INDIANA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | SECTION F
Reason to believe
F2 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
Scales, Fant anchor an IU defense looking to go from good to great
By Mike Miller 812-331-4369 | email@example.com
om Allen is a simple man. He simply wants to know who believes and who doesn’t. So when he was the defensive coordinator last August, he stood at the front of Indiana’s team room and presented each Hoosier defender with a 3x5 note card. Allen passed out the cards with an initial instruction: predict Indiana’s final regular season record for 2016. Allen’s Hoosier defenders followed orders. “OK,” Allen said. “Now that you guys have written down our record, I’m assuming you didn’t put us down at 12-0. If you did, that’s great. But it’s hard to go 12-0 at any place. So now, whatever number you put down in the loss column, now I want you to write down the names of the schools that we’re gonna lose to.” Stunned, the room stared at Allen. He didn’t flinch. “I’m serious,” he said. “I want to know who you think we’re gonna lose to. Write it down. Don’t put your name on it. I don’t really care who says it. I just want to know which teams you think we’re not gonna beat.” Scores of Hoosiers put pen to paper once again, scribbling names of schools at the top of the Big Ten food chain. A few moments passed
“They’re the heart of the defense. That’s pretty much what it comes down to.” RICHARD LAGOW, Indiana quarterback, on senior linebacker Tegray Scales and senior cornerback Rashard Fant
and Allen collected the cards. He flipped through the pile and saw the familiar names. Ohio State. Michigan State. You get the idea. “OK,” Allen said. “For those of you that put down Ohio State as one of our losses for this season, when we go to get on the bus to go to Columbus, you’re not coming. I don’t want you. If you don’t believe that we can beat Ohio State, don’t get on the bus.” Silence. “For those of you that put down Michigan State, we play them at home this year,” Allen said. “So when that game rolls around, just stay in your dorm, because I don’t want you near me. It’s not personal. I don’t dislike you as a young man, but I want a football team that believes.” There it was, the central tenet of Allen’s
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IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THE HERALD-TIMES | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | F3
HOOSIERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE F2
coaching philosophy. Belief. There are other qualities he demands — toughness, love and accountability among them. But belief registers highest in his ethos of football. Linebacker Tegray Scales believed. Cornerback Rashard Fant did, too. Together, they carried a defense that had previously known little more than embarrassment and turned it into a point of pride. As Indiana’s defense transformed from one of the worst groups in the country, ranked No. 120 in total defense in 2015, into the No. 45 overall unit, Scales and Fant transformed with it — on and off the field. “Be the reason,” Allen says. Be the reason IU’s defense wins the close games and delivers a winning season. Scales and Fant believed it from the beginning and pulled others with them. Now, the 2017 objective is clear: become a top 25 defense. It’s not an easy mission, but Scales and Fant are adamant it can — and will — happen. They believe. Others believe in them.
Getting defensive Yearly numbers for IU defensive leaders Tegray Scales and Rashard Fant:
TEGRAY SCALES, 6-0, 230, SENIOR, LB Year Solo Ast 2014 29 17 2015 40 24 2016 93 33 Totals 162 74
Tot TFL Sacks 46 4.5-14 2-11 64 5.5-21 3-13 126 23.5-69 7-44 236 33.5-104 12-68
RASHARD FANT, 5-10, 180, SENIOR, CB Year Solo Ast 2014 21 2 2015 48 4 2016 9 4 Totals 98 10
Tot 3 52 33 108
Int 0 1-0 3-68 4-68
PBU 5 22 17 44
“They’re the heart of the defense,” IU quarterback Richard Lagow said. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to.”
Tipping the Scales
When Scales speaks, Hoosiers listen. When the Indiana linebacker shows up unannounced at their homes, they run. That was quarterback Richard Lagow last week, when Scales surprised him with
a visit. Lagow was outside throwing away trash only to see Scales pull up, hop out of the car and chase him around the housing complex. “He’s a weird dude,” Lagow said with a smile, “but I love him to death.” Scales might be weird in the sense he is willing to be different. He is, as one of the most experienced and tested players in Indiana’s locker room, willing to shoulder leadership responsibilities and say what must be said and do what must be done. Late last season, Scales made a point to be among the first players on the practice field each morning. He did so with a purpose. Arriving early allowed Scales to snatch the megaphone Allen uses to bark instructions. Scales used the megaphone for a different objective. He’d greet players with yells of “Let’s Go Hoosiers!” as they walked from the North End Zone tunnel onto the fields, challenging teammates regarding their grasp of the game plan. “That’s the accountability piece,” linebackers coach William Inge said. “That’s when you let your teammates know that you’re willing to do everything that we need to do.” Scales is his own toughest critic. Inge knows best.
Some nights last fall, Inge’s phone rang with his star linebacker on the other end. “Hey, coach,” Scales would say. “I want to be able to do this. I’m trying to get this. Is this correct?” When he arrived as defensive coordinator prior to last season, Allen asked for accountability from each of his players. With Scales, Allen demanded it. Scales’ sophomore season wasn’t what it could’ve been. After earning true freshman All-American honors in 2014, Scales’ 2015 campaign struggled to get off the ground. He was suspended for the season opener, he played through injuries and he never took the next step as a performer, playing in 11 games but starting only one. “He did not play to the standard that we expected him,” Allen said. “Even though I wasn’t here, just talking to the coaches and watching him play, (he wasn’t where) he was expected to play at. So we had to change the way he prepared.” That change included getting Scales to become more vocal on and off the field. Scales always had the ability to talk, to grab others and take them where they needed to go. Until Allen demanded he do so, Scales was simply unsure of where SEE HOOSIERS | PAGE F4
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F4 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
HOOSIERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE F3
to begin or what to say. What a difference a year makes. Now, Scales is half linebacker, half motivational speaker. “Once Coach Allen wanted me to become more of a verbal leader, then it started flowing out,” Scales said. “Once it came out for the first time, it was just natural. I just never did it (before last season). I was younger, playing with older guys, so I didn’t really have to say a lot. Then, when it was my turn, it was kind of natural.” For Scales’ teammates, it was impossible to not listen. “Everybody gravitates to him,” Fant said. “He sets the standard, and we follow him, whether it’s in workouts, being first in all his races or whoever he’s competing against, and giving his all out there. We know he’s gonna bring his best every day.” And bring others with him. IU defensive end Greg Gooch says seeing Scales’ approach to practice and his desire to lead has a positive effect on every Hoosier. Scales, whether he’s talking or performing, pushes everybody to do more. Scales also provides a blueprint for others to follow. Last year, during his first season with the program, Lagow admits he was “swimming” as he tried to catch up with his teammates, build rapport and command the playbook. After the season, Scales was among the people in IU’s program who rallied behind his quarterback and propped him up entering their shared senior year. “Me and Tegray’s relationship has grown a lot,” Lagow said. “He’s one of my best friends on the team.” Other Hoosiers share that sentiment. Often stoic, Scales is often referred to as one of the most interesting characters on Indiana’s team. Sometimes, he’s cracking jokes. Other times, he’s setting the tone for practice or games. Scales also fancies himself a “love doctor,” Fant says, handing out relationship advice as if he were a sage of the dating world. “No matter what he’s saying — it could be something crazy — but everybody’s looking like, ‘Oh, it’s Tegray!’” Fant said. “Everybody’s going to listen to him.” That’s because he believes.
