2012 Indiana Hoosiers Football Preview
The Indiana Hoosiers' first season under a new head coach did not go well at all in 2011. If this program is to move forward and give its fans any appreciable degree of hope for the immediate future, substantial improvement is not a choice in 2012. It's a necessity.
Last season could not have gone worse for Kevin Wilson, the former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma who was hired to replace Bill Lynch as the team's head coach. Indiana went 1-11, with its lone victory coming against a Football Championship Subdivision school, South Carolina State. It was bad enough when Indiana began the season by losing a neutral-site game to Ball State of the Mid-American Conference, but that loss was partly attributable to the natural process of a team and coaching staff trying to get on the same page. Rough edges and sloppy moments were to be expected in the maiden gameday voyage of the Wilson era. It was in the second game of 2011, against the Virginia Cavaliers, that the kinks were supposed to be worked out. To a considerable extent, they were, but a disastrous endgame sequence created a tone that the Hoosiers were never able to reverse or wipe away as their season spiraled out of control.
Down 23-3 to Virginia in the early stages of the second half, Indiana put Wilson's halftime adjustments to great use, scoring four straight touchdowns to grab a 31-23 lead with six and a half minutes remaining. It's true that Virginia won eight games last season, but the Cavaliers didn't know who they were or what they had at the time. Both teams needed that game for their confidence as much as anything else; the outcome of that contest was going to shape the trajectory of the season for both the Cavs and the Hoosiers. When Virginia scored a touchdown and converted the tying 2-point conversion with just under 1:40 left, the Hoosiers allowed themselves to feel deflated instead of redoubling their focus on a potential game-winning drive. A turnover gave Virginia a short field, and as a result, the Cavaliers were able to kick a game-winning field goal on the final play of regulation. Virginia wrested a 34-31 decision from the Hoosiers, a team that had lost so many games in similar fashion under the previous coaching staff's direction. Predictably, the Virginia loss shattered the Hoosiers' outlook, and when North Texas zapped IU a few weeks later, the wreckage of the season was already substantial. The closest Indiana came to winning a Big Ten game was in a six-point loss to Penn State on Oct. 1. On only one other occasion – the Old Oaken Bucket rivalry game against Purdue on Nov. 26 – did the Hoosiers lose by only one score.
Yes, Wilson will need to get more out of returning starting quarterback Tre Roberson. Yes, Wilson needs running back Isaiah Roundtree to take the heat off Roberson by providing a change-of-pace alternative between the tackles. Yes, Wilson will need his defense to stand its ground in 2012 after giving up at least 33 points in the Hoosiers' last seven games of 2011. However, tactics and technique won't mean very much if Indiana doesn't believe in itself. This team has a minimal level of confidence at the moment. The Hoosiers can't win if they don't trust themselves in times of adversity, and it's quite clear that adversity is very pervasive in the Indiana football family at the moment.
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