Bloomington, Ind. – Curious about what Indiana's offense is going to look like in 2007? Look no further than a handful of games from the 2006 season.
During the off-season, the Hoosier coaching staff dissected five games from last season's 5-7 campaign in an effort to tweak and refine what it does on offense. It's not just the five wins or even five losses, but rather five conference games where the Hoosiers were settled from a personnel standpoint and matched up against foes IU figured it was on relatively equal footing with – Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State and Purdue.
"In the off-season you do your quality control and research, we broke it down, and took a look at those five games," said Head Coach Bill Lynch. "What did we do, what did we do well?"
Indiana went 3-2 in those five contests, winning the first three before losing to both Minnesota and Purdue in November. The Hoosiers averaged 31.2 points and 450.6 yards/game in that quintet of match-ups and showed a great deal of balance as well. The ground game produced 174.4 yards/game, while the Kellen Lewis-led aerial attack produced 276.2 yards/game.
"Our numbers were so different in those five games," Lynch said. "So we studied. What did we do? What was in the gameplan, what did we do, why were we so much better? Those are the things we emphasized, and what we worked on in the spring."
One of the notable elements was the ability and commitment to running the football. Indiana averaged 38.8 rushing attempts in those five games and had at least 31 rushes in each contest. In the team's other seven games it averaged only 28.2 carries and 70.6 yards per game.
While the Hoosiers will continue to employ its spread formation and highlight the abilities of quarterback Kellen Lewis and a talented group of wide receivers, the staff knows that it's equally important to utilize the skills of Marcus Thigpen, Demetrius McCray and Josiah Sears at tailback to provide some offensive balance.
"We ran the ball better in those five games," Lynch said. "We ran it better because we ran the ball more."
While each of IU's tailbacks had big games during that five-game span, Lewis was equally involved in the ground attack. Whether it was by design or improvisation, the then-redshirt freshman quarterback befuddled teams with his two-pronged attack.
The end result was an Indiana offense that was unpredictable, one that grew a great deal throughout the course of the season. Now, it's one that the staff is hoping will be even more productive this fall.
The reigns to that offense have been handed off to new Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, who said he doesn't envision any huge changes from a year ago. Instead, it's a matter of emphasizing what worked well, particularly in those five games.
"I think we've evolved as an offense and staff, and we know who we are now," Canada said. "As we look back and study the last games in the Big Ten, we started to produce the yardage and points that we think are necessary to win Big Ten football games."
IU's Road Map to Offensive Success
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