2009 Opponent Preview: Indiana

Like always, please let me know if I have anything wrong. School websites aren’t always up-to-date post-spring, and there’s usually at least one thing I’ve missed.

Indiana Offense


Kellen Lewis, who was without a doubt Indiana’s best quarterback over the past couple years, and probably the best wide receiver and running threat, is gone after several disciplinary issues finally caught up with him. That leaves Ben Chappell, who started at QB much of last year, to take over under center. He’ll likely be backed up by Teddy Schell and an incoming freshman.

Indiana QBs Passing 2008
Name Comp Att % Yds TD Int Yds/Att
Kellen Lewis 110 193 56.99 1131 6 8 5.86
Ben Chappell 80 153 52.29 1001 4 3 6.54
Mitchell Evans (WR) 2 8 25.00 37 1 0 4.63
Teddy Schell 1 4 25.00 6 0 0 1.50
Indiana QBs Rushing 2008
Name Rush Yds TD Yds/Rush
Kellen Lewis 93 500 3 5.38
Ben Chappell 50 72 3 1.44
Teddy Schell 1 -4 0 -4.00


Behind Chappell, depth is scary for the Hoosiers. I’ve personally never been all that impressed with Chappell himself, and though he averaged more yards per attempt than Lewis did, he’ll never be nearlty the rushing threat that a school like Indiana might need from the QB position. Still, if Chappell continues improving (last year was his first with significant starting time), he could be a good passer.


Marcus Thigpen departs after leading the Hoosiers in rushing (at least from the RB position) over the last three years. However, Indiana has done a pretty good job spreading around the ball, and Bryan Payton has plenty of experience by now. Demetrius McCray and Zach Davos-Walker will also get their fair share of carries.

Indiana RBs Rushing 2008
Name Rush Yds TD Yds/Rush
Marcus Thigpen 94 631 7 6.71
Bryan Payton 79 339 2 4.29
Demetrius McCray 59 214 2 3.63
Zach Davis-Walker 23 106 1 4.61
Trea Burgess 17 54 0 3.18
Indiana RBs Receiving 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Marcus Thigpen 13 235 2 18.08
Bryan Payton 2 23 0 11.50
Demetrius McCray 3 -1 0 -0.33


Last year’s backups do have experience, but they also averaged somewhere between 2 and 3 full yards per carry less than Thigpen in the opportunities they got. This RB unit will likely be even more of a platoon than it was in the recent past, since nobody stands out like Thigpen clearly did, and even with a standout the Indiana coaches didn’t give him the ball as much as they should. The departure of Thigpen also means “bye bye, receiving threat from backfield,” so there’s one less weapon on a Hoosier offense that is desperately seeking them.


Best QB? Gone. Best RB? Gone. Why, let’s move our best WR to defensive back! Sounds dumb, but then, this is why your coach is close to getting fired… from Indiana. Ray Fisher will now be a DB, so even though he’s highlighted as a returning player, don’t expect him to get nearly as many receptions as he did last year. Andrew Means, who was by far a better deep threat, will not return, meaning DeMario Belcher and Terrance Turner are the only truly proven players left on the outside for the Hoosiers. Tandon Doss will step up in the slot for IU.

Indiana Receivers Receiving 2008
Name Rec Yds TD Yds/Rec
Ray Fisher 42 373 5 8.88
Andrew Means 34 450 1 13.24
DeMario Belcher 25 337 2 13.48
Terrance Turner 29 289 0 9.97
Tandon Doss 14 186 1 13.29
Mitchell Evans (DB) 9 129 0 14.33
Brandon Walker-Roby 7 54 0 7.71
Max Dedmond (TE) 6 51 0 8.50
Matt Ernest 3 18 0 6.00
Kellen Lewis (QB) 2 17 0 8.50
Chris Banks 1 8 0 8.00
Brad Martin (TE) 1 6 0 6.00
Collin Taylor 1 3 0 3.00


I still don’t get it. “We lost all of our other offensive weapons, so let’s move the best remaining guy to defense.” If you can explain this line of thought to me, please do. Maybe they’ve given up on offense and are hoping to win games with defense. Anyway, expect Belcher’s YPC numbers to go way down as he’s the main threat that defenses can count on. Considering Terrance Turner didn’t have high YPC numbers even when he wasn’t the #2 receiver, don’t expect great things out of him either. Fisher will likely moonlight on offense, or even switch back full-time, if defensive back depth is any indication.

