The Indiana Hoosiers enter 2020 looking to take another step forward after its first eight-win season since 1993. Tom Allen finally got Indiana over the last hurdle to get to a bowl game after back-to-back five-win seasons, but now the bar has been raised. How will the Hoosiers follow up their memorable 2019 campaign?
This spring brings about some notable changes and presents Allen and his program with some legitimate concerns. The transfer portal has not been particularly kind to Indiana this offseason, but many key players are still in the fold. Throw in a few important additions through recruiting and graduate transfers and Indiana may be able to fill a couple of holes fairly quickly. Will that be enough to set the tone for Indiana's upcoming season?
5 Storylines to Watch During Indiana's Spring Practice
1. A new offensive coordinator for the Hoosiers
Indiana is certainly not alone this spring in having to fill some assistant coaching positions this offseason. This spring will usher in a brand-new offensive coordinator after Kalen DeBoer was hired to be Fresno State's head coach. DeBoer also took Indiana's special teams coordinator, William Inge, with him. Tom Allen opted to promote from within his current staff by bumping tight ends coach Nick Sheridan to offensive coordinator. An in-house promotion should lead to about as much consistency as you can get for Indiana, but Sheridan will have a few key positions to address.
2. Developing backfield depth
The good news for Indiana is leading rusher Stevie Scott is still a Hoosier. The bad news is that there are plenty of questions regarding the depth behind him. Indiana has seen four running backs enter the transfer portal since last season, although Sampson James decided to withdraw his name prior to the start of spring practice. That means Indiana's top two rushers from last season are back, but Ronnie Walker, Ivory Winters, and Cole Gest all seem headed to another school. So who will emerge behind Scott and James? Tim Baldwin is the most interesting player to keep an eye on this spring.
3. Michael Penix Jr. being healthy is a positive
Joining the transfer portal fun since the end of the 2019 season was quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who helped save the season for the Hoosiers. With Ramsey out of the picture in 2020, it will be important to keep Penix healthy. Penix has been cleared for spring practices and is expected to be good to go for the upcoming season. Penix completed 68.8 percent of his pass attempts last season with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, and he chipped in 119 yards and two scores on the ground during his freshman season. Jack Tuttle will benefit from the absence of Ramsey, so Indiana can have their likely backup more equipped for the moment should it be necessary in the fall.
4. How soon does new defensive lineman Damarjhe Lewis make an impact?
One of Indiana's biggest recruiting hauls in the Class of 2020 was defensive lineman Damarjhe Lewis. Lewis is expected to bring some explosiveness to the defensive front, and having him as an early enrollee for the spring should put him on the fast track to getting in the mix. Lewis was previously committed to Auburn, so Indiana head coach Tom Allen and his staff hope Lewis brings some of that so-called "SEC speed" to Bloomington.
5. Indiana has a new strength coach, out of necessity
It rarely gets much attention this time of the year, but Indiana may be undergoing some changes in the strength and conditioning program this spring. Former strength and conditioning coach David Ballou left the program to fill a vacancy at Alabama. Although it hasn't been announced by the school, reports say that Aaron Wellman, who has spent the past four years with the New York Giants, will fill Ballou's spot on Allen's staff. Whoever it ends up being, there will be a time of transition as the new coach could introduce new workout methods and philosophies. How much of an impact this makes, especially in the spring, remains to be seen, but it could lead to some new looks in the gym.
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Patreon, on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of iuhoosiers.com)