Perhaps no IU student appreciates campus Wi-Fi like Fant.
He’s always using it — often with football in mind. Wherever he goes, Fant carries his iPad in his backpack. That way, he can watch film whenever time allows. Sometimes, that’s during class. If he feels he understands course material well enough, Fant will pull out his iPad and watch film in the classroom. On other occasions, such as between classes, Fant will find a place on campus to post up and study football. The only time he doesn’t make a point to watch film? That’s the night before a game, when Fant will retire to his hotel room and settle for a movie instead. As offenses have become more explosive and dynamic, the cornerback position has become one of the most difficult positions to play in all of football. To become one of the best cover cornerbacks in the country, Fant has spent the past three years trying to think like one. To be on an island, like Fant often is in IU’s defensive backfield, you must have confidence. The film study helps immensely. CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES “A lot of times, I watch the offense,” Fant said. “I like to break it down between Indiana coach Tom Allen checks on linebacker Tegray Scales during the Hoosiers’ game against passes and what they like to do on third Northwestern at Ryan Field on Oct. 22, 2016, in Evanston Ill. down, the key downs and in the red zone when they’re backed up. Sometimes I look at receivers and where they line up on certain plays. If I know they just played a really good corner, then I want to see what that corner may have done to see if I can use it for that week.” For Fant, the film study is an effort to Get your IU Athletics anticipate rather than react when he takes the field on game days. MasterCard® Debit Card “Preparation promotes confidence,” exclusively at cornerbacks coach Brandon Shelby said. IU Credit Union! “You can go in on Saturdays knowing what things people like to do. When you can do that, it allows you to get into position to make plays.” That’s exactly what Fant has done, especially during the past two seasons. Even as IU’s secondary seemed to bottom out in 2015, Fant was one of the bright Learn more at spots. Last season, he helped take IU’s defensive backfield with him. The only knock on Fant has been the lack of interceptions. He didn’t pick off his first career pass until the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl. Last year, he recorded three interceptions, but knows he could’ve had more. We started a credit union “Sometimes it’s focus, making sure you and created a community. squeeze the ball,” Fant said. “I remember Michigan State last year, I dove out and — I Federally insured by NCUA 812-855-7823 • iucu.org even got a picture — I had the tip of the
Show off your Hoosier Pride!
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IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THE HERALD-TIMES | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | F5
Defensive expectations high with Fant, Scales on the job CONTINUED FROM PAGE F4
ball, but I should’ve pulled it in faster. It hit the ground and came out. Last year vs. Nebraska, I was just looking ahead before I caught the ball. It hit me right in the chest. I gotta have those.” Perhaps this is year Fant believes he will.
The defense believes
Experience feeds belief in 2017. After a transformative 2016 season, the Hoosiers’ defense returns nearly every key piece from last fall. All that’s missing is defensive tackle Ralph Green III. Even so, Indiana has 97 percent of last season’s production coming back this year, according to SB Nation. That’s the most of any team in the country. Scales and Fant paced IU’s defense last season, with both players cementing their status as two of college football’s most reliable players. Scales led the country with 23.5 tackles
for loss and 93 solo tackles, becoming IU’s first All-American linebacker since Van Waiters in 1987. Fant became the NCAA’s active career leader and Indiana’s all-time leader with 48 passes defended and 44 breakups in 38 games. As a junior, Fant led the Big Ten and tied for second nationally in breakups (17), while also pacing the conference with 20 passes defended. “Fant and Tegray, they are the guys everyone on that defense looks to and trusts them to do their job, which they have done for more than one year at this program,” Lagow said. “They’ve been playing for a couple years, so they’re just an experienced pair and great leaders to have on the team, and the defense specifically.” They’re believers. Others within the IU defense are now, too. But it started with Scales and Fant. If Indiana is to follow through on its plans for a breakthrough season, both senior standouts will have to match their production from a year ago. They’re ready and willing. “(They’re) two young men that have bought in from day one to try and change the culture of our program on that side of the football,” Allen said.
“Go Go Hoosiers Hoosiers”
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CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES
Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales (8) and cornerback Rashard Fant lead a defense looking to go from top 50 in the nation last year into the top 25 this season.
F6 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
Breakthrough or breakdown for IU?
Tom Allen takes over as head coach for the Hoosiers this season after spending last year as the defensive coordinator. CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES
and of their inability to make mistakes in crucial situations that will determine the outcome. What makes the task more Jeremy challenging, Price perhaps moreso H-T SPORTS WRITER for those outside looking in than those inside looking out, is the backdrop of history. The past is an unforgiving obstacle in its own right that seemingly dogs every step taken toward success on the Memorial Stadium turf. That history tells us that IU hasn’t had a winning season since 2007, an anomaly that occurred just once in the past 23 years. Furthermore, Indiana hasn’t won more than eight games in a season since going 9-2 on the way to the Rose Bowl in 1967. In that context, we now know why an advance in knowledge or technique is necessary, even if that advance is only to seven wins instead of six. Perhaps the greatest misconception, however, is what the Hoosiers need to do to achieve that breakthrough. It’s easy to get sucked into what Allen himself calls the biggest home opener in IU football history (there’s that word again), what with the return of Kevin Wilson, the Buckeyes’ top-five rank-
ing, the arrival of ESPN GameDay and so on. But whether Indiana beats Ohio State or not, that will not be what dictates a breakthrough. A win would certainly be monumental, but should the Hoosiers pull the shocker only to turn around and lose at Virginia the following week, nothing will truly be gained. Even worse, should the Hoosiers lose to the Buckeyes only to turn around and lose at Virginia the following week, it would be more of a breakdown. As a matter of fact, I would argue that the game in Charlottesville might be the most pivotal of the season. Indiana returns home after that and should dispatch Florida International and Georgia Southern. A trip to Penn State and a home date with Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines ensue — two more opportunities to flip the ledger in a positive direction. That brings us to the halfway mark of the season, where with a win at Virginia, Indiana sits 3-3 at worst, possibly better with an upset or two or three. The second half of the season starts with another formidable challenge at Michigan State, then another must-win at Maryland. Wisconsin comes to town next, and history suggests we should just hit fast-forward on that scary movie. Indiana finishes at Illinois, home to Rutgers and at Purdue — this is where the breakthrough comes. If the Hoosiers take care of business as they should, something we all know cannot be taken for granted — then that sevenwin bottom line will indeed be reached. If not, history will repeat itself and IU football will remain the definition of insanity instead of breakthrough. Sports writer Jeremy Price can be reached at 812-331-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JPPrice.
CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES
Indiana defensive lineman Ralph Green III (93) celebrates with the Old Oaken Bucket after the Hoosiers beat Purdue, 26-24, on Nov. 26, 2016, to clinch a bowl berth. It was also the fourthstraight win in the series for the Hoosiers, the first time they had done that since the 1940s.
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In case you’ve been under a rock or vacationing on a tropical island, the operative word surrounding Indiana University football in 2017 is “breakthrough.” You can’t miss the tag on social media, and it’s entirely possible that first-year head coach Tom Allen has a quota of times he must say “breakthrough” daily. But in all the hype and hoopla that surrounds the impending season, maybe defining just what breakthrough actually means would be helpful. To that end, Merriam-Webster offers that it is “an act or instance of moving through or beyond an obstacle” or “a sudden advance especially in knowledge or technique.” The primary obstacle for the Hoosiers is, quite frankly, themselves. It is a matter of execution, of their ability to make plays
IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THE HERALD-TIMES | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | F7
INDIANA FOOTBALL POSITION OUTLOOKS QUARTERBACKS
f Indiana is to take another meaningful step forward this fall, its quarterback play will have to be better. No player on IU’s roster needs a turnaround season quite like Richard Lagow, who struggled with consistency and turnovers during his first season in the Big Ten. The junior college transfer has the arm to make all the throws in the Hoosier playbook. This year, IU coaches are positioning him to follow through. New coordinator Mike DeBord is tailoring his pass offense LIKELY STARTER: 21 to the kinds of calls Lagow is most comfortable running. That Richard Lagow, Sr., 6-6, means asking for and processing Lagow’s input in a way that IU’s 240 (253-438, 3,362, 19 previous staff did not last season. TDs, 17 INTs). The Hoosiers want to run a quarterback-friendly offense, KEY RETURNERS: 3 and making Lagow comfortable as the face of the unit has been Peyton Ramsey, R-Fr., one of the program’s primary objectives during the past eight 6-2, 210. months. By all accounts, Lagow is more confident and comfortKEY LOSS: Zander able entering his second and final year in Bloomington. Diamont. “He’s always worked hard,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “This is NEWCOMERS: 12 Nick it. Your senior year, this is your opportunity. You don’t get two Tronti, Fr., 6-2, 205. of these. He has embraced that. I’ve challenged him. We’ve met. CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES We read books together. He’s really done a great job of embracing the process of becoming a leader.” Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow barks out signals during the Hoosiers’ game against Rutgers Should Lagow falter, Indiana appears to have young and intriguing options behind him. on Nov. 5, 2016, in Piscataway, N.J. Redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey followed a solid spring with an equally strong fall camp. Ramsey, a coach’s son from Cincinnati, brings instincts and decent mobility to the position. If he can consistently throw an accurate deep ball, Ramsey could very well develop into Indiana’s quarterback of the future. With Zander Diamont graduated, Indiana replaced his skill set by bringing in freshman Nick Tronti. Unlike Diamont, Tronti already has a strong frame to work with as rookie. Tronti won Florida’s Mr. Football Award for the entire state as a high school senior, and could bring dynamic plays to the position during the years to come. “Those guys are competing,” IU quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan said of his backups. “I think they’re taking advantage of their reps and they’re excited about that opportunity. I know they enjoy playing and, certainly, we know that in the sport of football, you better be ready. You never know when your number is going to be called. We prepare like you’re the starter, whether you are or you aren’t.” Richard Lagow averaged 258.6 yards passing per game last season, which was second in the Big Ten. CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES
F8 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
he crowning achievement of the Kevin Wilson era was the development of Indiana’s offensive line. During six years under the guidance of Wilson and position coach Greg Frey, the Hoosiers produced a pair of first team All-Americans (Jason Spriggs and Dan Feeney) and generally held their own against the Big Ten’s best defensive lines. At a place like Indiana, building a foundation that holds up against Ohio State, Michigan and others is one of the central challenges. With Wilson and Frey at the helm, the Hoosiers succeeded in that regard. Now, it’s up to new position coach Darren Hiller to keep Indiana tough in the trenches. Hiller arrived in Bloomington this past winter with some familiarity of IU’s current personnel. During previous coaching jobs at Cincinnati and South Florida, Hiller made recruiting overtures to current Hoosiers Brandon Knight, Simon Stepaniak, CRONK Hunter Littlejohn, Delroy Baker, Mackenzie Nworah, Grayson Stover and Tyler Knight. Now their coach, Hiller wants to get Hoosier linemen back to being one of the league’s better units. Last season wasn’t what this group wanted it to be. Feeney and right tackle Dimitric Camiel each missed large chunks of the season due to injury, as did Brandon Knight, who will be unavailable for at least MARTIN the first few weeks of the regular season. Wes Rogers’ play at center was also not consistently good enough. With Feeney now with the Los Angeles Chargers, the leadership baton has been passed to Martin and Cronk, the anchors of IU’s left side of the line. Cronk earned Freshman All-American honors last fall and Martin is the strongest man inside Indiana’s weight room. Harry Crider, a freshman, turned in an impressive fall camp and may also push for playing time at center. LIKELY STARTERS: LT 54 Coy Cronk, So., 6-5, 305; LG 76 Wes Martin, R-Jr., 6-3, 310; C 68 Hunter Littlejohn, R-So., 6-3, 305; RG 72 Simon Stepaniak, R-So., 6-4, 305; RT 71 Delroy Baker, R-Jr., 6-6, 305. KEY RETURNERS: OT 62 Brandon Knight, Jr., 6-5, 305; OT 52 DaVondre Love, R-So., 6-7, 310; OT 56 Grayson Stover, R-Fr., 6-6, 305; G 51 Mackenzie Nworah, R-Fr., 6-4, 305. KEY LOSSES: RG/RT Dan Feeney (Associated Press first team All-American); RG Jacob Bailey; C Wes Rogers. NEWCOMERS: C 57 Harry Crider, Fr., 6-4, 290; G 64 Ryan Smith, Fr., 6-5, 290; T 73 Tyler Knight, Fr., 6-4, 290; 77 OT Caleb Jones, Fr., 6-8, 370.
