You have to set an example. It's kind of a cool thing, I like it."
New Scheme For Hoosier Linebackers
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