SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Indiana Hoosiers

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Gerry DiNardo (2nd year, 3-9)
2002 record: 3-9 (none)
Big Ten finish: 11th
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 116.5 ypg
(11th in Big Ten, 93rd in nation)
Pass: 251.7 ypg (3rd, 33rd)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 234.9 ypg (10th, 113th)
Pass: 193.5 ypg (4th, 33rd)
Projected Starters
Offense (7 returning starters in bold)
FL   19   Courtney Roby   Jr.  
SE   9   Glenn Johnson   Sr.  
LT  76  Isaac Sowells  So. 
LG   75   Adam Hines   So.  
73  Brandon Hatcher  So. 
RG   72   Chris Jahnke   Jr.  
RT  60  Justin Frye  Fr. 
TE   87   Aaron Halterman   Jr.  
QB  10  Matt LoVecchio  Jr. 
RB   3   Brian Lewis   Sr.  
FB   34   John Pannozzo   So.  
Defense (7)
DE   56   Jodie Clemons   Jr.  
DT  97  Martin Lapostolle  Jr. 
NT   55   Russ Richardson   So.  
DE   94   Victor Adeyanju   So.  
MLB   43   Kyle Killion   So.  
SLB   48   Kevin Smith   Jr.  
ROV   21   Herana-Daze Jones   Jr.  
CB   6   Damien Jones   So.  
CB  26  Leonard Bryant  So. 
SS  Will Lumpkin  So. 
FS  25  Joe Gonzalez  Sr. 
Special Teams
18  Bryan Robertson  Jr. 
44  Tyson Beattie  Fr. 
KR  19  Courtney Roby  Jr. 
PR  Glenn Johnson  Sr. 
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  at Connecticut 
Sept. 6  at Washington 
Sept. 13  Indiana State 
Sept. 20  Kentucky 
Sept. 27  at Michigan 
Oct. 4  at Michigan State 
Oct. 11  Northwestern 
Oct. 25  Ohio State 
Nov. 1  at Minnesota 
Nov. 8  Illinois 
Nov. 15  at Penn State 
Nov. 22  Purdue 
Year two of Indiana football's resurrection remains peppered with problems and low expectations, but even straight-shooter Gerry DiNardo sees obvious improvement. An offseason of hard work has players' spirits soaring and the coaching staff conceding that the Hoosiers are closer to succeeding than simply surviving.

"You have a better chance of becoming a better football team when you are a better-conditioned team," DiNardo said. "Most of the guys are not going to just try to get through practice. It is not going to be a survival test. It might even be a real football practice instead of just a survival or endurance test."

Time will tell, but the transition phase of DiNardo's rebuilding project is complete. Players know the system. The team and staff possess better chemistry. Personnel continues to improve. And the Hoosiers understand that the only relevant expectations are their own and DiNardo's, which for now linger beyond their reach.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Indiana intends to ride its high-octane offense to success. The Hoosiers set a new single-season mark for passing yards (3,020) in their first year under DiNardo and offensive coordinator Al Borges. That record figures to fall when former Notre Dame quarterback Matt LoVecchio makes his highly anticipated debut in Bloomington and provides a major upgrade. Borges' eyes light up when the topic turns to LoVecchio -- and with good reason. LoVecchio possesses the mind, arm and mobility to pull off anything Borges asks.

Hoosier receivers figure to cash in on LoVecchio's talent. Courtney Roby and Glenn Johnson excel after the catch and are on par with any Big Ten tandem. Both grabbed more than 50 catches in 2002, an Indiana first, and figure to better all their impressive marks with LoVecchio delivering the ball. Expanded roles for sure-handed No. 3 receiver Tyke Spencer and tight end Aaron Halterman are also expected.

Borges' main concern lies with a patchwork offensive line. The guards figure to be strong, with Chris Jahnke and Adam Hines. LoVecchio's wheels figure to cut the line some slack, but it still must provide adequate protection and pave the way for capable running backs Brian Lewis and Yamar Washington. With some holes, Lewis and Washington can provide the balance Indiana needs to exceed expectations.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

After absorbing its share of beatings last season, Indiana's defense spent the offseason in the weight room getting bigger, stronger and faster. Defensive coordinator Tim Kish wants the middle of his defense to be this unit's foundation. That's exactly where opponents overwhelmed the Hoosiers a year ago, and depth remains a major concern.

Indiana's secondary held up better than expected and continues to make strides. Damien Jones and Leonard Bryant are the best pair of coverage cornerbacks the team has fielded in years. The Hoosiers will deploy three safeties, with senior Joe Gonzalez, the backfield's leader, at free safety, Will Lumpkin at strong safety and Herana-Daze Jones at rover.

Questions abound about Indiana's defensive backs. The skepticism stems from a lack of challenges. Hoosiers' opponents usually ran to victory, victimizing Indiana's front seven. The opposition will deal with a bulked-up front six -- IU will run a 4-2-5 this fall -- but the only playmaker is sophomore linebacker Kyle Killion. His presence in the middle could single-handedly lead to a better defense against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Bryan Robertson and Tyson Beattie provide Indiana with a solid kicking game. Robertson finally ended the Hoosiers' placekicking woes and is extremely accurate from long range. He's entrenched at kicker, but also serves as the No. 2 punter behind Beattie.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

DiNardo's rebuilding project marches onward, and the Hoosiers grow closer to a bowl bid every day. It will, however, take more days than the 2003 season holds to make Indiana a legitimate postseason contender.

LoVecchio and the offense will post big numbers, but the Hoosiers' undoing will be inexperience and the uncertain status of their offensive and defensive fronts. Indiana's inability to consistently run or stop the run makes Big Ten competition a tall order. Until that changes, DiNardo's reconstruction will continue in Bloomington.

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