Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 136 of 163

THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 135 BY RYAN TICE Fifth-year Indiana head coach Kevin Wil- son may not have a lot of starters to replace numbers-wise, but several of the losses from last year's squad were his most important players. After relying largely on the passing game in his first three years at the helm, Wilson relied on running back Tevin Coleman, who ran for more than 2,000 yards last fall but then left early for the NFL. Indiana lucked out and found Coleman's replacement in January, after UAB ended its football program and sent its players scat- tering across the U.S. The Hoosiers picked up three players at positions of need, hitting the jackpot by adding junior running back Jordan Howard. The 6-1, 225-pounder rushed for 1,587 yards and 13 touchdowns on 306 carries (5.2-yard average) last year, and was named first-team All-Conference USA. He has gained 2,623 yards from scrimmage in the last two years, which ranks seventh nation- ally among active rushers. Howard should find running room behind four returning starters up front, and will be joined by UAB teammates Marqui Hawkins, a 6-2, 217-pound redshirt sophomore wide receiver who began his career at Florida, and redshirt freshman wideout Kyree Hollis, an Indiana native. Their presence will help make up for the loss of leading receiver Shane Wynn, Cole- man (who ranked second on the team with 25 receptions) and No. 3 pass catcher Nick Stoner. Sophomore J-Shun Harris II is the top returner after he posted 18 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Howard and the returning experience on the line, led by All-Big Ten honorable men- tions Jason Spriggs, a tackle, and guard Dan Feeney, should help the rushing attack con- tinue to produce. The hope is that senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld can bring along the passing game. The 6-5, 240-pounder is on his way to ce- menting his status as one of the school's best quarterbacks, but is coming off of a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the final six games of 2014. Before that, he completed 60.5 percent of his throws for 1,151 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He started eight times in 2013 and threw for 2,523 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine picks. The defense transitioned to a 3-4 base last year, but is still called a multiple unit. That change resulted in improvements — the Hoosiers allowed 94 fewer yards and six less points per game — but there are still strides to be made. Indiana allowed an average of 32.8 points per game, which ranked 100th nationally. However, the Hoosiers were 4-1 when al- lowing less than 30 points, including a 31-27 win over SEC East champion Missouri in week three. The majority of players who saw signifi- cant time up front return, which could lead to more four-man fronts with just one return- ing starter at linebacker. The line is strongest in the middle, where it boasts junior Darius Latham and redshirt sophomore Nate Hoff. The nose tackle duo combined for five sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year. Junior middle linebacker T.J. Simmons finished second on the squad with 72 tackles last year, and he also notched 6.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He'll combine with promising sophomore Tegray Scales — who posted 46 stops, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, plus tied to lead all Big Ten rook- ies with three interceptions — to solidify the middle of the defense. Junior honorable mention All-Big Ten safety Antonio Allen is the lone returning starter in the secondary. He paced the squad with 74 tackles and also posted a pair of picks, while redshirt sophomore Chase Du- tra tied Scales for the team lead with three interceptions. Redshirt sophomore kicker Griffin Oakes debuted by going 13 of 18 on field goals and tied for the nation's longest kick, with a 58-yarder against Maryland, while fifth-year senior Erich Toth averaged 40.7 yards on his school-record 77 punts. Three winnable games and then a date at Wake Forest open the season, so a quick start will be key to postseason hopes. Notes The anemic passing attack, which finished 120th nation- ally (141.4 yards per game), averaged 8.3 yards per attempt when they were targeting departed wide receiver Shane Wynn; that mark dropped to 4.6 when trying for any other player … All four quarterbacks who took snaps last year return to the roster. ❑ Offense Gives Hoosiers Hope, But Defense Is Still A Major Concern INDIANA • NOV. 14 • GAME 10 2015 SCHEDULE Date Opponent 2014 Result Sept. 5 Southern Illinois — Sept. 12 Florida International — Sept. 19 Western Kentucky — Sept. 26 at Wake Forest — Oct. 3 Ohio State L, 42-27 Oct. 10 at Penn State L, 13-7 Oct. 17 Rutgers L, 45-23 Oct. 24 at Michigan State L, 56-17 Nov. 7 Iowa W, 45-29 Nov. 14 Michigan L, 34-10 Nov. 21 at Maryland L, 37-15 Nov. 28 at Purdue W, 23-16 QUICK FACTS All-Time Series: U-M leads 54-9 First Meeting: U-M 12, IU 0 (Nov. 3, 1900, at Ann Arbor) Last Meeting: U-M 34, IU 10 (Nov. 1, 2014, at Ann Arbor) Head Coach: Kevin Wilson, 14-34 at IU and overall (5th year) Off./Def. Systems: Multiple/Multiple 2014 In Review: 4-8 overall, 1-7 Big Ten (7th East) Final 2014 Ranking: Unranked Returning Starters: 14 (7 offense, 5 defense, 2 specialists) Last Bowl Appearance: 2007 (Insight, vs. Oklahoma State, L 49-33) Big Ten Conference Championships (last): 2 (1967) RETURNING LEADERS Passing: Nate Sudfeld (1,151 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT) Rushing: Zander Diamont (133 yards, 2 TD) Receiving: J-Shun Harris II (168 yards, 2 TD) Tackles: Antonio Allen (74) Sacks: Nate Hoff (3.5) Interceptions: Chase Dutra and Tegray Scales (3) PLAYERS TO WATCH Offense: Jordan Howard, Jr., RB — The UAB transfer should im- mediately front the rushing attack … Set a school record with 1,587 yards last year and scored 14 touch- downs … Ranks second nationally among active players with 451 at- tempts and 107.3 rushing yards per game over last two years. Defense: Antonio Allen, Jr., S — Led team with 74 tackles and was named All-Big Ten honorable mention last fall … Also posted two interceptions, both of which came against Ohio State, and tied his career high in that game with 11 tackles. Senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld is coming off of a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the fi nal six games of 2014. PHOTO BY MIKE DICKBERND/IU ATHLETICS

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