Season recap: Indiana


Record: 1-11 (0-8 Big Ten)

After two seasons of flirting with the postseason, Indiana slipped back into rebuilding mode in 2011. While the team's Big Ten struggles are nothing new to IU fans, the Hoosiers also stumbled in nonconference play and were the only major-conference team in the country not to defeat an FBS opponent this year.

Rough first season for coach Kevin Wilson? You bet. But better days should be ahead.

Indiana's offense struggled early as inconsistent play an injuries prevented Wilson from identifying the team's top quarterback. True freshman Tre Roberson eventually emerged to provide a play-making spark in the backfield, along with running back Stephen Houston, but by then the defense was in free-fall. The unit that has plagued Indiana for more than a decade took another step back, finishing the season 109th or worse nationally in four major statistical categories (total defense, rush defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense). Indiana's defense surrendered an average of 46.5 points during the final seven games.

Wilson and his staff ended up playing 16 true freshmen and 16 redshirt freshmen, more than any team in the country. While it resulted in plenty of growing pains this year, the moves could pay off down the line as so many young players got a taste of game action. Indiana's ongoing recruiting efforts will be critical, and while losing one-time quarterback commit Gunner Kiel stings, the bigger concern for the Hoosiers remains on defense.

Offensive MVP: Roberson. Indiana's offense was going nowhere until Roberson provided a spark in his first career start -- and the first by a Hoosiers freshman quarterback -- against Iowa on Oct. 22. Although he had some ups and downs, he showcased explosive speed and has some potential as a passer. Roberson finished as the team's second-leading rusher (426 yards). Houston also merits a mention after an impressive first season (802 rush yards, 8 TDs).

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Jeff Thomas. Not many choices here but Thomas led the team in both tackles (80) and tackles for loss (10.5) after finishing second in tackles a year ago. He added a sack, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Defensive lineman Adam Replogle merits a mention after leading the team with four sacks and finishing second with seven tackles for loss.

Turning point: After notching its first win against South Carolina State, Indiana went to North Texas with an excellent chance to even its record at 2-2. North Texas entered the game with three blowout losses on its record, but the Mean Green dominated Indiana on both sides of the ball, surging out to a 24-0 lead before the Hoosiers decided to wake up. It signaled bad things ahead for Wilson's squad, which didn't win another game.

What's next: Indiana misses a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season, but this is a critical time for Wilson and his assistants to scour the recruiting trail. The Hoosiers need significant upgrades, particularly on defense, and likely will sign a large recruiting class in February. It's also an important time for the many freshmen who played this season to take steps in their physical development before spring ball begins.