Know Your Penn State Football Enemy: Indiana Hoosiers

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 28: Quarterback Richard Lagow
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 28: Quarterback Richard Lagow /

Last year, the Penn State football team won a shootout in Bloomington over the Indiana Hoosiers by a score of 45-31. What will the Hoosiers have in store for the Nittany Lions when they come to Beaver Stadium on September 30th?

The Indiana Hoosiers have long been a doormat in the Big Ten Conference. The Hoosiers have not won more than seven games since 1993, and they have not won more than 8 games since 1967. In 2017, the Hoosiers figure to struggle once again.

Indiana has gone to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991. The Hoosiers have finished 6-7 each of the past two seasons, and have lost their respective bowl game in each of those campaigns.

This past offseason was not an easy one for Indiana. Kevin Wilson was dismissed as head coach after six seasons at the helm in Bloomington. This came as a shocker to Indiana fans, as Wilson had taken Indiana from being awful to being respectable and making consecutive bowl games. Furthermore, he was under contract through 2021.

It would later come to light that the reason for Wilson leaving Indiana was due to allegations of him mistreating players. This led to Wilson’s defensive coordinator Tom Allen taking over as head coach. With Allen in charge, this should lead to a change in philosophy for Indiana Football starting this fall.

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Kevin Wilson is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. Under his leadership, the Hoosiers were always an offense-first team. Under Allen, however, defense will now be the calling card in Bloomington.

To become a defensive-first program the Hoosiers need to be a better defense, but not by as much as some may think. Last season they allowed 27.2 points per game which ranked 57th in the FBS, while their 380.1 yards allowed per game ranked 45th nationally. They ranked 20th in the FBS in defensive efficiency at 35.2 percent.

While Indiana’s defense was far from great in 2016, it was not bad either. In 2017their defense will be anchored by cornerback Rashard Fant and linebacker Tegray Scales. Fant is one of the best defensive backs in the conference and is coming off a 3 interception, 17 pass breakup season. Scales possesses a relentless motor and led the Big Ten with 126 tackles in 2016.

Indiana’s defense should take a step forward this fall. They return nine starters on the defensive side of the ball, and with Tom Allen’s defense first philosophy there should be a new emphasis put on defense in Bloomington this fall.

Offensively, the Hoosiers struggled last season. In 2016 they ranked 56th in the FBS in yards per game (426), 88th in points per game (25.8), and 93rd in offensive efficiency (38.7 percent). This fall they will return just 5 starters on offense, so things could be a struggle yet again.

Quarterback Richard Lagow leads the Hoosier offense. In 2016 the JUCO transfer finished second in the Big Ten in passing yards with 3,362. However, his 17 interceptions were also second in the conference. For Indiana’s offense to improve in 2017 Lagow must cut down on the mistakes.

Lagow and junior wide receiver Nick Westbrook create one of the best quarterback/wide receiver tandems in the Big Ten. Westbrook missed a game last season, but still caught 54 passes for 995 yards and six touchdowns.

A big hurdle for the Hoosier offense in 2017 will be replacing running back Devine Redding. Redding was a 1,000+ yard rusher in both 2015 and 2016 before heading to the NFL. Junior Mike Majette will get the first opportunity to replace Redding.

Another hurdle will be the offensive line. Indiana returns just a pair of starters from an offensive line that was very poor in 2016. Without improved play in the trenches, Indiana’s offense will not improve in 2017.

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The Indiana Hoosiers are a team with plenty of question marks heading into the 2017 season. They have a new head coach, a new team philosophy, and an offense with a lot to be replaced. However, they should have a defense that is in the top half of the Big Ten. This could give the Hoosiers the ability to give teams fits and possibly get bowl eligible in 2017.