Position outlooks by H-T sports writer Mike Miller
CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES
Junior Mike Majette is expected to start at running back this season for the Hoosiers. Majette rushed for 180 yards last year.
ndiana emerged from fall camp without a clear frontrunner in the backfield. So after three straight seasons with at least one 1,000-yard rusher, the Hoosiers appear set to open the season with a running backby-committee approach. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given the depth and versatility present in IU’s stable of backs. Entering the regular season, Indiana has at least a handful of players it expects to lean on at the position. Of that group, Mike Majette has the most wellrounded skill set. Playing behind Redding and Jordan Howard his first two seasons, Majette offered enough diversity to carve a niche role for the Hoosiers. He has decent speed and adequate hands to become a factor in the passing game, too. Through the first 20
LIKELY STARTER: 24 Mike Majette, Jr., 5-11, 210 (180 yards, 4.6 ypc, 0 TDs). KEY RETURNERS: 31 Tyler Natee, So., 6-0, 260 (237 yards, 3.9 ypc, 2 TDs); 2 Devonte Williams, R-So., 5-10, 190 (167 yards, 3.5 ypc, 0 TDs); 20 Cole Gest, R-Fr., 5-8, 195 (47 yards, 4.7 ypc, 0 TDs); 33 Ricky Brookins, R-Jr., 5-8, 190 (82 yards, 4.1 ypc 0 TDs). KEY LOSS: Devine Redding (1,122 yards, 4.4 ypc, 7 TDs). NEWCOMERS: 27 Morgan Ellison, Fr., 6-1, 225; 29 Craig Nelson, Fr., 5-10, 175. games of his career, Majette has averaged 4.8 yards per carry. He likely would’ve added further production late last season if not for an ankle injury. “He’s an all-around guy, he definitely is,” running backs coach Mike Hart said. “He brings a lot to the table and he does a great job. They all have different skill sets. They’re all stronger in certain areas than other ones. It’s going to be fun.” Tyler Natee, affectionately known as “Big Bacon,” endeared himself to his
new school last fall while working in tandem with Wildcat quarterback Zander Diamont. Whether IU’s new offensive staff continues with
that gimmick package, or something similar, remains to be seen. Regardless, Natee represents a battering ram in the backfield and could have a niche role in short-yardage situations. Keep an eye on Devonte Williams, a scat back capable of adding a different dimension to IU’s offense. Cole Gest gives the Hoosiers a burst of speed, and if he can appropriately harness that quickness and wait for holes to open, he could develop into a significant factor for IU.
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hen Ted Bolser graduated after the 2013 season, the consistent receiving production of IU tight ends left with him. During the past three seasons, only former Hoosier Michael Cooper gave IU a reliable aerial target at tight end. That’s about to change. New offensive coordinator Mike DeBord wants IU’s tight end group to be one of the strengths of this year’s offense. With a handful of tight ends poised to push for time at the position, DeBord likes the potential. It starts with Ian Thomas, a JUCO transfer who appeared in all 13 games last season but made only three receptions for 28 yards. The Hoosiers want to make Thomas more of a factor in their passing offense, and Thomas appears ready to accept that challenge. Thomas, who now weighs 250 pounds, has added 30 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame since arriving in Bloomington last summer. During the offseason, Thomas continued to build a strong rapport with IU quarterback Richard Lagow, and he’s ready to make the most of the playing time that’s before him.
LIKELY STARTER: 80 Ian Thomas, Sr., 6-5, 248 (3 catches, 28 yards, 0 TDs). KEY RETURNERS: 83 Austin Dorris, R-So., 6-5, 255; 85 Ryan Watercutter, R-Jr., 6-2, 228; 88 Shaun Bonner, R-Fr., 6-3, 250. KEY LOSS: Jordan Fuchs. NEWCOMERS: 86 Peyton Hendershot, Fr., 6-4, 240. “It starts with his athletic ability, his quickness, his speed,” DeBord said. “He’s got great deceiving speed. Then his size, too. And he’s a smart football player. I think, too, he didn’t get to do a lot last year. I think he’s also a hungry football player, which also adds to it.” Behind Thomas, IU is building depth. Younger options, such as Austin Dorris and Shaun Bonner, haven’t produced in tangible fashion, though they could be ready to help this fall. Ryan Watercutter, a former walk-on linebacker, is coming off a strong summer and fall camp and might also help behind Thomas. Peyton Hendershot is a good-looking athlete out of Tri-West, who could add further pass-catching potential to the tight end unit.
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Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr. (1) makes a catch in front of Michigan’s Channing Stribling during a Nov. 14, 2015, game at Memorial Stadium. Cobbs was injured on his first offensive play last year and missed the rest of the season. Cobbs had a team-high 60 catches for 1,035 yards in 2015.
