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              ***** NCAA Football Preview - Indiana Hoosiers *****
 
 By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 2011 SEASON IN REVIEW: In his first season at the helm, head coach Kevin
 Wilson led Indiana to a lackluster 1-11 record, with the lone victory coming
 against FCS school South Carolina State on Sept. 17.
 
 Following that triumph, the Hoosiers lost a narrow decision at North Texas
 (24-21) and then came up just a bit short against Penn State (16-10) to open
 their Big Ten schedule. From there, they were hardly competitive at all,
 dropping the next six league contests by an average margin of 30 points. All
 told, it was the Hoosiers' worst season since the 1984 squad went 0-11. IU had
 the distinction of being the only school from a BCS conference not to beat a
 single team from the FBS.
 
 Perhaps the players struggled to adjust to Wilson's much more intense coaching
 style than his laid-back predecessor, Bill Lynch. Certainly not all of the
 blame should be placed on Wilson's shoulders. Damarlo Belcher, the conference's
 leading receiver the previous season, was kicked off the team in late-October
 after failing a drug test. Wilson's top objective heading into the offseason
 program was to try and find ways to connect with his players, while instilling
 discipline and accountability.
 
 2012 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: Wilson brought Seth Littrell on board to run the offense. Littrell
 spent the last three seasons serving as Arizona's offensive coordinator, and
 the 2011 Wildcats ranked third nationally in passing offense (370.8) and 15th
 in total offense (465.2). He'll inherit a team with far less notoriety on the
 offensive side of the ball.
 
 After burning through the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart a year ago,
 freshman Tre Roberson took over the job for the final five games and ran the
 spread option. In fact, Roberson was the first true freshman ever to start at
 quarterback in the program's history. Whether he keeps the job remains to be
 seen, but he'll have a leg up on the competition.
 
 "When you're a 1-11 football team there's no job safety. There's nothing
 etched in stone," Wilson said. "You've got to earn it every day. The
 conversation to Tre Roberson and the conversation to every quarterback, we're
 not going to be a good team in the Big Ten with average quarterback play. That
 is a fact."
 
 With junior tailback Stephen Houston leading the charge in the backfield, the
 Hoosiers aren't likely to stray too far from the option game. In his first
 season at IU after transferring from junior college, Houston ran for 711 yards
 (5.5 ypc) and seven scores against league foes, while also flashing strong
 ball security. It marked the team's top individual rushing performance since
 BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 938 yards in '03, and it helped the Hoosiers notch
 their best season on the ground since 2001. With a capable but unproven
 receiving corps and a young offensive line, Houston figures to get plenty of
 work as long as he stays healthy.
 
 DEFENSE: The 2011 Hoosiers boasted the nation's 118th-ranked run defense and
 were 114th in scoring defense. Those numbers will have to improve quite a bit
 if the team has any hopes of qualifying for a bowl game. Wilson brought in a
 half-dozen junior college transfers to come in and compete on defense, and he
 is hopeful that some of the many freshman who saw the field in 2011 are ready
 to take that next step forward. Wilson said getting third-down stops will be
 one of the key focuses for his defense this season, and he's confident that
 will happen.
 
 "Year two of schematics, understanding some schemes, and coaches adjusting
 some schemes and adapting to players what they can and can't do and what not,"
 he said, when asked at the Big Ten kickoff about IU's defense habitually
 letting tight games quickly get out of hand.
 
 Despite being gashed repeatedly on the ground, the coaching staff likes what
 it has in the defensive tackle rotation, headed by senior Adam Replogle who
 notched 7.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive end Bobby
 Richardson accounted for three sacks last year as a freshman, but the team got
 virtually no production from anyone else at that position. Among the
 newcomers, keep an eye on sophomore juco transfer David Cooper, who racked up
 more than 100 stops (13.0 TFL) a year ago.
 
 In the secondary, the hope is that the five freshmen who saw starting time, one
 or two will make an impact. After all, no other secondary in the Big Ten was
 torched as often as the Hoosiers.
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: IU's return game was ordinary at best last season, so look for
 Wilson to perhaps turn to one of the incoming freshmen to provide a spark
 there.
 
 The team must replace punter Adam Pines, but kicker Mitch Ewald returns after
 earning All-Big Ten honorable mention. In two seasons, Ewald has made 29-of-35
 field goals and that includes six kicks from beyond 40 yards.
 
 OUTLOOK: The good news for the long-suffering IU program is that things can't
 get much worse than last season. Wilson, in his first season roaming the
 sidelines, played 16 true freshmen and another 16 redshirt freshmen -- the 32
 freshmen were the highest total in the country.
 
 Undoubtedly, the coaching staff is banking on that experience paying big
 dividends in 2012. At the end of the day though, the Hoosiers are simply not as
 big or as talented as the rest of the conference. Huge question marks remain on
 defense, and a young Roberson must adapt to a new offensive scheme. He'll get
 some help from Houston in the backfield, but if the defense does not show
 significant improvement, the Hoosiers will be forced to abandon the running
 game earlier than they'd like.
 
 
 
 08/23 09:24:11 ET