2014 Preview: Defensive Backs

Tim Bennett will lead a veteran defensive back field in the quest to get the Hoosiers to a bowl game Image Source: USAToday.com

Tim Bennett will lead a veteran defensive back field in the quest to get the Hoosiers to a bowl game

Image Source: USAToday.com

Written By Quai Chandler


In today’s College football it is important for a great defense to have a great defensive backfield. The 2013 Indiana Defense was led by returning defensive standouts Mike Hunter and Tim Bennett in the defensive backfield. With a stacked defensive line, the DB’s should have plenty of opportunity to make plays in 2014. With that said, the Hoosiers had a less than consistent defense last year.  Let’s take a look at some specific strengths and weaknesses of the individual players.

Tim Bennett-

Overview

5-9/ 185, Bennett is a Senior who received honorable mention from All-Big Ten Form  - the league’s media.  He was named Indiana’s defensive “Teammate of the Year”.  Bennett led the nation with 20 pass breakups and 21 passes defended.  He is posed to be the staple of the Hosiers defense in 2014.

Strengths

Bennett has incredible change of direction ability; he has long arms, and possibly the best leaping ability on the team. He was a very physical and aggressive defender which made him an intimidating presence when facing the opposing team’s quarterback. Bennett has great anticipation and is a student of the game.  All these attributes should make him one of the best corners in the Big Ten.

Weaknesses

While Bennett’s aggressiveness is strength, it can occasionally become a weakness.  Sometimes this aggressive leads him to overplay double moves, and take unnecessary chances against talented receivers.  It will be interesting to see if he can reign in his aggressive nature and become a more consistent defender.

Mark Murphy-

Overview

Mark Murphy will be the veteran at safety in 2014. Image Source: USAToday.com

Mark Murphy will be the veteran at safety in 2014.

Image Source: USAToday.com

6-2/ 215 Murphy is a Capital One Academic All-American (ninth Hoosier all-time), Capitol One Academic All-district V team member, and Academic All-Big Ten selection. He finished second on the team with 84 tackles.

Strengths

Big, strong and fast, Mark Murphy is one of the most athletic members of the defensive backfield. His knowledge of the defense, as well as his ability to be in the right place at the right time, give Murphy an opportunity to make a difference for the Hoosiers.

Weaknesses

Murphy has had injury difficulties throughout his college career.  If he wants to be the most productive player that he can be, he will have to focus on staying healthy. He also will have to work on an ailing shoulder and a less than aggressive mindset for a strong safety.

Michael Hunter-

Overview

Started all 12 games in 2013…posted 42 tackles, 34 solo, three for loss and an interception.

Strengths

Hunter has both speed and length at the defensive back position. With great ball skills and a smooth, calm demeanor he is a great presence and will help the Hoosiers make plays.

Weaknesses

Maintaining good health is vital for any football player.  If he cannot play, he cannot help his team.  Staying fit and healthy will be absolutely key for Hunter this season. Last season he battled hamstring issues. Simply put, if Hunter cannot stay healthy in 2014, he won’t be able to use his  abilities to help the Hoosiers win games.

Dawson Fletcher-

Overview

6-0-210 , Senior played in 9 games primarily on special teams, posted one tackle in win over Indiana State.

Strengths

Fletcher is another player with an aggressive nature. This, coupled with natural ability to do things effortlessly on a football field, makes Fletcher a threat at all times and enables him to make the big plays that are so important to win the game. Add to that, a relentlessness that many of the greats possess, and you have the makings of a big time player.

Weaknesses

Inexperience is a pivotal reason for mistakes on a football field. This lack of experience is one reason that has kept Dawson away from playing a starting role. It will be interesting to see what he can do in 2014  - his third year in the program.

Antonio Allen-

Overview

Antonio Allen is back after a knee injury ended his 2013 season.  Image Source: Bleacher Report

Antonio Allen is back after a knee injury ended his 2013 season. 

Image Source: Bleacher Report

BTN.com honorable mention All-Big Ten Freshman team. 24 solo tackles and played in 7 games last year with one start at Michigan.

Strengths

Allen is an absolute missile on the football field, just waiting to explode on a poor unsuspecting wide out or running back.  A natural talent- aggressive and fearless with a knack for separating the ball form its carrier.

Weaknesses

Youth and staying healthy are real concerns for Allen.  He is coming off  major Knee surgery last year.

Kenny Mullen-

Overview

5-8/ 180, CB Played in all 12 games at Nickel back and on special teams…made eight tackles with one sack and two pass breakups. He was IU special teams Player of the Week after the 2013 Wisconsin game.

Strengths

Quickness and speed are Kenny Mullen’s best qualities. He has years of experience and a terrific mind-set for the game of football.  These attributes should encourage the coaches to use him at the nickel position.

Weaknesses

Size has been a motivating factor in Mullen’s career, however I have to mention it as a weakness. Listed at 5’10 Mullen has had trouble with tall receivers in the past. Hopefully his physicality and strength can make up for this deficiency.