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Indiana didn't finish 2015 with a winning record, but the Hoosiers at least made a bowl game, and that ended up being the only reason why they finished below .500 after losing to Duke 44-41. Still, four of their wins were against weaker non-conference teams, and none of them came easy. They had just two wins in Big Ten play and will have to do better this season to make a bowl game with nine conference games.
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The first order of issue for the Hoosiers is finding a new quarterback to replace Nate Sudfeld, who held that role for a few years despite injuries. The race is between Zander Diamont, who has experience, as well as transfer Richard Lagow and Danny Cameron. That battle will likely be ongoing into the fall, with whomever winning the job having big shoes to fill.
But as usual with Indiana's offense, they'll have a stud at running back with Devine Redding (1,012 yards, 9 TDs) stepping into the lead role after running roughshod over the final three games last year, including 227 yards and a touchdown in the bowl loss. Receiver is set as well with last season's leaders all returning in Simmie Cobbs (1,035 yards, 4 TDs), Ricky Jones (906 yards, 5 TDs) and Mitchell Paige (684 yards, 6 TDs). Not many teams in the Big Ten have the level of skill players returning as Indiana does. The offensive line is also in good hands with All-American guard Dan Feeney leading the unit to go with tackles Dimitric Camiel and Brandon Knight. While they are breaking in a new quarterback, the ground game should keep the offense afloat in the early going.
But as is always the case with Indiana, the defense is a major issue, as seen in the many times they gave up 40-plus points last year. The Hoosiers bring in yet another new coordinator with Tom Allen taking over, who comes from South Florida. He'll implement a 4-2-5 defense with hopes of allowing less than the 37.1 points per game they did a year ago.
The secondary was gashed as usual in 2015, but most of those players return with valuable experience. Cornerback Rashard Fant is at the head of that turnaround as well as Andre Brown. Safety Chase Dutra will also be important to the secondary showing improvement. Elsewhere, the Hoosiers have some major holes to fill on the defensive line where all their starters are gone. Maybe the best news for Indiana is that linebacker T.J. Simmons returns, who leads the group.
Once again, Indiana will have to win all of its non-conference games to have a shot at a bowl berth, and that's not out of the question. Unfortunately, their opening Big Ten slate isn't too pretty with Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska and Northwestern right off the bat. From there, things get a bit easier for the Hoosiers and it may come down to an upset or two against teams like Nebraska or Penn State for them to get past that six-win mark.
Indiana won't be competing to win the Big Ten title, but the Hoosiers have steadily improved under Kevin Wilson and will be looking to win their first bowl game in a long time. That starts with finding a quarterback and bettering the defense.
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2016 Indiana Hoosiers Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Florida International
Sept 10 vs. Ball State
Sept. 24 vs. Wake Forest
Oct. 1 vs. Michigan State
Oct. 8 at Ohio State
Oct. 15 vs. Nebraska
Oct. 22 at Northwestern
Oct. 29 vs. Maryland
Nov. 5 at Rutgers
Nov. 12 vs. Penn State
Nov. 19 at Michigan
Nov. 26 vs. Purdue
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