Offensive Line


This may be the bright spot for the Hoosiers on offense. If I’m reading their depth chart correctly, they didn’t even play a single senior on the line last year. Senior Pete Saxon played in every game, despite injuries, and he’ll be back along the interior in 2009, after seeing time as both center and guard last year. Enormous redshirt junior James Brewer will probably a starter on the interior, which he was before suffering a season-ending injury last year. Senior Rodger Saffold will return at left tackle, and the other book-end is redshirt junior Mike Stark. Redshirt junior Cody Faulkner will return for his second season at right guard. Jarrod Smith started most of last year, but he has moved to DT. Redshirt senior and Junior Mike Reiter and Alex Perry (respectively) will also get time on the OL.


The Hoosiers have set school rushing records over the past couple years, so the offensive line is nothing to be trifled with. Especially since no contributors leave, they should be a force to be reckoned with. Of course, the rushing records may have had more to do with Kellen Lewis and Marcus Thigpen than the line itself. Still, they have experience, and you can’t fault them for being up front when the Hoosiers had some great players in the backfield.

Offensive Analysis

So, the pieces up front are certainly in place for Indiana, it’s just a question of how they move the ball with their skill players. The switch from a read-option with Kellen Lewis to a pistol with Ben Chappell is a fairly significant change, and it’s the first year in this system for everyone – coaches included. They should be able to grind out the ball a bit with the downhill rushing attack, but Chappell will need to improve and find some targets to keep defenses honest.

Indiana Defense

Defensive Line

DT Greg Brown was an important part of this defensive line over the past couple years, and he’s certainly not there to plug the middle anymore. Additional pain is caused by the loss of the other tackle, Ryan Marando. Still, Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton are a fairly formidable pair of defensive ends. Deonte Mack and Terrance Thomas will have to step up in the middle.

Name Tack TFL Sack Fum
Jammie Kirlew 74 19.5 10.5 0
Greg Brown 37 4.5 0 0
Ryan Marando 28 6.5 3.5 1
Deonte Mack 21 2.5 2 0
Greg Middleton 18 5 4 0
Keith Burrus 17 1 0 0
Terrance Thomas 6 0 0 0
Fred Jones 4 0 0 0
Kevin Burrus 2 0 0 0
Eric Thomas 1 0 0 0
Jeff Boyd 1 0 0 0


Thomas is slightly undersized for a tackle (265 pounds), so the Hoosiers might not plug the middle much. They may get better penetration from the DTs in years past, though. The big question with Middleton is “what have you done for me lately?” As a sophomore, he had an All-American-caliber year, and was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks award. This is good. Last year, he finished with a third of the tackles and a quarter of the sacks from the previous year. Can he return to sophomore form? IU’s defense may depend on it.


This is a fairly strong linebacking corps for the Hoosiers, returning their top two tacklers, and the player was only 12 tackles behind the departed player. Tyler Replogle, Matt Mayberry, and Will Patterson will carry the load for Indiana. Mayberry is the man in the middle for IU.

Name Tack TFL Sack Int Fum
Matt Mayberry 89 8.5 5 0 0
Will Patterson 55 8.5 1.5 1 0
Geno Johnson 50 4 1 0 0
Tyler Replogle 38 1 1 0 1
Justin Carrington 28 0.5 0.5 0 0
Darius Johnson 13 0 0 0 0
Jerry Williams 5 0 0 0 0
Leon Beckum 2 0 0 0 0


This should be a strength for the Hoosiers, as the linebacker group, while a little light on stats last year, was far from a weakness. They’ll probably have more to deal with in the way of offensive linemen this year, as the young tackles in front of them will struggle to plug the front.

Defensive Backs

Chris Adkins will probably move to safety for his redshirt senior year, as Richard Council is already one of the starting corners, and Ray Fisher has moved over from wide receiver, and I don’t think even the Indiana coaches are dumb enough to move their best wide receiver to backup defensive back. Polk will be the other starter at safety in his redshirt senior year. Jerimy Finch, onetime Michigan commit and erstwhile Florida linebacker, will play a key reserve role for the Hoosiers. Austin Thomas will play a key reserve role as well. In fact, I rescind my previous statement. Adkins will stay at corner, and the IU coaches are indeed stupid enough to move Ray Fisher from starting WR to reserve defensive back.