immie Cobbs and Nick Westbrook have NFL upside. Tapping into that potential this season could make Indiana’s receiving corps one of the top units in the Big Ten. Cobbs will be looking to author a comeback year after suffering a season-ending injury on his first play from scrimmage in 2016. When Cobbs went down, Westbrook stepped up, finishing five yards shy of giving IU its third 1,000yard receiver in four years. Both players return this fall to give IU size, quickness and playmaking abilities on the perimeter. “Simmie and Nick are both very big guys,” IU quarterback Richard Lagow said. “Donavan Hale, on the outside, is a very big target. Taysir Mack, too. In the slot, you have Luke Timian. ... It’s very exciting for the offense. I’m extremely excited to have those guys to throw the ball to.” Timian, a former walk-on who began his career at Oklahoma State, has worked his
LIKELY STARTERS: 1 Simmie Cobbs, R-Jr., 6-4, 220 (2015 stats: 60 catches, 1,035 yards, 4 TDs); 10 Donavan Hale, Jr., 6-4, 225 (13, 210, 1) 25 Luke Timian, R-Jr., 6-0, 195 (19, 277, 1). KEY RETURNERS: 15 Nick Westbrook, Jr., 6-3, 215 (54, 995, 6); 5 J-Shun Harris, R-Jr., 5-8, 170 (missed past two seasons with injuries); 13 Isaac James, R-So., 5-11, 195; 7 Taysir Mack, R-Fr., 6-2, 200; 19 Jonah Morris, R-Fr., 6-4, 200. KEY LOSSES: Mitchell Paige (58, 646, 4); Ricky Jones (53, 848, 3). way onto IU’s two-deep with a couple solid years of work, including consistent production during this month’s fall camp. He tops IU’s depth chart in the slot, where the Hoosiers have plenty of options behind him. That includes Harris, who has missed each of the past two seasons with ACL tears in both knees. Harris is back and looks ready to contribute for the first time since 2014, when he earned All-Big Ten Freshman honors from 247 Sports and BTN.com. In a receiving corps that features headliners such as Cobbs and Westbrook, Hale is the dark horse candidate to produce at a high level. Similar
to IU’s first-teamers, Hale has the kind of size Indiana covets on the outside. Consistency is the hurdle Hale still must clear. In the same vein, keep an eye on Taysir Mack, IU’s 2016 scout team player of the year. Dating back to spring practice, Mack has consistently earned high praise as a tough and physical target on the outside. “I think that getting Simmie back with a guy like Westbrook — tested guys that have produced — (helps bolster the unit),” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “Get Luke healthy and all those new guys and get Donavan being who I think he can be (helps, too). We just have to keep pushing them.”
F10 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
efensive line play was one of the central preseason questions for Indiana’s defense in 2016. As it turned out, Hoosier D-linemen offered mostly solid results and helped IU’s defense as a whole record 71 tackles for loss across the final seven games of last season. The challenge for position coach Mark Hagen’s group this season is clear: be even more aggressive and help relieve pressure from the defense’s back seven. “The things we talk about are the attack mentality, being able to knock offensive linemen back and playing physical,” Hagen said. “I thought we did those a year ago.” With Greg Gooch and Brandon Wilson on the ends and Nate Hoff and Jacob Robinson in the middle, the line’s top-flight unit appears set. But the Hoosiers won’t rely on those four alone. Hagen rotated several linemen into action throughout the year, and by the end of last season, IU’s backups logged nearly as many snaps as the starters. The Hoosiers found their D-line depth tested this summer when backup edge rusher Nile Sykes suffered a season-ending injury during workouts. Sykes would have given IU a capable pass rusher after logging five sacks — the second-most on the team — and seven tackles for loss. In his place, Indiana needs more from Allen Stallings. IU is also crossing its fingers that Robert McCray can remain healthy for the full season. Injuries have cost McCray plenty of practice time during his first three seasons, but if he can stay on the field, McCray may be among IU’s top options for generating pressure. The Hoosiers would also appreciate seeing Gooch take a step forward as a pass rusher. He’s already strong against the run, but Hagen sees the potential for Gooch to become a more complete player if he can more consistently harass quarterbacks. Indiana appears deep at tackle, beginning with Hoff and Robinson. Neither player is a star, but have both developed into consistent starters. Robinson played both end and tackle last season, primarily as a response to McCray missing the first four games of last season with a shoulder injury. Ideally, Hagen wants to keep Robinson inside all fall.
LIKELY STARTERS: DE 49 Greg Gooch, Sr., 6-2, 250 (26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack); DT 74 Nate Hoff, Sr., 6-2, 310 (38 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks); DT 91 Jacob Robinson, Jr., 6-4, 285 (17 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack); DE 95 Brandon Wilson, R-So., 6-3, 255 (2 tackles). KEY RETURNERS: DT 51 Mike Barwick, R-Jr., 6-0, 295 (22 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks); DT 54 Ja’merez Bowen, R-Jr., 6-4, 310 (2 tackles); DT 98 Jerome Johnson, R-Fr., 6-3, 295; ; DE 47 Robert McCray, Sr., 6-2, 270 DE 99 Allen Stallings, So., 6-2, 240. KEY LOSSES: DT Ralph Green III (31 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1.0 sack); DT Patrick Dougherty (23 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks). NEWCOMERS: DT 90 Juan Harris, Fr., 6-3, 360; DE 87 Michael Ziemba, Fr., 6-3, 245; DE 92 Alfred “Lance” Bryant, Fr., 6-2, 250; DT 93 LeShaun Minor, Fr., 6-3, 300; DE 94 Britt Beery, Fr., 6-6, 270; DE 97 Tramar Reece, Fr., 6-4, 230. CHRIS HOWELL | HERALD-TIMES
Two players behind them on the depth chart, Juan Harris and Jerome Johnson, give IU a formidable second unit — at least in terms of size. Harris, a former four-star recruit, and Johnson weigh a combined 655 pounds.
Indiana defensive lineman Nate Hoff (74) makes the tackle on Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett during an Oct. 8, 2016, game in Columbus, Ohio. Hoff had 38 tackes and 2‰ sacks last season.
IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THE HERALD-TIMES | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | F11
ndiana can’t afford a repeat of last season. The missed field goals, the poor protection and botched holds, the pedestrian punting and the so-so return game. Tom Allen is determined LIKELY STARTERS: K 92 to fix it all. Allen, a former Griffin Oakes, Sr., 5-10, special teams coordinator 198 (16-for-26 FG, long at Ole Miss, increased the 49, 33-for-35 PAT); P attention placed on special 94 Haydon Whitehead, teams this offseason. R-So., 6-2, 205; LS 97 “Special teams (is) an Dan Godsil, Jr., 6-4, 230; area we have to improve, H 36 Drew Conrad, R-Fr., and I’ve recognized that and 6-2, 195; KR 2 Devonte acknowledged that from the Williams, R-So., 5-10, beginning,” Allen said. 190 (39 returns, 784 Griffin Oakes struggled yards); PR 5 J-Shun Harlast season after being ris, R-Jr., 5-8, 170. the Big Ten’s kicker of the KEY RETURNERS: K 82 year in 2015. The senior Logan Justus, R-So., connected on only 16 of 26 5-11, 180; P 36 Drew attempts, but it was not his Conrad, R-Fr., 6-2, 195. fault alone. Poor protection and bad holds contributed to an erosion of confidence. Allen has said that protection and holds have been a focus, and after shuffling through two holders last year, the Hoosiers are hopeful punter Drew Conrad can do the job. Conrad will also back up new scholarship punter Haydon Whitehead, a former Australian Rules Football player. Whitehead joined the program in time for spring practice. Last season, IU ranked No. 110 nationally with a punting average of 38.6 yards.
