Big Ten: Indiana Hoosiers 2013 Season Review
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Here’s a quick recap of the 2013 Indiana Hoosiers:
Preseason Expectations: Heading into the season, Indiana was picked by most to finish fourth in the Big Ten’s Leaders division and several prognostications had HC Kevin Wilson breaking through for his first bowl appearance.
Overachieve/Underachieve: While they finished fourth in their division, the 2013 Hoosiers fell short of their expectations, as they failed to make a bowl for the sixth-straight season. With eight home games, including seven against teams that finished out of the polls, they should have been good enough to reach six wins. They finished 5-7 overall, 3-5 in conference play.
Pivotal Game: Vs. Minnesota. There are a couple of options here and I could have easily gone with their home loss to Navy in September, but I’m going to put more weight in a conference home game that not only could have spurred the Hoosiers to bowl eligibility, but gotten them to .500 in conference play, which would have made for a very nice season. After trailing 35-13 midway through the third quarter, IU stormed back to take a 39-35 lead before losing 42-39. The defense allowed a 50-yard TD pass and the offense turned the ball over deep in Minnesota territory on an inexplicable backwards-pass fumble just when it looked like they were going to finish the comeback.
Offensive MVP: WR Cody Latimer: The junior, who has declared for the NFL Draft, put up impressive numbers (72 receptions, 1,096 yards, 9 TDs) and he probably could have been even more prolific with consistent QB play. Against Penn State, Illinois and Purdue, Latimer had 27 catches for 439 yards and four TDs, as IU averaged 50.7 points in their three conference wins.
Defensive MVP: OLB David Cooper: The strong-side linebacker was the leader of a young front seven, especially the linebacking corps, which saw three true freshmen get significant playing time this season. Cooper led Indiana with 85 tackles and was second with six tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks. It may not seem like it but without Cooper the IU defense would have been worse and they may have struggled to reach five wins.
Trending: Indiana may have fallen short of reaching their goals, but they are trending upward. After winning just one game in 2011, they improved to 4-8 in 2012 and 5-7 this season. Their three conference wins are also more than Wilson had in his first two seasons combined as headman. Obviously, the fact they were starting from such a low point helps here. But it’s more than that. The offense has big-time playmakers like Latimer and RB Tevin Coleman and while the defense was terrible, the talent has been upgraded; they were just very young in 2013.
Looking to 2014: It’s clearly bowl or bust in Kevin Wilson’s fourth season. There are no more excuses. They need to continue improving otherwise it might be time for a regime change. Gone is DC Doug Mallory (new DC Brian Knorr was named yesterday) and the Hoosiers need to make major strides on the defensive side of the ball. It’s time for some of those highly touted that Wilson has recruited to produce. The offense isn’t the problem but they need to be more consistent when playing against the elite of the Big Ten.
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Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.