Name Tack TFL Sack Int
Joe Kleinsmith 56 1 0 0
Chris Adkins 54 2 0 0
Nick Polk 52 1.5 0 1
Richard Council 45 0 0 0
Brandon Mosley 43 0 0 1
Austin Thomas 41 2 0 2
Donnell Jones 20 1 0 1
Chris Phillips 11 1 0 0
Jerimy Finch 6 0 0 0
Adrian Burks 4 0 0 0
Mitchell Evans 2 0 0 0
Jarrell Drane 2 0 0 0
Bruce Hampton 1 0 0 0
Andre LaGrone 1 0 0 0


Despite losing their top tackler, safety Joe Kleinsmith, the Hoosiers return a lot of players with significant time under their belts in the secondary. They have more depth than quality starters, of course, but they won’t struggle as much in the secondary as they do along the defensive line, if they can manage to replace Kleinsmith.

Defensive Analysis

The Hoosiers are going to be weak up front, barring a resurgent year from Greg Middleton in which he simply destroys all comers. However, the linebackers should be better than they were last year, and the defensive secondary has much more depth than 2008, if nothing else. If Joe Kleinsmith’s production at safety can be replaced, the secondary should improve as well. Here come the qualifiers: Rushing defense 2008 was 91st, and pass efficiency was 106th in the nation. Better than “horrible” generally means “pretty bad.”

Special Teams

One of IU’s all-time leading scorers departs in Austin Starr. Nick Ford, a redshirt junior who kicked all of one extra point last year, is the only other guy with some experience. Punter Chris Hagerup returns.

Indiana Kicking 2008
Name XPM XPA % FGM FGA % Long
Austin Starr 27 29 93.10 10 17 58.82 46
Nick Ford 1 1 100.00 0 0 0 0
Indiana Punting 2008
Name Punts Yds Avg
Chris Hagerup 61 2586 42.39
Kellen Lewis (QB) 3 92 30.67


Hagerup is a pretty good punter, so as long as his leg doesn’t fall off from fatigue halfway through the year, that should be solid. As far as kicking goes, Starr is going to be tough to replace. However, there is little indication of how good Ford might be, so he’s a complete wildcard. It’s probably safe to assume slightly less good than Starr, despite Starr’s off-year in 2008.

Overall Analysis

I predict pain. No particular reason, other than “You lost basically everyone of note from your mediocre offense, and a couple key pieces on your awful defense.” Kellen Lewis was the engine that made the Indiana train go last year, though the Hoosiers did manage to upset jNWU (just NorthWestern University) without him. Still, uh, they’ve got no playmakers left on offense, and the defense, while deep, doesn’t have the quality to keep opposition from scoring, and lots.

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4 Comments so far

  1. John M says...

    A solid and fair preview. My only quibbles are:

    1) I think you are too tough on the decision to move Fisher. Fisher is a solid receiver, but he’s also quite undersized at 5-9 (not great for a DB, either, but less of an impediment). For IU to have any hope on offense, Damarlo Belcher (6-5) and Terrence Turner (6-3) have to be good. In other words, if Ray Fisher is our #1 receiver we are screwed anyway. If Belcher and Turner live up to their potential, then Fisher is doing more good on defense than he would be doing as the #3 guy. I’m far from a Bill Lynch apologist and I give better than even odds that he will be unemployed in 6 months, but I think this move is reasonable and defensible.

    2) IU’s line was young last year, but was terrible. The line was ravaged by injury, so there is reasonable hope for improvement, but IU’s good rushing numbers were almost entirely related to the speed of Marcus Thigpen.

    3) You would have no way of knowing this unless you paid more attention to our program than we deserve, but redshirt freshman Darius Willis, Indiana’s 2007 Mr. Football and a top-shelf recruit by our standards, is expected to be in the mix at RB. Also, IU has an incoming freshman kicker named Mitch Ewald who was considered by some services a top 5 prospect, so the PK position may not be as dire as it looks.

    Overall, well done.

  2. Phil says...

    Overall very good, an addition quibble might be DL. Thomas is a back up DE, not tackle. We have 3 DT’s that redshirted last year (all better sized at 285-300) that will be a factor. That certainly may not be enough, but the outlook isn’t quite as bleak

  3. Jimmy says...

    As John said, if we were planning on relying on Fisher at WR, we would be screwed. He mostly caught passes off of bubble screens. We actually do have a lot of young talent at WR (including Duwyce Wilson, a 6’4 true freshman). Fisher is a good athlete and played CB in high school, so I have problem with the move.

    Also, Mitch Ewald (Rivals has him as the #3 K in the 09 class) will likely be our kicker.

    And Thomas is a DE.

  4. Ray P says...

    Kleinsmith was at safety 08 after Austin Thomas’ ACL injury. AT leading tackler in 07 and known as hardest hitter out there so unless problems with rehab, he’s starting SS in 09. Agree with others re Fisher…think he will be more efficient there and we will see someone else a better fit at WR and more use of TE


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