The Crimson Quarry is under new management. As you no doubt know, John and I were often at loggerheads when it comes to the Indiana-Purdue rivalry, but Adam Johnson recently took over for John as the new manage at Crimson Quarry. He has the task of writing about an athletics program that may struggle in football, but is coming off of a pretty good year with a National title in soccer and a CWS appearance in baseball. He was kind enough to answer my questions about this year's Indiana football team that could be the Hoosiers' best in awhile:
T-Mill: The Indiana offense is legitimately scary this year. Is there enough of a defense to make IU dangerous, especially with a pretty favorable early schedule?
Adam: The Indiana offense is a given. It's going to be good, but the defense expectations are still very uncertain. While I expect it to be better than last year, That is purely because of more experience and talent being added. However, it is still unproven added talent and the returning experience aren't exactly rock stars. They should be statistically better especially early on where they should win at least 3 of their 4 non-conference games. But I'm not willing to say they'll be even average. We're just hoping for not historically bad.
Adam: That is the million dollar question. Tre Roberson is certainly a major talent, but he's far from a traditional quarterback that Kevin Wilson has worked with most in his career. He was the worst of the three in the spring game, but that was still early into his recovery. I could see any of Cam Coffman, Roberson and Nate Sudfeld getting the job, but the smart money would say that Roberson gets the first crack at it due to the potential we've seen in the past.
T-Mill: Am I wrong in thinking Stephen Houston can be one of the top running backs in the Big Ten?
Adam: Yes, but no. I think you're wrong in the sense that he's going to get enough opportunity to be one of the best in the conference. But you're right that it's in him. Indiana has always been a run via the pass kind of team where they use quick outs instead of running backs to get into space. However, we could see an adjustment if Houston continues to show that he's capable. The problem has always been that you can't trust the Hoosier line to consistently perforate a line for a RB to punch a hole. A lot of young talent has come in on the offensive line and if they can hold it together then we may see a change there.
T-Mill: Does Kevin Wilson have to reach a bowl game this season for him to avoid the whispers that often happen after three straight bowl-less years?
Adam: There's always going to be whispers. We're a fickle fan base, even with the apathetic football crowd. Wilson came into a similar situation that Tom Crean did in basketball. He sent a good portion of the team packing in his first season and most of those were the best players on the team. He didn't blow the team up overnight like Crean did but progressively through the season. So people don't tend to recognize what kind of roster Wilson finally settled with. It wasn't good. Still after a one win season, people were talking about how he's terrible. So, yeah, that's the long way of telling you that no bowl game would make the whispers audible. I think we're in a good spot to get to a bowl, but if we just miss out by a game or so it won't be the end of the world. Kevin Wilson will still be Indiana's coach and they'll still be a better team going into 2014 than 2013.
T-Mill: What are your thoughts on having the only protected cross-divisional rivalry in the Big Ten?
Adam: Well aren't we special. From the chatter I'm hearing it is because both Burke and Glass refused to accept a switch in divisions without protecting this game. For someone who isn't entirely sold on a lot of traditions, I'm very happy they bet the farm to keep this one. Whether it is competitive or not, direct competition between our two schools are always fantastic. Hell, it could be a competition in applying mascara to a clown and if Purdue and IU are going head to head, I'm watching it.
T-Mill: What improvements do you expect on defense?
Adam: The biggest improvement on defense is going to be up the gut. We couldn't stop the run to save our lives over the last couple years and I expect that to be less true this season. While I love me some Adam Replogle (now a UDFA with the Falcons) and Larry Black Jr. they weren't world beaters at DT. They were our defense's performance leaders last year but that was due more to volume than quality. I think we're going to have some bigger guys that can compete at a Big Ten level in the middle this year, which if anything should help eat space. I can't remember the last time we had a DT top 300 lbs and now we have 4 of them. I also expect the linebackers with a little more experience under their belt to be able to fill the gaps appropriately. Something they missed on a lot last year. Overall though, I do expect every position to show some marked improvement. They only got more experienced and return everyone but last year's DTs.