Dienhart: Indiana Hoosiers' offseason to-do list
Kevin Wilson is pleased with how Indiana looked in spring drills, but he knows work remains to be done if the Hoosiers want to get back to a bowl game. The last time IU went to a bowl in consecutive seasons? The 1990-91 seasons.
Here is a look at Indiana’s to-do list for the offseason before opening the season at Florida International on Sept. 1.
1. Settle the QB job. Who will replace Nate Sudfeld, who leaves as the school’s all-time leading passer? JC transfer Richard Lagow looked good in the spring. The 6-6 gunslinger signed with UConn out of high school, then walked-on at Oklahoma State before matriculating to a JC. He battled sophomore Danny Cameron in the spring. Junior Zander Diamont was limited by injury but will enter the fray in camp.
2. Adapt to the new defense. New coordinator Tom Allen arrived from South Florida and has installed a 4-2-5 scheme. Will it work? Allen is the third DC under Kevin Wilson. And the third guy with a different idea. The back seven is loaded with veteran talent. This defense needs to bet better after ranking last overall in the Big Ten (509.5 ypg) and last in scoring (37.6 ppg) in 2015.
3. Develop the d-line. This area took some big hits, as all three starters are gone in end Nick Mangieri, tackle Darius Latham (who turned pro early) and nose man Adarius Rayner. Shawn Heffern is an option at end, Robert McCray has potential at tackle and Ralphael Green is coming on at the nose. IU was 13th in the Big Ten vs. the run (195.7 ypg). This must change. And, it begins up front.
4. Plug a leaky pass defense. In what perhaps is a good news/bad news situation, every key member of the secondary is back for a unit that was part of a defense that ranked last in the Big Ten vs. the pass (313.8 ypg) and TD passes allowed (32). Mid-year JC enrollee Jayme Thompson figures in the mix at safety. There are some promising young players, like corners Rashard Fant and Andre Brown along with safeties Jonathan Crawford and Chase Dutra. It’s hoped the experienced gained last year will pay off with more consistent play in 2016.
5. Shore up the o-line. This may have been the most underrated front in the Big Ten, as it powered the league’s No. 2 rushing attack (210.5 ypg). Stud guard Dan Feeney is back along with two other starters to propel a rushing attack that has lost star RB Jordan Howard but returns Devine Redding. But gone are center Jake Reed and star left tackle Jason Spriggs, a second-round NFL pick. Who takes over for Spriggs? Keep an eye on Brandon Knight, who could the best next great blocker in Bloomington. The 6-5, 290-pound sophomore played in 11 games last year at tackle and tight end, showing a nice combination of athletic ability and power.
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