2014 Spring Preview: Three Questions on Defense

 Raphael Green and the young Hoosier defense look to become a respectable defense in 2014

Raphael Green and the young Hoosier defense look to become a respectable defense in 2014

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)

The Indiana Hoosiers had one of the worst defenses in the history of the Big Ten last season.  The Hoosiers fired coordinator Doug Mallory and hired Brian Knorr who was successful at Wake Forest the last few years.  The Hoosiers will have a new look, as Knorr will bring the 3-4 defense to Bloomington.  Let’s delve a little deeper into three questions facing this defense as spring practice draws closer.


 The 3-4 defense will create some position changes on the Hoosier defense

The 3-4 defense will create some position changes on the Hoosier defense

1.     Will the Hoosiers be exclusively a 3-4 defense or will Knorr be more multiple?- The Hoosiers will have a new look and the spring is the perfect time to begin installing the new defense.   There are a myriad of benefits to an odd man front, especially in this new age of college football.  It allows you the ability to adjust, adapt and stay balanced. It gives a team versatility.  With a four-man front those with their hands in the ground will be rushing the passer about ninety-percent of the time. However, with four linebackers, a defense can put more speed on the field to attack spread style offenses.  In addition quality linebackers are typically easier to come by on the recruiting trail than their counterparts on the offensive line.  The Hoosiers have enough depth at linebacker with TJ Simmons, David Cooper, Marcus Oliver, and Clyde Newton.  The biggest question is who is going to play the nose tackle position.  Raphael Green is a big body that can naturally fill that role, but there may be transition issues for Darius Latham and the other defensive ends who were recruited for a 4-3 defense.  It cannot get much worse on the defensive side of the ball for the Hoosiers so any change would be welcome.

 The Hoosiers look foreword to the return of hard hitting safety Antonio Allen

The Hoosiers look foreword to the return of hard hitting safety Antonio Allen

2.     Will Antonio Allen be back in top form after his knee injury?- Safety Antonio Allen made the Big Ten All-Freshman team despite playing just half the season.  With the departure of Greg Heban, Allen has the chance to start from the get go.  In only seven games he racked up 35 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.  If he is ready to go for spring practice Allen can take the next step in his development and become an impact player for years to come.  With Allen back to 100% the secondary has a chance to be a strength as Tim Bennett, Michael Hunter, and Mark Murphy all return.  In addition Rashard Fant, who redshirted in 2013, should be in the mix to start at corner.

3.     Does having 10 returning starters mean that Indiana will be better in 2014?- Indiana’s defense cannot get worse than it was in 2013, however the Hoosiers defense has some young talent that was very raw last season.  Another year of lifting and eating in the college program will certainly help players get stronger and bigger.  However, the players will be learning a totally new scheme and that could set them back a little bit.  The young talent and depth will create more competition over the spring and players should be able to push each other to reach high levels of performance.