Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
Expectations can be a funny thing. They can either ignite a fire under a fan base or drive them away like a plague. This will be a very different Indiana football team that takes the field on August 30th against Indiana State. Gone are both coordinators. Defensive boss Doug Mallory was fired in January and replaced with Brian Knorr, while offensive coordinator Seth Littrel left Bloomington for Chapel Hill. The offense should not look too different scheme wise as Kevin Wilson promoted from within as Kevin Johns now takes the reigns. However, the Hoosiers lose a multitude of talent as they lose four 1,000-yard receivers in Kofi Hughes, Cody Latimer, Duwyce Wilson and Ted Bolser, as well as their second string running back in Stephen Houston.
So what should be the realistic expectations for the 2014 edition of Indiana Football? It definitely should be playing in a bowl game. This is year four of the Kevin Wilson era and each year he has taken a step, albeit very small steps, forward. The Hoosiers won one game in 2011, four games in 2012, and five games in 2013. It is time for the next step to be taken.
With the conference once again realigning, the Hoosiers find themselves in the extremely tough East Division. The schedule will not do them any favors in conference play, but that does not mean that six wins are out of the question. The non-conference slate is much easier than last season even though two of them are road games with Bowling Green and Missouri. Indiana should go (must go) at least 3-1 in order to have a real shot at becoming bowl eligible. If they can do this that means they only need to match last year’s conference win total of three. If you look at the conference slate there are three very winnable games on paper. The Hoosiers should knock off Maryland, Rutgers, and Purdue. Will they? No one knows.
As for the Hoosier personnel, the cupboard is far from bare. Indiana returns two quarterbacks who have proved they can start at the Big Ten level (we’ll return to this later in the summer), a running back, Tevin Coleman, who scored a touchdown in every game he played in, an experienced offensive line, and Shane Wynn who will have to step up to fill the shoes of the departed talent in the receiving corps. The defense returns some talent as well with 10 of 11 starters returning, and they have the personnel to fit nicely into the new 3-4 defense that Brian Knorr will bring to the table.
There should be a lot of pressure on Kevin Wilson and his staff this season to get to the next level. Hoosier Nation is hungry for a winner, but fans are quick to jump ship and an early non-conference loss will likely doom them as it did in 2013. Reaching a bowl game should be the ultimate goal for the 2014 season, how the Hoosiers will attain this mark is anyone's guess.