Stadium: Memorial Stadium
When They Play Terps: September 27th at Indiana
Why They Could Be Good:
The offense that finished 25th in the nation in total yards looks to improve on their stellar offensive performances from last year. Rising junior quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who threw for 2,500 yards in 2013 and junior wideout Shane Wynn (a team-high 11 touchdowns) will be featured even more in the passing game. The Hoosiers offense exploded last year as they averaged 508.5 yards-per-game. With another offseason to improve, this offense could explode even more next year.
Indiana is also bringing in a strong 2014 class headlined by three-star Jordan Fuchs and four-stars WR Dominique Booth and OL Tim Gardner. With more playmakers, this offense looks very similar to Maryland. Wynn and running back Tevin Coleman, who ran for 958 yards last year, are explosive athletes that can extend the play very well. Their young impact recruits have a chance to make this high-octane offense even more exciting. The additions of four three-stars on the defensive side, headlined by linebacker Tegray Scales, defensive tackle Michael Barwick, and cornerbacks Donovan Clark and Tony Fields, will provided much needed help to this defense that needs all it can get.
Why They Could Be Bad:
With an offense that averaged 508.5 yards per game last year, they still finished 5-7 for a reason. Indiana finished 120th in total defense, which is the fourth worst in the country. Although their schedule is not as tough as Maryland’s, they still have to travel to Missouri, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio State, while they play host to Penn State and Michigan State. While they are bringing in Scales, Barwick, Clark and Fields, these four are not enough for a defense that was so poor last year. The positive is that last year’s defensive coordinator, Doug Mallory, was let go in favor of Brian Knorr, who was previously the defensive coordinator alongside Jim Grobe at Wake Forest. Although Wake Forest’s defensive was never as bad as Indiana’s, I’m not convinced that Knorr is the man to make a quick turnaround for this team in desperate need of a more consistent offense. Knorr can make improvements over time, but for next year, I don’t see it. Combine that with the fact that Indiana still plays in the Big Ten, and next year will not be their year.
Prediction: 4 wins
I’m giving them wins over Indiana State, at Bowling Green, North Texas, and Purdue. Rutgers was a tough pick, but with the Hoosiers on the road, giving the edge to Rutgers here. Between four and five wins for a really talented offensive team sounds about right.