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Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales returns to anchor the defense after leading the Hoosiers with 126 tackles, 23‰ tackles for loss and seven sacks.
ndiana’s defense wants to be great this fall. During a coaching career spanning more than two decades, Tom Allen has always believed that great defenses start with great linebackers. That’s the objective for this year’s Hoosier linebacking corps. “I think we’re a very good group that’s developing and showing the consistency that we have to have to run and own this defense,” linebackers coach William Inge said. Last season, IU linebackers set the tone for the defense’s remarkable turnaround season. In Tegray Scales, Indiana has a true star. Largely unheralded outside of Bloomington prior to last season, Scales authored one of the greatest seasons ever by an IU defender. He led the country with 23.5 tackles for loss and 93 solo tackles on the way to becoming Indiana’s first linebacker to earn All-America honors (second team, SI.com) since Van Waiters in 1987. This season, Indiana is left to replace Mike linebacker Marcus Oliver, who decided to forego his final season of eligibility to begin his professional career. Replacing Oliver’s takeaway production won’t come easy, though the Hoosiers will attempt to plug that hole with Chris Covington. A former quarterback, Covington has worked as a reserve linebacker for each of the past two seasons. He’s one of the
LIKELY STARTERS: OLB 8 Tegray Scales, Sr., 6-0, 230 (126 tackles, 93 solo, 23.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks); MLB 4 Chris Covington, Sr., 6-2, 230 (29 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks). KEY RETURNERS: MLB 43 Dameon Willis, R-Jr., 6-1, 230 (22 tackles, 1 TFL); OLB 40 Reakwon Jones, R-So., 6-2, 230 (2 tackles); OLB 26 Kiante Walton, R-Jr., 6-2, 225 (2 tackles). KEY LOSS: MLB Marcus Oliver (96 tackles, 65 solo, 15.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks). NEWCOMERS: 44 Thomas Allen, Fr., 6-3, 230; 41 Mo Burnam, Fr., 6-2, 235; 55 Mike McGinnis, Jr., 6-2, 230. best athletes on the team, with an impressive vertical jump of 35 inches. The top vertical at this past year’s NFL Scouting Combine was 37.5 inches. With Oliver unable to play in December’s Foster Farms Bowl loss to Utah, Indiana turned to Dameon Willis, who posted four tackles in each of the final two games of last season. Behind him, Mike McGinnis, a former junior college All-American, is showing a knack for creating the kinds of takeaways that Oliver was responsible for during previous seasons. Behind Scales, Reakwon Jones and Kiante Walton, a converted safety, are challenging for the second Stinger spot.
F12 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
DARRON CUMMINGS | ASSOCIATED PRESS
Indiana’s Jonathan Crawford (9) celebrates with Rashard Fant after Crawford intercepted a pass in the second half against Purdue on Nov. 26, 2016, in Bloomington.
ndiana’s secondary is beginning to turn the corner. The 2016 season was an encouraging preview of what this fall can be for a group that, for years, struggled to adequately defend the pass. Playing in the defensive backfield, especially at corner, is one of the toughest assignments in the modern game. But for the first time in recent memory, IU not only has the talent necessary to compete, but the depth, too. Despite Indiana’s poor defensive track record, Rashard Fant has been one of the best cover corners in the Big Ten during the past two seasons. He enters his final year as the NCAA’s active career leader and IU’s all-time leader with 48 passes defended and 44 breakups in 38 games. Although Fant is the face of IU’s secondary, the emergence of several others has made this group worth watching. At safety, Jonathan Crawford is developing into a consistent All-Big Ten caliber performer. He’s started all 26 career games and is IU’s active leader with seven interceptions, four fumble recoveries and 11 total takeaways. Next to Crawford, Tony Fields has also surfaced as a reliable free safety. He finished fifth on the team last season with 70 tackles, while his 53 solo stops were fourth-most on IU’s roster. Fields appears set to start again in 2017, but he’s had to earn the right to keep the job. Chase Dutra, a veteran defensive back, pushed him for playing time during camp and will share snaps with him during the season.
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LIKELY STARTERS: CB 16 Rashard Fant, Sr., 5-10, 180 (33 tackles, 17 breakups, 3 INTs); CB 28 A’Shon Riggins, So., 6-0, 183 (37 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 9 breakups); Husky 42 Marcelino Ball, So., 6-0, 210 (75 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 8 breakups); S 9 Jonathan Crawford, Jr., 6-2, 203 (71 tackles, 3 INTs, 7 breakups, 4 FR); S 19 Tony Fields, Sr., 5-11, 205 (70 tackles, 2 INTs, 7 breakups). KEY RETURNERS: S 30 Chase Dutra, Sr., 6-1, 212 (46 tackles); CB 14 Andre Brown, R-So., 6-0, 195 (injured last season); CB 3 Tyler Green, Jr., 6-3, 190 (10 tackles, 2 breakups); Husky 12 Jayme Thompson, Sr., 6-2, 195; DB 18 Ben Bach, Sr., 6-1, 195. NEWCOMERS: S Juwan Burgess, Fr., 6-1, 185; CB 17 Raheem Layne, Fr., 6-1, 190; CB 21 LaDamion Hunt, Fr., 6-0, 185. Perhaps the most encouraging development in IU’s secondary last fall was the play of A’Shon Riggins, who earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors from BTN.com. Riggins started eight times during his rookie season, teaming with Fant on the corner to bolster IU’s pass defense. Riggins, however, was unable to play in the Foster Farms Bowl due to a concussion, forcing Fant and Tyler Green to play every snap without a break. But Green played well and gives Indiana outstanding size and length as a backup this fall.
IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THE HERALD-TIMES | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | F13
2017 INDIANA OPPONENTS THURSDAY, AUG. 31, 8 P.M.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 30, TBA
SATURDAY, NOV. 4, TBA
Ohio State Buckeyes
at Penn State Nittany Lions
SATURDAY, SEPT. 9, 3:30 P.M.
SATURDAY, OCT. 14, NOON
SATURDAY, NOV. 11, TBA
at Virginia Cavaliers
at Illinois Fighting Illini
SATURDAY, SEPT. 16, 3:30 P.M.
SATURDAY, OCT. 21, 3:30 or 4 P.M.
