Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 13, 2016

In his fifth season in Bloomington, Indiana, Kevin Wilson enjoyed a breakthrough by leading the Hoosiers to their first bowl since 2007. Now, he wants to take the program another step toward: winning a bowl. Wilson and Co., are on track. But work needs to be done to move up the pecking order in the rugged Big Ten East.

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The offense loses some key players but should be OK with Wilson?s steady hand guiding things. The defense? It remains an albatross around the neck of the program, ranking last overall (509.5 ypg) and last in scoring (37.6 ppg) in 2015. Wilson isn?t standing pat, changing coordinators. Brian Knorr is out after two season; Tom Allen is in, the third coordinator under Wilson, who originally had Doug Mallory running his defense.

Allen was the DC at South Florida. He has been a hot name in coaching searches this offseason. He was a top candidate for the same position at Auburn. Allen is an Indiana native who attended IU and has coached in Indiana. He implemented a 4-2-5 defense at South Florida. It's not known what scheme he will use at Indiana. IU also welcomes back alum Mark Hagen to coach the d-line. He was at Texas A&M the last two years but was on Wilson's original staff.

Here are three key areas to watch this spring in Bloomington.

1. Secondary. This group struggled mightily last year, as the Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten vs. the pass (313.8 ypg) with 32 touchdown passes allowed. 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.

2. Quarterback. Nate Sudfeld leaves as the school?s all-time leading passer. Who will pick up the slack under center to push the buttons on this prolific offense? JC transfer Richard Lagow is on campus with a fat scrapbook and lots of potential. The 6-6 gunslinger-built along the lines of Sudfeld–signed with UConn out of high school, then walked-on at Oklahoma State before matriculating to a JC. Lagow and junior Zander Diamont figure to be the main competitors. The athletic Diamont has seen some duty the last two years when Sudfeld was hurt. Others in the mix are sophomore Danny Cameron, senior Nate Boudreau and redshirt freshman Austin King.

3. Defensive line. 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.


Record: 6-7, 2-6/5th East (lost to Duke in Pinstripe Bowl)
Spring ball starts: March 5
Spring game: April 15
Key players gone: RB Jordan Howard; DT Darius Latham; DE Nick Mangieri; NT Adarius Rayner; C Jake Reed; LB Zack Shaw; OT Jason Spriggs; QB Nate Sudfeld; P Erich Toth
Key players back: G Jacob Bailey; OT Dimitric Camiel; WR Simmie Cobbs; FS Chase Dutra; CB Rashard Fant; G Dan Feeney; WR Ricky Jones; LB Clyde Newton; K Griffin Oakes; LB Marcus Oliver; WR Mitchell Paige; RB Devine Redding; LB T.J. Simmons


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