Big Ten football is set to begin and here’s what we know:
It will not go well for Indiana.
Here’s what we suspect: the Hoosiers will not win a conference game and will finish 1-11, which will blast away the honeymoon feelings toward coach Kevin Wilson.
Year One of the Wilson era finds IU football the worst it’s been in a long, long time. Getting manhandled up front by Ball State and North Texas, neither of which reminds anyone of, say, Wisconsin, is a really, really bad sign.
Unless a Big Ten team has seven turnovers, there seems no way it can lose to the Hoosiers.
Yeah, it wasn’t supposed to be this bad. IU under Bill Lynch lost a lot, but not this much and at least it was competitive. This 1-3 stuff is a whole new unwanted level. It hasn’t started this poorly since 2003, when it finished 2-10. It hasn’t had a winless conference season since 1995.
The inability to run or stop the run is disaster in football at any level, and if you’ve seen the Hoosiers play, you know what a disaster it’s been. Defensive coaches have basically opened up every position again. If you don’t practice well, you ain’t playing. They actually started that a couple of weeks ago with the offensive line, benching some veterans and playing freshmen.
The result -- a school-record 20 penalties against South Carolina State.
IU has played 16 true freshmen this season, twice as many as before. If they were all five-star standouts, that might be a good idea. They’re not and, to be frank, some just aren’t ready.
So what’s going on? It seems to boil down to three key areas – lack of strength, technique and attitude. Defensive tackles coach Mark Hagen added poor communication.
Wilson made a big effort to change the strength and conditioning approach. He wanted fitter, faster athletes to better handle his uptempo style. He’s gotten it, but at the reduction in size and, apparently, strength. There’s a reason why NFL linemen are not svelte figures, but can bench press buildings.
So the Hoosiers spent this year leaning up. It likely they will need another year to build muscle up to the point where they can handle the power game.
Technique and attitude can be controlled and improved. Linebacker Jeff Thomas said the Hoosiers have bought into the new coaching style and are determined to get things right, starting Saturday against Penn State (1-3).
We shall see.
Tom Crean has picked the Hoosier Hysteria date and time, and it’s Saturday, Oct. 15. Why is that significant? Because it allows stud recruit Gary Harris of Hamilton Southeastern to attend.
Harris is too good a prospect for the Class of 2012 (he’s a five-star prospect) not to go after with full-bore effort. That includes all the, well, hysteria, that an Assembly Hall crowd of 10,000 or so can muster.
Harris also plays football and has a game that Friday night, Oct. 14. So for the first time, Hoosier Hysteria won’t be held on the first official day of basketball practice, but the next day.
It also will be held after IU plays Wisconsin earlier in the day. If you’ve seen the Hoosiers and the top-10 Badgers play football this season, if you remember what Wisconsin did last year (and that was without a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback), well, some basketball excitement might be just what Cream ‘n Crimson fans need.
Crean tweeted the announcement: “Hoosier Hysteria is Saturday, Oct. 15. Door opens at 6:30 p.m., women at 7:30 p.m. and we are taking the floor at 8.”
Admission is free, but IU officials ask fans to bring a non-perishable food item.
Harris should have recruiting company when he attends. A pair of Class of 2013 prospects -- R.J. Curington and Derek Wills (the No. 23 player in the class) -- are set to be there, as well.
Sorry for the delay in posting. Had a major writing project involving Ancient Sparta -- yes, Ancient Sparta -- to finish. Maybe IU should use some of the Spartan training techniques. It couldn't hurt. Well, actually, it would, but that's a topic for another day.