BLOOMINGTON – Fun to watch? Yeah, you could say that.
They scored 30 points a game. They led their conference in passing and were second in total offense. They had undefeated Ohio State on the ropes at home and lost four games by under double digits.
Yes, this was the 2012 Indiana football season that featured just four wins, but at times it was entertaining-and Hoosiers’ fans hope it may be foreshadowing as well.
“We were young and didn’t know what to expect,” said receiver Shane Wynn of last year’s Hoosiers-who were one of the youngest teams in FBS football. “Now we know a lot more. We do a lot more film study together, we hang out a lot together-we just know each other more.”
Perhaps that’s why Kevin Wilson’s third season could provide some hope that the Hoosiers may make their first bowl appearance in six seasons in 2013. Indiana will have the benefit of ten starters back on offense along with eight home games and give the Hoosiers a chance to turn a number of close calls a season ago around.
“Last year we were working with the offense the first year. Now we know it, we’ve gone a whole season with it, a whole winter with it, and now a whole spring with it,” said receiver Kofi Hughes. “Now things are really working for us.”
That’s the attitude of many during the month-long spring practice workouts in and around Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Its considered a time to build and improve on an offensive unit that put up some big number in a wild 2012.
Indiana led the Big Ten in passing with 311 yard a game and were second in total offense with 442 yards a contest. Their 30.8 points a game were fourth highest in the league and helped to offset a defense that was last in the conference and gave Hoosiers fans a little something to cheer about.
After a rough 2011 season which the won just a single game, Wilson’s team was able to get four in the win column in 2012 and nearly had a few more. In four of those losses (Ball State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Navy), the Hoosiers lost by a combined ten points.
“It just shows what we’re really capable of,” said receiver Cody Latimer, who led the Hoosiers with 805 yards receiving and six touchdowns in 2012. “We never give up, we fought back in some big games and we can hopefully pull them out this season.”
Doing so will depend on who will be calling the signals for the Hoosiers-and that race is still ongoing. At the moment there are three quarterbacks with experience in the fold: Tre Roberson, Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld. While a rotation within the game occurred throughout the season it was Coffman who saw the bulk of the playing time, throwing for 2,734 yards with 15 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. Sudfeld would come in to relieve in seven games throwing for 632 yards for seven touchdowns with just a single interception.
The variable is Roberson, who played significantly as a true freshman in Wilson’s first year and started the first two games of 2012. He threw for 368 yards and two scores while rushing for 133 yards and three touchdowns before his season ended when he broke his leg against UMass in the second week of the season.
“Tre’s definitely healthy,” said Wilson of the quarterback. “Those guys are all doing well. They’re good teammates, they work hard. I don’t know if we have a great one, but we have three really good ones that are competing hard and they’ve all played. So they’re calm, they’re confident and I’m glad we’ve got them. We’ll keep working with them.”
Hughes says others on the offense aren’t fazed with not knowing who might be taking the bulk of the snaps when the Hoosiers open the season August 29th against Indiana State in Bloomington.
“At the end of the day they all have the same read, they all take the same drops, they all have to make the same throws,” said Hughes. “As a wide out, your job is to make the quarterback look better, look good, so it really doesn’t matter who is out there, but they’re all doing an amazing job.
“They’re all the one right now, they’re all competing for that starting job.”
At the same time they battle for the right to potentially lead Indiana back to relevancy in Big Ten Football.