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Big Ten preview: Indiana

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Despite a 4-8 record last season, many saw Indiana as an improved team headed in the right direction in coach Kevin Wilson's second season.

Wilson isn't quite taking the compliment.

"Not the season we wanted," he said at Big Ten media days in July. "Maybe made some strides on paper. Maybe a little bit better record. But we've got a great school, making a great commitment and we want to build a winning product and start getting the victories that we need."

Speaking about the defense, he was even less effusive.

"Quite honestly, it's been embarrassing about how we played in our first two years," he said. "So our effort, toughness, needs to be better."

The Hoosiers appear to have the ingredients to make the improvement Wilson is seeking. Ten starters are back from the top passing offense in the Big Ten and 19 starters overall. The recruiting class was one of the best they've had.

They start with five straight home games. Even the woeful defense that ranked last in the conference in many statistical categories last season should be improved.

The main question remains who will start at quarterback, and that hardly seems like a negative given the Hoosiers have three capable options.

Junior Cam Coffman, who started most of last season after Tre Roberson was injured, ranked second in the Big Ten with 248.5 yards per game. Roberson, a mobile sophomore, started in 2011 but broke his left leg in the second game of 2012. Nate Sudfeld came off the bench last season and threw seven touchdown passes and just one interception.

In addition to leading the conference last season with 311.2 passing yards per game, the Hoosiers ranked second with 442 total yards per game and fourth with 30.8 points per game.

"We've had a very, very healthy competition," Wilson said. "Those guys are great teammates, great leaders, all three of them. They're all capable of winning."

It helps that whoever is the Hoosiers quarterback — and it could be more than one — will be connecting with the Big Ten's deepest receiving corps.

"We have so much depth on this team, it doesn't matter who's out there," receiver Kofi Hughes said.

For all the positives the offense brought in 2012, the defense counteracted that many times. That's the area in which many improvements need to be made for the Hoosiers to take the steps they're expecting.

The Hoosiers have made only one bowl game since 1993, but with as much talent as they're returning, preseason polls have pegged them as a potential surprise of the Big Ten.

"We've got a lot of guys back," Wilson said. "We've got a great recruiting class and we're looking forward to getting started."

Up next: Penn State

sryan@tribune.com

Twitter @sryantribune

Twitter @sryantribune

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