SATURDAY, NOV. 18, TBA
Florida International Panthers
at Michigan State Spartans
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
SATURDAY, SEPT. 23, TBA
SATURDAY, OCT. 28 , 3:30 or 4 P.M.
SATURDAY, NOV. 25, TBA
Georgia Southern Eagles
at Maryland Terrapins
at Purdue Boilermakers
COACH: Urban Meyer (61-6 in 6th season at Ohio State; 165-29 in 16th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 12-2, 8-1 Big Ten (t1st, East). SERIES HISTORY: Ohio State leads, 73-12-5. LAST MEETING: Ohio State, 38-17, on Oct. 8, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. OUTLOOK: Buckeyes return 15 starters (8 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams) from team that lost to Oregon in the CFP semifinals. Ohio State is averaging 39.6 points per game in its last three trips to Memorial Stadium. QB J.T. Barrett threw for 2,555 yards and 24 touchdowns last season.
COACH: Bronco Mendenhall (2-10 in 2nd season at Virginia; 101-43 in 13th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 2-10 SERIES HISTORY: Virginia leads, 2-0. LAST MEETING: Virginia, 34-31, on Sept. 10, 2011, in Bloomington. OUTLOOK: Virginia returns the ACC’s top two tacklers in 2016 with Micah Kiser (134) and Quin Blanding (120). It is the second year in a row Kiser and Blanding finished 1-2 in the league in tackles. Indiana is one of nine of Virginia’s opponents this season that played in a bowl game last year.
COACH: Butch Davis (First season at Florida International; 79-43 in 11th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 4-8 SERIES HISTORY: Indiana leads, 2-0. LAST MEETING: Indiana, 34-13, on Sept. 1, 2016, in Miami. OUTLOOK: Butch Davis returns to the sidelines after six seasons. The 65-year-old Davis coached the Miami Hurricanes from 1995-2000, the Cleveland Browns from 2001-2004 and the University of North Carolina from 2007-2010. QB Alex McGough (1,891 yards, 13 TDs, 11 INTs) and RB Alex Gardner (930 yards, 6 TDs) return to lead the Panthers’ offense.
COACH: Tyson Sommers (5-7 in 2nd season at Georgia Southern). 2016 RECORD: 5-7 SERIES HISTORY: First meeting. OUTLOOK: Heading into the season, four the Eagles last seven games against Power 5 schools were decided by six points or less. Georgia Southern is one of the youngest teams in the nation with just eight seniors on the roster. Junior running back Wesley Fields rushed for 682 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman, when he was named the offensive MVP at the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
COACH: James Franklin (25-15 in 4th season at Penn State; 49-30 in 7th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 11-3, 7-1 Big Ten (t1st, East) SERIES HISTORY: Penn State leads, 19-1. LAST MEETING: Penn State, 45-31, on Nov. 12, 2016, in Bloomington. OUTLOOK: The defending Big Ten champions enter the season No. 6 led by an offense featuring preseason league player of the year Saquon Barkley. The junior running back rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He had 306 all-purpose yards in the Rose Bowl against USC.
COACH: Jim Harbaugh (20-6 in 3rd season at Michigan; 78-33 in 10th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 10-3, 7-2 Big Ten (3rd, East) SERIES HISTORY: Michigan leads, 56-9. LAST MEETING: Michigan, 20-10, on Nov. 19, 2016, in Ann Arbor, Mich. OUTLOOK: The Wolverines open the season against Florida in Arlington, Texas, on Sept 2. QB Wilson Speight leads the offense after completing 204 of 331 passes for 2,538 yards and 18 TDs last season. Michigan allowed a league-low 14.1 points per game last season.
COACH: Mark Dantonio (90-42 in 11th season at Michigan State; 108-59 in 14th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 3-9, 1-8 (6th, East) SERIES HISTORY: Michigan State leads, 45-16-2. LAST MEETING: Indiana, 24-21, in overtime on Oct. 1, 2016, in Bloomington. OUTLOOK: LJ Scott led the Spartans in rushing last season with 994 yards and six TDs. He’s just one of eight offensive and defensive starters returning from a team that failed to reach a bowl for the first time in nine seasons.
COACH: DJ Durkin (6-7 in 2nd season at Maryland). 2016 RECORD: 6-7, 3-6 Big Ten (5th, East) SERIES HISTORY: Indiana leads, 4-1. LAST MEETING: Indiana, 42-36, on Oct. 29, 2016, in Bloomington. OUTLOOK: Running back Ty Johnson rushed for 1,004 yards and six TDs last season, when he had 10 plays of at least 40 yards. The Terps finished second in the Big Ten in sacks last season, led by Jesse Aniebonam’s team-leading nine sackes. He also had a team-best 14 tackles for loss.
COACH: Paul Chryst (21-6 in 3rd season at Wisconsin; 40-25 in 6th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 11-3, 7-2 Big Ten (1st, West) SERIES HISTORY: Wisconsin leads, 40-18-2. LAST MEETING: Wisconsin, 51-3, Nov. 16, 2013, in Madison, Wis. OUTLOOK: Wisconsin returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that won the Big Ten West and a third straight bowl game. Preseason All-American TE Troy Fumagalli leads the offense, but the defense will have to replace T.J. Watt, who had a Big Ten-best 11‰ sacks in 2016.
COACH: Lovie Smith (3-9 in 2nd season at Illinois). 2016 RECORD: 3-9, 2-7 Big Ten (6th, West) SERIES HISTORY: Illinois leads, 45-24-2. LAST MEETING: Indiana, 52-35, on Nov. 9, 2013, in Bloomington. OUTLOOK: The Illini were 13th in the league in scoring (19.7) and 12th in scoring defense (31.9) last season. Illinois has just nine seniors on its roster this season, including WR Malik Turner (48 catches, 712 yards, 6 TDs) and RB Kendrick Foster (748 yards, 9 total TDs).
201 COACH: Chris Ash (2-10 in 2nd season at Rutgers). 6 RECORD: 2-10, 0-9 Big Ten (7th, East) SERIES HISTORY: Rutgers leads, 2-1. LAST MEETING: Indiana, 33-27, on Nov. 5, 2016, in Piscataway, N.J. OUTLOOK: Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill takes over as offensive coordinator and will have fifth-year senior and Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin behind center. Return man Janarion Grant returns after missing the final eight games last season. He’s tied for the NCAA record with 8 kick returns for TDs.
