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B1G Season Review: Indiana

2014 Recap: It was another rocky season in Bloomington for Kevin Wilson and company with the Hoosiers finishing the year 4-8 and only one win in Big Ten play. With quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Tevin Coleman, Indiana was poised to produce one of the most dynamic and efficient offensive units the conference had last season. It all came to a screeching halt when Sudfeld went down in a game against Iowa midway through the year.

With back-up Chris Covington sustaining an injury as well, the Hoosiers were forced to turn to Zander Diamont, who came into the season fifth on the depth chart. Indiana’s productivity took a major hit for the final six games of the year. A team that averaged 32 points per game in the first half of the season only put up 18 per game in the final stretch.

Offensively the Hoosiers had their struggles as the season progressed and injuries occurred, but Indiana’s real troubles came defensively, ranking 13th in the conference in points allowed. It was common to see opposing offenses hang 300 yards through the air or eclipse the 400 total yard mark in a game, something that hindered IU’s success.

Despite a rough road for the Hoosiers in 2014, the performance of Coleman gave Indiana fans something to cheer about. The junior totaled more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, ranking second in the nation in rushing yardage for the year. He eclipsed the 100 yard mark in 11 games last season and totaled 200 or more yards on four occasions.

Coleman was a diamond in the rough for the Hoosiers in 2014 and was virtually the only reason his team was competitive in the final six games of the year.

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 20 Indiana at Missouri

Starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld should return from injury in time for the 2015 opener.

High Point: Beating rival Purdue and earning one conference victory at the end of the year was a positive for the Hoosiers, but the pinnacle of the year for Wilson’s bunch came in late September when they took down 18th ranked Missouri on the road, 31-27. After suffering a 45-42 loss to Bowling Green the week prior, the Hoosiers were counted out against the eventual champions of the SEC East. Sudfeld threw for 252 yards and Coleman ran for 132 more in the victory. Indiana didn’t record a single turnover in the ball game and shut out Missouri in the third quarter, giving it a lead heading into the fourth. At the time, it was teetering on the verge of being a season or program changing win for the cream and crimson.

Low Point: Indiana dropped six-straight games before closing out the season with a win in the Old Oaken Bucket game. Most of those games weren’t particularly close, either. The Hoosiers battled Penn State and Ohio State pretty well, but still lost the six games by an average of 20 points per game. As the season progressed, Diamont and the Hoosiers continued to improve, but they struggled to compete on the same level as other Big Ten teams.

Best Player: There’s little doubt that the most valuable player for Indiana was Tevin Coleman this season. There really isn’t anyone else even in the discussion. It’s hard to imagine how far Indiana would’ve fallen if the nation’s second leading rusher wasn’t in Bloomington this season. During a tough stretch, Coleman provided plenty of excitement, breaking the school’s single season rushing record with 2,036.

2015 Outlook: It’s going to be tough to gage the Hoosiers heading into next season, but without their star running back, things don’t look too promising. Sudfeld should be back on the field in time to open the year, which should allow Indiana to expand its passing game. Losing top receivers Shane Wynn and Nick Stoner along with Coleman will provide plenty of obstacles for Wilson this offseason.

Indiana also needs to improve defensively, something it hasn’t done under Wilson’s watch. It won’t matter how strong or weak the Hoosiers are offensively if the defense struggles defending the pass again in 2015, which would lead to another sub-.500 season in Bloomington.

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