In 2012 the Indiana Hoosier football team had one of the most prolific offenses in the Big Ten. Lead by a prolific passing attack, they ended up leading the conference with 311 passing yards per game. In 2013 the Hoosiers return ten starters from their offense that was already explosive, and will now have another year under their belt. This should allow for individual development, as well as further cohesiveness as a unit.
Today, we will take a look at the Top-5 offensive players of the 2013 edition of the football Hoosiers. However, if you notice one glaring omission, don't be alarmed. I am excluding the quarterbacks from this list due to the fact that the situation is still not settled yet and all three of them are good enough to be in my Top 5. Don't fret, we will be sure to give you plenty of insight on the quarterback battle as it evolves throughout camp.
1. Stephen Houston, Senior, Running Back
The Hoosier running back has rushed for 1,550 yards combined over the last two seasons. Adding to that an impressive 16 total touchdowns in 2012 alone. Houston came into 2012 with big expectations, but struggled to get going in the run game early on in the year. The senior brings versatility to the table as well, which he displays when Kevin Wilson uses him as a receiver out of the backfield. Heading into the 2013 campaign Houston, who was named to Lindy's 2013 All-Big Ten Third Team, has loftier expectations on his shoulders. The biggest thing holding him back might be his own coaching staff, as he never receives the amount of carries that other Big Ten feature backs do. If Houston can break his early season slumps he very well could become the first Hoosier since 2001 to break the 1,000 yards rushing mark.
2. Cody Latimer, Junior, Wide Receiver
Rising junior Cody Latimer lead the Hoosiers in receiving with 805 yards in 2012. After his exceptional sophomore season, expectations for his 2013 campaign are sky high. In the preseason Latimer was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, coming on the heels of his second-team All-Big Ten performance last year. Latimer has the size, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, to be one of the top receivers in the Big Ten. With his frame Latimer is a legitimate deep threat on every play, while possessing the speed to break shorter routes for big gains. The dynamic passing game in which he succeeds in, could very well be his downfall as well. The coaching staff loves to spread the ball around, and the Hoosiers are loaded at the wide receiver position, therefore Latimer is another player who's numbers might not elevate to their fullest potential due to scheme and depth. With his frame Latimer is a legitimate deep threat on every play and also posses the speed to break a long run off of a short pass.
3. Jason Spriggs, Sophomore, Left Tackle
While the offensive line is a very important unit, it often gets overlooked when breaking down individual talents on a Top Offensive Players list. In this case rising sophomore left tackle Jason Spriggs deserves every bit of the attention that other players on this list receive. Spriggs finished first on the team with 80 pancake blocks while allowing only 2 sacks in 12 starts at what is considered to be the most valuable position along the offensive line. That type of performance earned him Honorable Mention All-Big Ten status as a true freshman. The left tackle is burdened with protecting the blindside of the Hoosier quarterbacks. To make this even more challenging on the freshman he had to work with three different passers, all with different skill sets during his first year on the job. If Spriggs and his fellow linemen can protect the quarterbacks and open holes for Houston in the running game this offense has virtually no limits.
4. Shane Wynn, Junior, Wide Receiver
The diminutive speedster is a do-everything spark plug for the Hoosier offense. He returns kicks, lines up in the slot, and can use his speed to go deep in the passing game. Despite standing at just 5-foot-7 Wynn has the courage to go and get passes across the middle and give up his body for the good of the team. Wynn lead Indiana with 68 receptions for 660 yards and six touchdowns. He is a difference maker who is a threat to take the ball to the house whenever it is in his hands. One decision the Coach Kevin Wilson will have to make is whether or not to continue to utilize Wynn in the return game. He has shown he can be a weapon on special teams, but would WIlson prefer to avoid risking injury, as well a fatigue, so that Wynn could be used to his fullest potential on the offensive side of the ball?
5. Ted Bolser, Senior, Tight End
Touchdown Teddy, as he is affectionally known amongst Hoosier fans, has been a playmaker at the tight end position since his stepped onto campus his freshman year. He now enters his final season in Bloomington as a member of the Mackey Award Watch List, the third consecutive season he has been named to the preseason honor. Bolser is coming off what statistically looks like a down year (446 yards, 3 TD), however, like Latimer, Bolser too loses touches due to the depth of the offense. The senior tight end should be a major focal point of the Hoosier offense in 2013, and not just used as a safety valve for the quarterback to throw to when they find themselves in trouble.
The expectation level for Indiana offense in 2013 is lofty and rightfully so. This unit has the depth and versatility to befuddle defenses all year. The Hoosiers will lean on these five players to lead their offense to the type of season that fans have been dreaming of since the day coach Kevin Wilson was hired.