Preseason projections: What they’re saying about IU football #iufb

The college football preview magazines agree: Indiana is positioned well to follow up on its bowl breakthrough of a year ago.

It may not feel like football season, but the start of IU’s fall camp is only nine days away. The unofficial opening of a new year arrives Tuesday, when IU coach Kevin Wilson, along with offensive linemen Dan Feeney and Dimitric Camiel and linebacker Marcus Oliver, preview the season at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.

With that in mind, here’s a look at what the major preseason publications are saying about the 2016 Hoosiers, a team many believe are on the verge of showing more consistency after earning the program’s first bowl appearance since 2007 last fall.

ATHLON

National projection: No. 55

Record: 6-6, 3-6 Big Ten

Big Ten finish: Fifth in the Big Ten East

Bowl projection: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Kansas State

All-Conference selections: Dan Feeney, 1st Team offensive line; Griffin Oakes, 1st Team kicker; Simmie Cobbs, 2nd Team receiver; Devine Redding, 3rd Team running back; Jonathan Crawford, 3rd Team safety.

Team analysis: Indiana continued its steady improvement under coach Kevin Wilson last season and earned the program’s first bowl trip since 2007. Maintaining success in the challenging Big Ten East won’t be easy, but this program is finally on stable footing — especially since Wilson received a contract extension in the offseason. While quarterback Nate Sudfeld must be replaced, Indiana should be in the mix for another bowl trip in 2016.

Of note:

— Right guard Dan Feeney is one of four offensive linemen to receive a spot on Athlon’s First Team All-American list.

— IU’s hiring of defensive coordinator Tom Allen is considered the No. 8 best assistant hire in the nation during the off-season.

— Athlon quotes an unnamed opposing coach, who is curious about how Wilson will replace what he’s lost on offense. “The biggest thing is losing Nate Sudfeld,” the coach said. “He’s going to be a really, really difficult player to replace because he’s an intelligent, competitive, accurate dude and managed that offense really well. … They also downgrade at running back because Devine Redding is no Jordan Howard or Tevin Coleman. Howard was going to get them yards and fall forward no matter what. Redding is a good back; he’s just not built the same way. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and do some things, but I think there’s going to be a drop-off.”

LINDY’S

National projection: No. 68

Big Ten rankings: 1. Ohio State, 2. Michigan, 3. Iowa, 4. Michigan State, 5. Northwestern, 6. Nebraska, 7. Wisconsin, 8. Penn State, 9. Minnesota, 10. Illinois, 11. Indiana, 12. Maryland, 13. Rutgers, 14. Purdue.

East Division: 1. Ohio State, 2. Michigan, 3. Michigan State, 4. Penn State, 5. Indiana, 6. Maryland, 7. Rutgers.

Good news: Hoosiers finally broke through — using that term ever so loosely — with a six-win season.

Bad news: With QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Jordan Howard off to the NFL, offense could struggle. Defense always struggles.

Our call: Hoosiers might have hit their ceiling in the East.

All-Conference selections: Dan Feeney, 1st Team offensive line; Griffin Oakes, 1st Team kicker; Simmie Cobbs, 2nd Team receiver.

Primary strenghts: The receiving corps is talented and deep. The defense, a weakness in recent years, is at least loaded with young talent at linebacker and in the secondary.

Potential problems: As usual, the defense is the primary concern, and the line needs to develop if the IU stop troops have any hopes of improving.

Of note:

— Lindy’s calls incoming freshman running back Cole Gest the sleeper of Indiana’s 2016 recruiting class. “Gest may have been the best high school football player in Ohio last year, rushing for 2,097 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior for state champion Lakewood St. Edward. Gest has 4.4 speed and will be a factor at receiver and running back from day one in Bloomington.”

— On its list of top NFL prospects, Lindy’s ranks right guard Dan Feeney at No. 9. Feeney is also named the league’s top pass blocker.

— At No. 5, quarterback Richard Lagow rounds out the list of Lindy’s top five newcomers to the Big Ten. “The junior college transfer is a monster in the pocket at 6-foot-6, 240.”

— Among Big Ten programs, IU is ranked in the top five in receivers (three) and special teams (four).

PHIL STEELE

Power poll: No. 57

Big Ten finish: Fifth in Big Ten East

Bowl projection: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Georgia Tech

All-Conference selections: Simmie Cobbs, 1st Team receiver; Dan Feeney, 1st Team offensive guard; Griffin Oakes, 1st Team kicker; Dan Godsil, 2nd Team long snapper; Devine Redding, 3rd Team running back; Ricky Jones, 3rd Team receiver; Marcus Oliver, 3rd Team linebacker; Mitchell Paige, 3rd Team punt returner.

Team analysis: “Despite losing their quarterback and running back to the NFL, I think this team could be stronger overall. Last year they took Ohio State, Michigan and Duke to the last play and Iowa and Michigan State until late (in the fourth quarter). The Hoosiers were on my Most Improved List in 2015 and made it to their first bowl since 2007 and find themselves on that list again. I expect them to be in a second straight bowl and this time I will call for their first winning season since 2007.”

Of note:

— Steele lists IU as his No. 15 most improved team.

— Indiana will have the fourth-most improved defense against the pass in 2016, Steele projects. He also predicts IU will have the No. 14 pass offense in the nation.

— In his rankings of top position groups, Steele considers IU’s offensive line the No. 12 group in the country. He also pegs the Hoosiers’ receiving corps No. 24.

— Steele ranks IU’s schedule as the No. 53 toughest in the country. Last year, it was No. 48.

4 comments

  1. HC, yeah, me too. I’ve had some folks go out of their way to talk about Gest. Could be a lot of new toys at Wilson’s disposal the next few years with guys like Gest and Natee, especially. Curious, too, how he uses a guy like Mike Majette. Ricky Brookins spent a good chunk of the spring working out as a receiver, with the idea that he might flex out there in different packages. I shouldn’t forget about speedy receiver/athlete Isaac James either. Kind of fun to think about.

  2. …and my thoughts are a mirror to yours with those same names…it is good IU has a offensive minded HC with the # of personnel packages that can be devised…but the OL just as in the past 3 years makes it all work and succeed…wished I could sneak into Fall camp 3-4 times…

  3. HC, it would be fun to see a few Fall practices and see how the offense is developing. There seems to be a move to have versatile players so that the defense can’t anticipate what the offense will do. It will be fun to see what the team is like this year.

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