GBI Magazine

Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 103 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 102 I ndiana had one of the worst defenses in the country in 2015 — again. It had one of the best offenses in the country — again. And, despite the imbalance, it made its first bowl game since 2007. How will Coach Kevin Wilson, armed with a contract extension after a 6-7 season, make it work in 2016 with a similar problem? For starters, he brought in a new co- ordinator to try to solve the defensive woes, tagging Tom Allen to fix a unit that saw two 27-point, two 41-point and one 52-point effort by the offense wasted in losses. Allen will switch to a nickel defense as base, moving away from a 3-4, and he'll need to figure out a way to get to the quarterback after losing 65 percent of the sack produc- tion from the front four. Perhaps a playmaking linebacker corps can help there, though. Junior Marcus Oliver, who had 100-plus tackles, had 6.5 tackles for loss to go with four forced fumbles and two INTs. The back half of the defense has been especially bad, but all four starters re- turn, including safety Jonathan Craw- ford, who had four interceptions and was on the All-Freshman Team. But, elsewhere, there are young play- ers that the staff is excited about, and there are largely young players across the board who should have grown from a year of experience. "It's really (about) can you just be a little bit sturdier at the back end, create turnovers, maybe give up fewer touch- downs and more field goals (instead)? I don't think there's going to be drastic improvement, but if they can get some improvements along the margins, then I think they'll be OK," said Zach Oster- man, who covers the Hoosiers for the Indianapolis Star. That's because there's an expectation offensive mastermind Wilson will keep the offense rolling despite seemingly crucial losses. He's charged with replac- ing a 3,500-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a starting left tackle. But he still has significant pieces to work with: A 1,000-yard rusher (Devine Redding), an all-conference guard (Dan Feeney) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Sim- mie Cobbs). At 6-foot-5, 212 pounds, Cobbs is the protoypical boundary re- ceiver who took advantage of one-on- one matchups against smaller corners on the outside and is a "good complete package," Osterman said. But Cobbs will need someone to get him the ball consistently. And that's the offense's biggest issue. Junior college trans- fer Richard Lagow, a 6-6, 240-pounder, is a pocket passer with a strong arm. Junior Zander Diamont, the backup the last two seasons, is smaller but more athletic and very mobile. "It's very much contrast- ing styles," Osterman said. "They're both older guys, one of them has experience at IU, one has played a ton of snaps in JUCO. One is probably more prototypical size as a QB. It just comes down to what Wilson wants. Ultimately, I think a lot of it will come down to ball secu- rity and turnovers. Those are things that are very big for Wilson. "I would fully expect the battle to run fairly deep into fall camp. Wilson has never been one to force that deci- sion." Either player could get a chance to get comfortable before conference plays begins: The non-conference schedule seems kind with FIU, Ball State and Wake Forest. The Big Ten starts rough with Michigan State and Ohio State but IU's crossover games are Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue. "If they can get the quarterback situ- ation straightened out fairly quickly and the defense even just makes some mar- ginal improvements, I could see another bowl game being possible," Osterman said. "I don't know if they'd win a ton more than six because they are still a somewhat young team." — Stacy Clardie Indiana Running back Devine Redding will get the advantage of a veteran offensive line, including all-conference guard Dan Feeney.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of GBI Magazine - Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6