Written By Quai Chander
The 2014 Indiana Hoosier football team will have to deal with many new faces and changes. There will be new coaches on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball as well as a new direction on special teams. All this will surely bring about new challenges and hopefully much success. While personnel changes on the coaching staff will be a focus for Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson, the largest focus for the Hoosiers will be adjustments on the field.
The first personnel hurdle the Hoosiers face is finding a way to replace major offensive threats Kofi Hughes, Stephen Houston, and tight end Ted Bolser all who graduated last year, and Cody Latimer who left school to enter the NFL draft. These four players were responsible for more than 65% of the Hoosiers offense in 2013. While you can’t say enough about this talented group of players on the field, they will also be missed off the field. The tremendous athletic ability of Hughes, Houston, Bolser and Latimer was augmented by their strength of character and impressive leadership skills. Going forward, the most important feature of a successful young team is having great leaders to set an example and bring consistent work ethic and positive attitude to the day-to-day grind of a season. As well as losing offensive leaders, Coach Wilson will face the challenge of replacing Greg Heban a defensive leader both on the field and in the locker room.
Having players who step up into leadership positions could make all the difference for making 2014 a great year for the Hoosiers.
While the focus this season will be on replacing offensive production, another pending issue is whether or not the Hoosiers have defensive players who will fit the new 3-4 scheme. Every 3-4 scheme looks to have long and athletic outside linebackers who can both drop back into coverage and pass rush. The style of play of Flo Harden who manned the outside linebacker position in 2013 in the old 4-3 scheme, should enable him to make a seamless transition into the new 3-4 system. After a less-than-perfect season defensively last year, improving the defense is the key for the Hoosiers to become a contender for a bowl game in 2014.
It is still too early to form expectations for 2014. The team is in the middle of spring practice, freshman recruits will not arrive on campus until early August, and there are still roles to be determined and positions to be filled. However, what Hoosier Football fans can expect to see is a lot of change and many new faces on the field and on the sidelines. While adjusting to change will be a challenge, it is sure to bring new opportunity and a chance to solidify an ever-changing football culture in Bloomington.