2019 Opponent Unit Rankings: Quarterbacks

Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

We are closing in on the final opposing unit rankings of the 2019 pre-season. Today we are taking a look at the quarterbacks that IU is going to face on their journey through the 2019 schedule. There will be some familiar faces, but many new players will take snaps against the Hoosiers.

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First Glance: Hoosiers Open Critical November at Home versus Northwestern

Image:  David Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Image: David Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Written by T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)

Week Ten Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

After two very difficult road games (at Maryland and at Nebraska), IU returns home for another crossover game. On November 2, the Hoosiers begin the final month of the regular season by welcoming the defending Big Ten West champion Northwestern Wildcats to Bloomington. This will be the last game before Indiana’s final bye week and the Hoosiers could really use a win heading into the final three contests of the campaign. The Hoosiers and Wildcats last played in 2016 with Northwestern beating Kevin Wilson’s final squad 24-14. Northwestern has won five in a row against Indiana and the last time the Hoosiers knocked off the Wildcats was a 2008 win in Bloomington (21-19 on October 25).

Week Ten:  Northwestern Wildcats

Date & Time: Saturday, November 2, Time: TBA

Venue: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana

TV: TBA

Wildcats at a Glance

Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald

Entering his 14th season as a head coach, 14th season at Northwestern

Overall Record (all at Northwestern): 96-70

Last Season: 9-5 (8-1 in B1G)

Wildcats Returning Leaders

Passing: TJ Green (20-36 for 169 yards)

Rushing: Isaiah Bowser (866 yards on 197 carries with six TDs)

Receiving: Bennett Skowronek (45 catches for 562 yards with three TDs)

Tackles: Blake Gallagher (127 tackles)

Wildcats Preseason Predictions

Athlon’s: 4th in the  Big Ten West

Lindy’s: 4th in the Big Ten West

Phil Steele:T-4th in the Big Ten West

Street & Smith’s: 4th in the Big Ten West

S&P+ Projections: 5.5 wins (57th nation)

Impact Newcomers for the Wildcats

1. Hunter Johnson – QB – The former five-star prospect from Indiana knew he wasn’t going to be playing in front of Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Before last season began, Johnson opted to transfer back to the Midwest and chose Northwestern as his new school. He is 6’2” and more than 200 pounds. It is highly likely that he will be QB1 for the Wildcats over returning contributor TJ Green.

2. Genson Hooper-Price – WR – The freshman from Houston was a borderline four-star prospect that is 6’4” and looks physically to contribute. The Wildcats have a fairly deep receiving corps with Bennett Skowronek and Riley Lees leading the way but Hooper-Price will have the chance to break into the rotation.

3. Khalid Jones II – LB – Northwestern has two outstanding linebackers but they are going to be searching for a third piece to play in the middle of Blake Gallagher and Paddy Fisher. Redshirt freshman Khalid Jones might just be that guy. He was the one of their top recruits in 2018 and is just shy of 230 pounds.

Offensive Preview

Despite going 8-1 in the Big Ten and winning the West division, the 2018 Northwestern offense was not impressive. The Wildcats were 108th in total offense and 100th in scoring. They were not particularly good through the air or on the ground (finishing last in the Big Ten in rushing). They will hope that new quarterback Hunter Johnson will spark life into the attack. The former Clemson Tiger is now in Evanston and it is very likely he’ll take over as the starter for the departed Clayton Thorson. TJ Green saw some spot duty last season but Johnson has a much higher ceiling. The former 5-star prospect can hurt opponents with his legs and with his arm but we have yet to see him in extended action at the college level so the position remains a bit of a question mark until it can actually be proven on the field. Johnson will be paired with tailback Isaiah Bowser, one of the more impressive offensive players in the second half of the 2018 Big Ten season. He finished shy of 1,000 yards but his workload was very small until he took over for Jeremy Larkin (retired) a few games into the season. Bowser is a dangerous weapon and the Wildcats also have veteran John Moten IV. Bennett Skowronek leads a deep receivers group but they will miss top target Flynn Nagel. Riley Lees, Kyric McGowan and freshmen Genson Hooper-Price and Brycen Kirtz provide depth but I think questioning if there are real difference makers is fair. Superback is a major concern after the early retirement of Cameron Green, the team’s third-leading receiver in 2018.

