We’re a week into July, so go ahead, you can get impatient. Spring practice is nearly three months in the rear view, and the open of preseason camps nationally arrives in less than a month. Let’s look ahead to August and identify two key areas in which each Big Ten team must make strides over these final weeks of the offseason.
Next up: Indiana
Move past off-the-field issues: It hasn't been a good summer for the Hoosiers. Safety Antonio Allen, the only returning starter in the defensive backfield, was arrested last month on drug-dealing charges and dismissed from the team. Defensive lineman Ralph Green III was arrested in April -- and suspended -- on a battery charge, and wideout Isaac Griffith was arrested in May for driving while intoxicated. IU coach Kevin Wilson is already on the hot seat, and he can't afford his players making anymore headlines. Obviously, it's not just the program brand that has taken a hit either -- Allen's absence will most certainly be felt on the Hoosiers' defense. He was one of the defense's lone bright spots, and his 74-tackle production will have to be replaced by sophomore Tony Fields and/or redshirt sophomore Chase Dutra. Those two need to make the most out of their new opportunity for IU to experience success this season.
Find playmakers on both sides of the ball: Sure, this is a pretty general objective -- but, generally, the Hoosiers need a lot of help. Three of Indiana's top four pass-catchers from 2014 are gone, and quarterback Nate Sudfeld needs somebody to step up. There's some definite depth and potential here, as three wideouts -- J-Shun Harris II, Simmie Cobbs, Dominique Booth -- played as true freshmen last season and will undoubtedly be better. (And let's not forget UAB transfer Marqui Hawkins, true freshman Nicholas Westbrook and juco Camion Patrick either.) On defense, IU needs ... OK, well, it needs help everywhere. But it especially needs to find a playmaking pass-rusher and someone who can force some turnovers and make some plays. Linebacker Tegray Scales could provide some answers, but the nation's No. 100 scoring defense from a year ago needs more than just one player to step up. It needs to find "playmakers" -- plural.