"We're going to throw it around for sure," senior quarterback Ben Chappell said with a smile. The smile is justifiable, seeing as the Hoosiers have a sound group of receivers led by junior Tandon Doss.
At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Doss is a big threat, especially after making 77 catches for 962 yards and five touchdowns. As Wisconsin also found out last season, Doss is a solid kick, averaging 21.3 yards per return last season. If it wasn't for Doss, more people would be talking about Demarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner, one of Indiana's representatives at media day.
Belcher grabbed 61 receptions for 770 yards and five touchdowns while Turner notched 46 catches, turning that into 443 yards and one touchdown.
"We've got a good group coming back," Turner said, "and we've got a quarterback that we are confident in."
Chappell had an outstanding junior season, completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards and 17 touchdowns. He threw for 300 yards three times last season, including a performance that nearly single handedly won the game against Wisconsin. With his three receivers back, Chappell is in line for a big season, but recognizes the fact that Indiana's offense needs to be balanced to be successful.
That's where sophomore Darius Willis come in, the team's leading rusher last season. Averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 67.4 yards per game, Willis will have to provide some semblance of a run game in order to take pressure off the passing game. If Indiana becomes a one-trick pony, the Hoosiers will be in trouble.
Even if Indiana scores a bunch of points, it might not be enough to overcome a defense that has to replace nearly its entire secondary and loses defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton. Indiana gave up an average of 29.5 points last season (90th nationally) and 401 yards per game (88th nationally), meaning there's a lot of room for improvement. Moreover, of the top nine tackles of last year, only senior linebacker Tyler Replogle returns, meaning he'll need to carry the leadership torch and there are a lot of tackles needing to be filled.
Indiana will always be a basketball school, but the football team is trying to make its blueprint. The Hoosiers have revamped their weight room, stadium and facilities. More importantly, fourth-year Head Coach Bill Lynch is putting together a solid recruiting class. If his school doesn't go to a bowl game and learn to win close football games (IU lost three games by three points or less), he might not be around to see the results.
If you go
Date/Time - Saturday, November 13 at TBA
Arena – Camp Randall, Madison
Series – Wisconsin leads 36-18-2
Last Meeting – Wisconsin beat Indiana, 31-28, November 7, 2009 in Bloomington
Early Prediction - Wisconsin 42, Indiana 24