Written By Sammy Jacobs and T.J. Inman
As the off-season crawls on we look toward the 2018 season and what the Indiana Football program needs to do both on the field and off of it to improve for next year. We have listed a few of the things we think IU Football needs to do.
On-Field Improvements Needed for the Hoosiers to Have a Successful 2018
1. Difference Maker at QB - For IU to return to a bowl game and push through to the next level as a program, they need a difference maker at quarterback. Richard Lagow was an above average FBS quarterback but he was not a difference maker and his complete lack of mobility was a hindrance to the offense. IU will have a quarterback room of Peyton Ramsey, Nick Tronti, Reese Taylor and potentially a JUCO transfer (Terry Wilson ideally) or another freshman. I love the potential and athleticism of Reese Taylor and Peyton Ramsey looked promising before having his quickness compromised by an injury. The Hoosiers need one of these guys to develop and propel the offense.
2. Offensive Line Improvement - The 2017 offensive line was not consistent enough and they struggled to generate a successful rushing attack. Against the better defensive lines on the schedule, the running game often failed to keep defenders out of the backfield and IU's backs didn't stand a chance. The good news? Everyone returns and the Hoosiers talent available and will be more experienced. Wes Martin is a good rock at guard and Coy Cronk is a solid tackle but IU needs a couple more studs to develop. Whether that's improvement from Mackenzie Nworah and Harry Crider or Caleb Jones or the emergence of a freshman like Aiden Rafferty, IU's skill position players will not have a chance to thrive unless the line can be a consistently better unit than it was in 2017.
3. Defensive Takeaways - The Hoosiers finished the season at -7 in turnover margin and they only had 13 takeaways on the season. With a lot of new faces on defense this coming season, the Hoosiers will need to dramatically increase that number if they are to be successful in 2018. I would expect more takeaways just out of sheer luck but you can bet it will be an emphasis all offseason of Tom Allen and his staff. Forcing takeaways not only halts opposing possessions, it can also set the IU offense up in good field position.
4. Youngsters at Linebacker- The Hoosiers graduate Tegray Scales and Chris Covington and will head into the 2018 off-season needing to find some young guns to step up and plug the holes left by the departed seniors. IU has some backers in the recruiting class, but it’d be nice to see Mike McGinnis and Mo Burnam, who redshirted, step up into bigger roles instead of relying on true freshmen.
5. Finish the Recruiting Class Strong- As of the publishing of this article IU’s 2018 recruiting class sits at 40th in the country according to 247 Sports composite’s ranking. That’s pretty good, but the Hoosiers need to close out strong with the early signing period just several weeks away. In order to finish with a top-40 class the Hoosiers will need to land some of their top targets.
Off-field Improvements We'd Like to See at Memorial Stadium
1. Sell Alcohol- It’s time to get off the high horse and bite the bullet for Indiana Athletics and sell alcohol in Memorial Stadium. Several Big Ten schools have taken the plunge including rival Purdue. Schools like Indiana, who struggle to fill their stadiums need the extra revenue to keep up with the big boys in the conference, expect Ohio State already sells alcohol throughout their stadium. IU should be on the cutting edge to find new revenue streams, instead they are watching money walk out the door. For those worried about fans getting too drunk, IU could create ‘Family Sections’ where alcohol could be banned to keep a “friendly atmosphere”.
2. Get Rid of Pass Outs- Another area where IU is decades behind the times. Pass outs are archaic and really hurt both the atmosphere inside Memorial Stadium and IU’s bottom line. Instead of having fans purchase concessions, they head out to their tailgates and re-heat food and grab a cold beverage. If IU wants to do number four on this list and all the other little things that help a football program succeed, they need to get rid of pass outs.
3. Flex-Pay Seating Options- I have heard fans complain about the price of IU tickets, they aren’t necessarily a bad deal, but having a flexible pricing plan may work well to get the casual IU football fan in Memorial Stadium on Saturdays. Seating along the sideline and between the 30-yard lines shouldn’t be the same price as seats in the non-premium section of the north end zone. People in seats are way more valuable than unsold $50-75 tickets.
4. Upgrade Bathrooms, concourses and Concessions at Memorial Stadiums- Memorial Stadium is in dire need of renovation. The concourse is dark and the orange lights make it seem like a garage instead of a football stadium. The bathrooms, while mostly clean are outdated. A quick renovation would go a long way in improving fan experience.
5. Liven up the Pregame Band Performance- The Marching Hundred has to re-think their pre-game routine. It's been virtually the same since I started attending IUFB games in 2003. While there are some staples that should be kept the one aspect that needs to be cut in my opinion is either the playing of the Alma Mater or 'Back Home Again in Indiana'. While both solid songs and steeped in tradition, they are both slow paced. I'd be better off leaving the Alma Mater after the game and keeping 'Back Home'. The latter has much more potential and was excellent prior to the Ohio State game.
Please feel free to add your improvements in the comments section below.