Hope and concern: Indiana Hoosiers

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Biggest reason for hope -- Playmakers on defense

Defense has been Indiana's downfall for most of the last decade, but the Hoosiers return several players with NFL potential for 2009. Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton form what could be the top pass-rushing tandem in the Big Ten. Kirlew tied for second in the league in sacks with 10.5 last year, while Middleton led the nation with 16 sacks in 2007. If both players are clicking at the same time, opposing quarterbacks will be in trouble. Hopes are also high for middle linebacker Matt Mayberry, a blog favorite who boasts top-end speed and led the team with 89 tackles last year. If Indiana gets safety Austin Thomas healthy and converted wide receiver Ray Fisher produces at cornerback, the defense should create some problems.

Biggest reason for concern -- No stars on offense

Kellen Lewis' dismissal leaves Indiana without a proven playmaker on the offensive side. The jury's still out on quarterback Ben Chappell, and with Fisher moving to defense, Indiana needs young wide receivers Damarlo Belcher, Tandon Doss and Mitchell Evans to step up. There are also questions at running back after the loss of Marcus Thigpen, and the offensive line needs to get healthy after a very difficult 2008 season. With so many unknowns, it would have been nice to have Lewis in the fold.