Big Ten media days arrive two weeks on July 28. We’ll get you ready in the coming days by identifying three pressing questions that each league squad will face at media days, along with their possible answers.
1. So, is there any hope for the defense?
This will remain the No. 1 pressing question for the Hoosiers until they actually change the conversation. Indiana allowed a Big Ten-worst 38.8 ppg last year, and since 2008 it has given up more points per season than every other FBS team except for Washington State. Wilson knows this all too well and made a change in the offseason, bringing in Brian Knorr as his new defensive coordinator. Indiana has 10 starters back on defense, and Wilson says he has more depth on that side of the ball than any other time during his tenure. A lot will ride on whether defensive linemen Bobby Richardson, Ralph Green and Darius Latham can finally give the Hoosiers a push up front, especially with the switch to a 3-4 base. Expect a lot of optimistic talk, and Cooper will bear the brunt of the defensive questions as the lone player representative from that unit. But until IU actually proves it on the field, it's still all talk.
2. How good can Sudfeld be?
It's a little hard to believe, given Indiana's offensive prowess in the previous three seasons, but this should be the first time in four years that Wilson has a no-doubt starter at quarterback all season long. Tre Roberson's summer transfer -- something Wilson will obviously be asked to explain -- leaves Sudfeld as the only experienced player there. He's a legitimate NFL prospect who threw for 2,523 yards and 21 touchdowns last season despite splitting snaps with Roberson. Wilson will happily answer questions about Sudfeld in Chicago, knowing that he can avoid having to hear the same week-to-week quarterback inquiries that have dominated his media sessions the past couple of years. Sudfeld gets a great opportunity to shine this year, and he can begin that process at media days.
3. Bowl or bust in 2014?
Indiana has improved its record every year under Wilson, going from 1-11 in 2011 to 4-8 in '12 to 5-7 last year. Yet that's still not good enough in an era where well over half the teams in the FBS go bowling, and it's disappointing the Hoosiers couldn't get over the hump last year despite fielding one of the best offenses in the Big Ten. Wilson appears to have the full support of athletic director Fred Glass, but it's hard for any coach to go four years with no postseason and not face at least some heat. It's even harder for programs to build momentum that way. Life doesn't get any easier for the Hoosiers in the new East Division of the Big Ten, and they play Missouri and MAC stalwart Bowling Green on the road in nonconference play. Can IU's fan base -- already arguably the smallest and least vocal in the league -- stomach another season without a bowl at the end of it?