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2008 Non-opponent Double Preview

Shall we take a look at the two Big Ten teams that rotate off Michigan's schedule in 2008? We shall. Obviously, these previews will be less in-depth than teams that I actually have a vested interest in caring about.

QB Kellen Lewis returns to the team after a spring and summer spent earning his way back onto it. He is a true dual-threat, and was the leader of the IU offense last year. Lewis was second in the conference only to game-manager Todd Boeckman in pass efficiency. Marcus Thigpen trailed Lewis in rushing yards last year, but is expected to make his return to the starting position in IU's backfield (backup Bryan Payton returns as well, after outgaining Thigpen on a ypc-basis). In the WR corps, Indiana loses brobdingnagian target James Hardy, who declared early for the NFL draft. Andrew Means and Ray Fisher will have to carry the load for a WR corps that was so dependent on one player last year. Along the front, true juniors Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon return at left tackle and guard, respectively, but the other three positions must be replaced. Redshirt sophomore Alex Perry will step in at center, redshirt sophomore Cody Faulkner will play right guard, and fellow redshirt sophomore Mike Stark will play the final tackle position.

Jammie Kerlew returns at one end position, with Greg Middleton, the NCAA's leading sacker in 2007, back at the other spot. Greg Brown returns at one tackle position, and the other will be filled by redshirt sophomore Deonte Mack. Will Patterson and Geno Johnson will return at their outside linebacker positions, but Adam McClurg is gone in the middle, and true junior Matt Mayberry will step in. The Hoosiers are fielding a pair of new starting corners, but they have experience, as 5th-year Chris Phillips will fill one spot, and redshirt junior Bruce Hampton will hold down the other. Redshirt juniors Nick Polk and Austin Thomas return as the starting safeties.

After going bowling a year ago, the Hoosiers may be poised to make a return trip to a December game. January isn't out of the question either, as they have an easy OOC schedule (2 MAC teams, reclassifying Western Kentucky, and 1-AA Murray State), and miss likely-dominant Ohio State and wildcard Michigan. This will be a good building year as well, seeing as how the Hoosiers return nearly everyone in 2009 (unless Middleton or Lewis goes pro or gets kicked off the team). We may be seeing Indiana take a step from a perennial bottom-feeder to a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten squad.

Iowa didn't have mich in the way of offense last year, and losing RB Albert Young, who will be replaced by a motley crew of white walkons named "Paki," freshmen, and Teletubbies, certainly can't help. What will help, however, is a more experienced Jake Christensen (often the lone bright spot for the UI offense last year), and the return of some white WR goodness in the form of Andy Brodell. Tight end Tony Moeaki will play an important role in the Iowa passing game as well. If injuries and rampant lawlessness don't help a team's short-term outlook, they do help develop young depth, which was the case for the Iowa WR corps last year, with Derrell Johson-Koulian, Trey Stross, and James Cleveland getting the majority of the passes. Center will be manned by either junior Rafael Eubanks or senior Rob Bruggeman, either of whom is a good option. The rest of the line could be manned by returning starters, like sophomore left tackle Bryan Bulaga (sliding out from guard), junior left guard Dan Doering, senior right guard Seth Olsen, and junior right tackle Kyle Calloway. Doering is being pushed by sophomore Julian Vandervelde for the starting nod.

Defensive tackle is the strong point of the Iowa defense, with Matt Kroul and Mitch "Unusual Punishment" King returning as multi-year starters for their final campaign. The defensive ends, however, are all new. Sophomores Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard will fill those positions, though thy both have nearly enough size to play on the inside as well (and one or both may do just that next year). AJ Edd, Dacody Coleman, and Jeff Tarpinian are the starting LBs. Replacing the Mikes Humpal and Klinkenborg (the team's leading tacklers) will be a tough test on the linebacking corps. White-guy CB (how to make an Iowa preview: repeatedly point out the white guys at positions that white guys shouldn't be playing) Adam "Sucky" Shada is gone, and the corners will be Bradley Fletcher and the winner of the Jordan Bernstine/Drew Gardner position battle. The safeties will be filled by senior Harold Dalton and sophomore Brett Greenwood.

Despite having all sorts of trouble with injuries, not raping people, etc., Iowa managed to turn in a bowl-eligible 6-6 last year. If they can stay helathy this year, and find any sort of running game from Paki and the Fun Bunch, they could make the leap to an actual bowl in 2008.

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“2008 Non-opponent Double Preview”