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Opponent Q&A: Indianapolis Star Indiana Beat Writer Terry Hutchens

Each week, InsideNU will bring you an opponent’s take on the matchup ahead in the interest of providing a wider perspective on each game. This week, for an inside look on Indiana, we've come up with the best of the best. And not just in a figurative, feel-good way. It's official -- Terry Hutchens, who is in his 15th year covering Indiana University men's basketball and football for the Indianapolis Star, has been honored as Indiana's Sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association five times in the last six years and four years in a row. His fourth book, titled "Rising from the Ashes: The Return of Indiana University Basketball", comes out next week. When he's not covering IU's revenue-producing sports or authoring Hoosier-specific novels, Hutchens teaches journalism at, you guessed it, Indiana. To read Hutchens's work, check our his IU insider blog on The Star's website. Follow him on Twitter @indystar_hutch.

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What's the biggest change you've noticed since new coach Kevin Wilson took over in December 2010? Is the general consensus that Wilson has the program headed in the right direction, or is the fan base/administration skeptical he can turn the program around? When do you expect to see noticeable signs of on-field improvement?

TH: I think the jury is still out on Kevin Wilson at this point. Last year was kind of a rough start. IU won one game, had a ton of players leave the team for various reasons, and the Hoosiers ended up playing more freshmen than any team in the country. This year, Wilson went out and picked up eight junior college players -- seven on defense -- figuring he needed some experienced players to make up for all the ones that left. Three of them are starting including linebackers David Cooper and Jacarri Alexander, and quarterback Cameron Coffman. As for Wilson and the expectations, you have to remember this is Indiana football and while the fan base would love to see IU turn things around, it's just been so long that Indiana has had a consistent winner it's not like the heat has really been turned up just yet. I would think after Wilson has had two or three recruiting classes and the freshmen who played last year right away get to be seniors then you'll see a chance for more consistent winning.

Last season Indiana went 1-11 with zero Big Ten wins. What are the reasonable expectations this season? How many (if any) league victories do you expect?

TH: Normally, I would have said since this is the Big Ten I wouldn't expect any conference victories. This year though, I'm saying since this is the Big Ten, perhaps Indiana can beat some of these teams. The conference hasn't looked good. IU plays Iowa in Bloomington and right now I'd have to say that's a game that the Hoosiers could at least be competitive in. IU travels to Illinois and the Illini just gave up big points to Louisiana Tech. IU plays at Penn State, a team that just lost its 14th player this week in the post-scandal era. At the same time, this is Indiana and I'm sure all of those teams have already counted IU in the win column as well. I'll be surprised if IU goes winless in the Big Ten for the second year in a row. The Hoosiers haven't had back-to-back winless conference seasons in 50 years.

How much does the loss of Tre Roberson change the complexion of the offense? Have you been impressed with his replacement, Cameron Coffman?

TH: Cameron Coffman was impressive in his first start against Ball State. He had a big first half in particular and had 231 yards at the break. He had a tough third quarter and then suffered a hip pointer and didn't play in the fourth. His replacement, true freshman Nate Sudfeld, had a big fourth quarter. So I think both of Roberson's replacements are capable guys. Sudfeld has the stronger arm but Coffman is a football player. He's smart, makes good decisions and has a knack for getting the offense down the field. Neither of the two can come close to Roberson in terms of athleticism. And no one is expecting that. But I think they'll both step in and the offense won't be a lot different. It will be just a little more reliant on the running backs to get some of the yardage that Roberson would have picked up in the open field. It will also allow defenses to not have to play as honest as it would if a running threat like Roberson was in the game.

Neither Cody Latimer nor Shane Wynn finished as one of the Hoosiers' top five receivers last season, yet through three games, both players sit top IU's receiving charts. What changed have you noticed in their games this season? Do you expect them to keep up this hot start?

TH: Latimer and Wynn both are deep threats and both quarterbacks appear able to get them the ball. Stretching the field like that will open up more things for some of the slot receivers. What has changed about them? I just think it's more of a case of having a QB that can help them be successful. Roberson was almost a run first pass second quarterback last season. When that's the case, quarterbacks give up a lot of times on that deep route because they have to make a quicker decision as to whether they're going to take off and run. Yes, I think they'll keep up the hot start. I don't think IU will have trouble scoring points moving forward. The defense is another story.

Besides Stephen Houston Wynn, and Latimer, who would you say are the Hoosiers' biggest playmakers on offense? What about on defense?

TH: D'Angelo Roberts is sneaky quick and the true freshman tailback, Tevin Coleman, is actually No. 1 on the depth chart. They see a lot of upside with him. Kofi Hughes is off to a bit of a slow start but once he gets involved in the offense I would think he's a player who could have big play capabilities. Another one is wide receiver Duwyce Wilson. As for defense, IU is decent up front with guys like Adam Reploge and Larry Black Jr. but the big question marks have been in the secondary. If opposing quarterbacks have time to throw, it will be a long afternoon for the Hoosiers.

What is IU's greatest strength? Greatest weakness?

TH: The greatest strength I think is an offensive system in the second year with Kevin Wilson that is very uptempo, no-huddle and can score quickly. IU has decent playmakers and a capable quarterback. The weakness is IU's defense as a whole. And until that changes, IU won't have a chance to get to the six-win plateau.

Prediction?

TH: I think IU will score and will have some success on that side of the ball. But this was a defense that gave up 59 points to Northwestern last year in Bloomington. I don't think it will be 50 plus again but I'm going to go with 42-22 Northwestern.