The biggest issue for the offense is on the offensive line. They allowed the most sacks in the conference in 2018 (36) and now have to replace three starters and their long-time position coach (who is now the head coach of IU opponent Eastern Illinois). Rashawn Slater is really good and he’s switching from right tackle to left tackle and they bring back their center but Northwestern will need several inexperienced linemen to step up.

Defensive Preview

The strength of the Northwestern Wildcats should continue to be the defense. The Wildcats have a pair of stars at linebacker and a terrific defensive end in Joe Gaziano plus a veteran secondary and good depth. Northwestern is 15-1 in their past 16 Big Ten West games and the success can largely be attributed to the defense (and being highly efficient in the red zone). In addition to Joe Gaziano, Samdup and Alex Miller (brothers) and possibly Jake Saunders. The weak spot is likely to be the interior and whether or not the Wildcats can successfully stop the run. If the middle of the line can be adequate, it will give the terrific linebackers the opportunity to shine. Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher (the Big Ten’s leading tackler in 2018) play on the outside and form one of the best duos in the country. Chris Bergin and redshirt freshman Khalid Jones will battle for the middle linebacker spot. The secondary has to replace a pair of starters, including All-Big Ten corner Montre Hartage but they do have quite a bit of experience returning. Safety JR Pace is the best of the unit and a number of corners have gotten snaps.

Special Teams Preview

Charlie Kuhbander was hurt for part of 2018 but he should be ready to go for the 2019 season and he’ll be the kicker and punter for the Wildcats. The return game doesn’t figure to be much of a factor for Northwestern but Riley Lees is likely the returner.

 

2019 Opponent Unit Ranking: Running Back

2019 Opponent Unit Ranking: Running Back

2019 Indiana Opponent Rankings – Running Back

Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)

Hoosier Huddle’s 2019 season preview coverage continues. The opponent rankings series is one of the staples of our look ahead at the season. Today’s focus shifts to the backfield and ranks the running back groups the Indiana Hoosiers defense will need to stop during the 2019 campaign. IU has some questions on the defensive line, specifically with the depth of the interior, and the run defense could be a key factor in determining whether or not the Hoosiers go bowling.

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Opponent Unit Rankings: Special Teams

Opponent Unit Rankings: Special Teams

Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

2019 Opposing Special Teams Rankings

Welcome back to our opponent unit ranking series. Today we will are ranking the special teams units for each of the Indiana Hoosiers’ opponents during the 2019 regular season. We will consider each phase of special teams (kicking, punting, punt return and coverage and kickoff return and coverage).

Since we don’t rank IU in this, I will tell you where I would put them. The Hoosiers would be right, smack in the middle of this ranking. Kicker Logan Justus is very solid and Charles Campbell could be used as a capable kicker as well. Haydon Whitehead is a really good punter as well. The questions for IU come in the return and coverage games. Can they find a replacement for J-Shun Harris who was an All-Big Ten punt returner? Will someone breathe life into the kickoff return unit? Finally, can they fix whatever plagued them late in the year on kickoff coverage?

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2019 Opponent Unit Ranking: Defensive Lines

2019 Opponent Unit Ranking: Defensive Lines

Written by Amanda Pavelka

The Hoosier Huddle team will be ranking the position groups for each one of Indiana’s opponents. Today we will outline each one of the Defensive Lines that the Hoosiers will face in the upcoming season.

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2019 Opponent Unit Ranking: Defensive Backs

2019 Opponent Unit Ranking: Defensive Backs

Written by Evan McShane (@veryreasonable)

Hoosier Huddle will be ranking the position groups of every team on Indiana’s schedule. Today we will take a look at defensive backs. The Big Ten is home to some of the best secondary units in the country, and the Hoosiers will face some the toughest of the crop. The Hoosiers will miss Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin out of the West division therefore they will not be included in our rankings.

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Post Spring Big Ten Power Rankings

Post Spring Big Ten Power Rankings

Written by Evan McShane (@veryreasonable)

As spring practice wraps up around the Big Ten we wanted to talk a look, albeit a blurry one, at how the teams in the conference stand today. Spring is a tricky time to rank teams since graduated seniors and players leaving early are not practicing and most incoming freshmen have not arrived on campus yet. Here is how we see the Big Ten heading into the summer portion of the off-season.

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