COACH: Jeff Brohm (1st season at Purdue; 30-10 in 5th season overall). 2016 RECORD: 3-9, 1-8 Big Ten (7th, East) SERIES HISTORY: Purdue leads, 72-41-6. LAST MEETING: Indiana, 26-24, on Nov. 26, 2016, in Bloomington. OUTLOOK: The Boilermakers will look to avoid a fifth-straight loss to Indiana in the Old Oaken Bucket series, something that has never happened. QB David Blough returns to lead the offense after completing 295 of 517 passes for 3,352 yards and 25 touchdowns. But he did throw 21 picks.
F14 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW
New coaches bring the love to Big Ten By Michael Marot Associated Press
Tom Allen and Jeff Brohm remember watching the Big Ten at its rugged best. P.J. Fleck just heard the stories about the emotional sideline antics of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler being as entertaining as the games. Back then, three yards and a cloud of dust was all the rage and massive offensive linemen overpowered defenders while big running backs crashed through holes. Today, the names, faces and even the tactics have changed but the tough-guy coaches remain one of the conference’s most endearing characteristics. At Michigan and Ohio State, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer can often be seen on the sideline with pained, perplexed facial expressions. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has embraced his role as a disciplinarian. And after going 3-9 in 2016, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio wasted no time blaming the poor season on a lack of discipline inside the locker room. So in a conference that has never been big on congeniality, the three new coaches — Allen at Indiana, Brohm at Purdue and Fleck at Minnesota — are starting on their quest to polish the Big Ten’s longtime image. “You can’t change or overreact,” Allen said, describing his more temperate style and Love Each Oher motto. “The other thing is I think it matters who they are but different individuals in the organization deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, kindness and to feel like a part of the program and that doesn’t always happen.” Especially at these schools. Over the last half century, fans around Indiana and Minnesota have heard and seen it all. Since finishing in a three-way tie atop the league standings in 1967, their chase for football glory has resulted mostly in futility. While coaches and stars, promises and credos have come and gone,
bowl bids have been rare and conference championships virtually non-existent. Purdue shared the 2000 Big Ten title with Michigan and Northwestern. Indiana and Minnesota are still looking to end their droughts. Why should this time be different? Because the new coaches’ refreshing approach could become appealing to high school players who are ready to work for these men The 47-year-old Allen, like Super Bowlwinning coach Tony Dungy, is a defensive whiz who waited decades to land his first big head coaching job. Allen, like Dungy, G-JUN YAM | ASSOCIATED PRESS is a change of pace from his predecessor. And Allen, like Dungy, puts a premium on Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm addresses the media at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago on July 25. faith and family before wins and losses, Brohm is in his first year with the Boilermakers. which explains why both believe they get more impact out of a hug or stare than an Pizza | Pasta | Calzones | Sandwiches | Salads | Italian Dinners expletive-laced tirade. Gluten-Free Menu | Beer & Wine | Dine In | Carryout | Delivery Maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise given that Allen and Dungy attended the same church in Tampa, Florida. But if Fleck or Brohm have proven anything over the past few years, it’s that many styles work in today’s college football world. While Fleck demonstrated his coaching aptitude by taking a Mid-American Conference team, Western Michigan, and put it on the national map, the 36-year-old rising star might be an even better salesman. His media campaign to promote the school and Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well as the football team created a commuCome celebrate nity effort that culminated in a multi-day with us! promotional opportunity on ESPN that included the first trip for the “College GameDay” crew to a MAC campus for the first time in 13 years. Now, after buying the copyright to his Says the 2017 Herald Times Readers’ Choice popular “Row The Boat” mantra, Fleck is ready start over in Minneapolis where he’s already starting to see good results. $ NBC’s “Today” show recently gave Not valid with other offers | Excludes alcohol Expires 12-31-17 | Dine In or Carryout the Golden Gophers air time after Fleck Don’t feel like going out? Call for delivery! awarded a third-string walk-on kicker one of Minnesota’s precious scholarships, the East 3rd St next to Starbucks | 812-331-1234 kind of publicity the Golden Gophers have West 3rd across from Kroger | 812-323-0123 SEE COACHES | PAGE F14 See our menu at Buccetos.com
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IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THE HERALD-TIMES | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | F15
G-JUN YAM | ASSOCIATED PRESS
P.J. Fleck is in his first year as the Minnesoat head coach after four seasons as the head coach at Western Michigan.
COACHES CONTINUED FROM PAGE F14
lacked for years. But make no mistake — Fleck is here to win . “I am not here to change tradition. What I am here to do is change a culture. To change the movement, for us to create and experience things that the University of Minnesota football has only dreamed off and hasn’t accomplished since the late ’60s,” he said. “My entire life has been about running into the fire, not away from the fire. I eat difficult conversations for breakfast, and that is why I took this job.” Brohm walks into the toughest situation. While Minnesota has played in three consecutive bowl games and the Hoosiers have been to back-to-back bowl games, Purdue hasn’t made the postseason since the 2012 season. Here, at the Cradle of Quarterbacks, the depth chart is thin, the schedule is daunting and crowds have been dwindling. Yet Brohm looks like a perfect fit. A former quarterback with an NFL pedigree, like Harbaugh, could be an enticing situation for recruits who dream of being the next Drew Brees. And Brohm’s creative, high-scoring offense could be just the remedy to bring fans back to Ross-Ade Stadium. It worked for Joe Tiller two decades ago.
Now Brohm is hoping the philosophy he learned in one season with the XFL’s Orlando Rage will help Purdue dig itself out of a hole. “I hate to tell people this, but it was the most fun I ever had playing football,” Brohm said. “You had nicknames, you had skits and charades, you played to the cameras in the middle of the field and I think there are some plusses to that. If you’re going to have fun playing the game, fans are going to have fun watching the game. I think the XFL taught me you could have fun and still be productive and that’s what people want to see.” Even in a league that prides itself on fearless play, gritty guys and tough coaches. “To me, it’s way bigger than football,” Allen said. “If your performance defines you on the field, if that’s who you are and that’s where you get your identity and your worth, then I think it’s really hard to stay steady. But when your combination is in your faith and there’s something bigger than you, and you realize your purpose in life is not to win football games but to impact lives, then the ups and downs of our profession don’t cause you to lose focus on life. “I can’t say I’ve got it all figured out. But I do believe that as long as I never forget why I became a coach, whether it was a 2A school down in Florida or some small college nobody’s ever heard of, then I think you’ll be all right.”
F16 | THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017 | THE HERALD-TIMES | IU FOOTBALL PREVIEW