Opponents preview: Indiana defense

Part three of BadgerNation.com's 3-part look at the 2005 Hoosiers

Indiana's defense was among the worst in the nation last year against both the run and the pass. The Hoosiers have decent talent at defensive end and have a very good player in linebacker Kyle Killion. There are also a couple of true sophomore corners to get excited about. But this looks like another rough, rough season for IU's defense, or lack thereof.

2004 by the numbers

Total defense: 453.2 yards allowed per game (No. 110 nationally); 442.6 yards allowed per conference game (No. 11 Big Ten)
Scoring defense: 31.2 (88); 32.2 (11)
Passing defense: 256.5 (102); 253.0 (11)
Passing efficiency: 135.5 (89); 141.4 (11)
Rushing defense: 196.7 (99); 189.6 (10)
Touchdowns allowed: 43 – 25 passing, 18 rushing; 33 – 19 passing, 14 rushing (11)
Third-down defense: allowed 43 percent on 67 of 157; 43.9 percent allowed on 50 of 114 (8)
Turnovers gained: 19 – 11 interceptions and 8 of 19 fumbles (80); 9 – six interceptions and three fumbles (10)
Net punting: 38.2 (18); 37.7 (4)
Kick coverage: 18.6 (25); 20.0 (3)
Punt coverage: 7.03 (26)

Defensive line analysis

The Hoosiers are strong at end with four-year starter Victor Adeyanju and three-year starter junior Kenny Kendal (6-foot-3, 260 pounds). The latter will have a battle on his hands this fall with senior Ben Ishola (6-3, 250). But with a team-best 5.5 sacks last season, to go along with 8.5 tackles for loss, Kendal is a pretty decent pass rusher. Ishola has some talent too, so expect the duo to each receive considerable playing time.

Adeyanju (6-4, 270) has been productive in his 33 consecutive starts with 104 tackles and 19 tackles for loss. He could be a better pass rusher, but he was second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss last year.

The tackle spots will be a work in progress. Senior Russ Richardson (6-0, 260) started five games last season and should return to the starting lineup this fall. He will likely be paired with 6-2, 300-pound redshirt freshman Greg Brown, a converted offensive lineman. The top reserve tackles include sophomore Joe Kremer (6-2, 295) and redshirt freshman Charlie Emerson (6-5, 265).

Linebackers analysis

Kyle Killion (6-0, 230) is a highly productive player who could be a star on a better team. He is the rock solid player in a back seven with a lot of questionable talent.

Killion started all of 2004 at middle linebacker and earned second-team All-Big Ten kudos, but will move to the outside in Hoeppner's aggressive scheme and could be even more involved in the action. That is saying something, considering Killion was fourth in the conference in tackles for loss with 16.5 last season. He was also second at Indiana with 107 stops, five sacks and two interceptions and he led the team with two fumble recoveries.

Killion started the first three games as a true freshman in 2002, but a knee injury hampered him and he ended up playing in seven games, with four starts. He came back the following year and started all 12 games, leading the team with 97 tackles. In 30 career games he has 232 tackles, 27 for loss, seven sacks, three interceptions and five fumble recoveries.

IU lost its starting weakside linebacker when Paul Szczesny transferred to Arizona State. As a result, Jake Powers (6-1, 225), who started five games each of the past two seasons, will line up at an outside linebacker spot this year, opposite Killion. Powers had 44 tackles in 11 games in 2003 and 22 in 11 games last year.

Replacing Killion at middle linebacker is John Pannozzo (5-11, 230) who started the past three seasons at fullback.

The top reserves are senior Josh Moore (6-1, 225) and redshirt freshman Greg Weeks (6-1, 225) on the outside and redshirt freshman Ryan Marando (6-2, 240) in the middle.

Secondary analysis

The defensive backfield was atrocious last season. It has to get better with three starters returning, right? Just Indiana's luck, the one missing starter is free safety Herana-Daze Jones, who led the team with 110 tackles, including five for loss, and also had two interceptions and five pass breakups.

On the bright side, his replacement, senior Will Lumpkin (5-10, 205), is experienced. Lumpkin has played in 23 games in three seasons, including seven starts. He opened 2003 as a starting safety before an injury sidelined him. And he started four games at strong safety last year, contributing 29 tackles. Lumpkin actually scored two touchdowns last year, one on a 42-yard interception return and another on a 74-yard fumble return.

The strong safety will be Aaron Mitchell, a 5-11, 195-pound sophomore who started 5 of 7 games as a true freshman last year and chipped in 25 tackles. Junior Will Meyers (5-11, 205) will also press for playing time at safety. He was seventh on the team with 33 tackles last year. Meyers has 19 games and nine starts under his belt.

Yet another player whose season was cut short by injury was cornerback Tracy Porter (5-11, 180), who started the first seven games as a true freshman last year. When he went down with a shoulder ailment, another true freshman, Leslie Majors (5-9, 165), took his place.

Porter made 22 stops, including 19 solo, and led the team with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a 96-yard touchdown. He was named to The Sporting News Big Ten all-freshman team.

It will be difficult for IU to keep Majors off the field. He rescinded a redshirt after Porter went down and made 38 tackles in four-and-a-half games to close out the season. He was sixth on the team in stops and second in pass breakups with eight. He reportedly has run a 4.25 40-yard dash.

Senior cornerback Buster Larkins (5-11, 185) returns to the starting lineup, where he has been for 22 of 35 games the past three seasons, including all 11 last year. Larkins has 112 career tackles, including 83 solo. He also has picked off four passes and broken up 13.

In addition to Meyers and Majors, the top reserves are junior safety Troy Grosfield (6-0, 190) and redshirt freshman corner Chris Phillips (5-11, 170). Senior cornerback Damien Jones (5-10, 185) started 10 games in 2002 with 55 tackles and a team-best three interceptions. But he did not play in 2003 and only saw action in seven games last year, making eight tackles.

Special teams notes

Indiana's special teams were among the better units in the nation last year and a big part of that equation was junior punter Tyson Beattie (6-2, 206), a native of Australia. Beattie's 41.3 yards-per-punt average does not exactly jump off the stat sheet, but in two years as the Hoosiers' punter, Beattie has knocked 35 punts inside the 20 and forced 19 fair catches, with only 13 touchbacks. And he has never had a punt blocked. With his boots leading the way, the Hoosiers were among the top 20 in the nation in net punting in 2004 and should be even better this year.

The kick coverage was also sound.

Matching up with Wisconsin

Indiana does not match up well with anyone in the Big Ten defensively. The Hoosiers will rely heavily on Killion and Adeyanju. And Porter and Majors could develop into a pair of dynamic corners down the road. But IU is going to take its lumps again this year.

Killion can probably stand up and make plays against any team. He may finish with 20 tackles against UW, or other teams, but that still will not keep the Badgers from posting 30 or more points on the board.

Indiana is likely to struggle against the run yet again. While the Hoosiers pass defense should improve it is still going to be on the anemic side of the scale. UW's veteran receivers ought to enjoy the afternoon at Camp Randall.

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