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Indiana Football: Hoosiers' 2021 Spring Preview

Indiana Football: Hoosiers' 2021 Spring Preview

Indiana Football: Hoosiers' 2021 Spring Preview

The Indiana Hoosiers are entering the spring feeling good about where they stand in the Big Ten. No, these Hoosiers aren't about to dethrone Ohio State for the top spot in the conference, but Indiana knows they have what it takes to finish as high as second place in the Big Ten East, a division that includes Penn State and Michigan. Indiana went 6-2 last season with their only losses coming against the Buckeyes and to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl.

So, what's next for the Hoosiers? A new defensive coordinator, a quarterback rehabbing, and a running back competition are just a few of the storylines to be following in Bloomington as Indiana looks to prove the 2020 season was no fluke on the football field.

5 Storylines to Watch During Indiana's Spring Practice

1. Michael Penix Jr. still rehabbing from torn ACL

The importance of Penix to the Hoosiers is pretty obvious. When healthy, he gives the Indiana offense a reliable quarterback capable of making plays happen through the air and, when needed, on the ground. Unfortunately, Indiana's fantastic season lost a little bit of steam late last season when Penix suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Don't expect to see Penix too active in the spring while he continues to rehab, but the good news for Indiana is it does seem he's is on track to be ready for the fall.

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2. Who is next up at running back?

The battle is underway to determine who will be Indiana's next primary running back. With Stevie Scott dashing off to the NFL, the door is wide open in Bloomington. Sampson James is likely the player to beat for the top spot on the depth chart, but Tim Baldwin Jr. is a player that could be ready to break out a little bit more in 2021.

3. Looking for impact transfers

Like a number of college football teams, Indiana is hoping some new additions through the transfer portal will help plug a couple of notable holes in the roster in 2021 rather than wait for new recruits to fully develop. Among the newest additions is former Florida State wide receiver D.J. Matthews, who looks to help fill the void left by star wide receiver Whop Philyor. Matthews was Florida State's second-leading receiver in 2019, but did not play for the Seminoles last season after entering the transfer portal in September.

4. Continuing with a new defensive coordinator

Indiana's defense has improved in recent years by allowing fewer yards and points per game. One of the architects of that defense, Kane Wommack, is no longer with the program after taking a head coaching opportunity with South Alabama. Head coach Tom Allen didn't have to look far for his next defensive coordinator, as linebackers coach Charlton Warren will take on the role.

5. How Indiana continues to raise its bar

Spring offers a chance for every program to feel optimistic about where things are heading, but now is the time for Indiana to find new ways to raise the bar for success. Having the 2020 season end with a loss in a bowl game should help with the motivation to start strong and finish stronger in 2021, and Allen has certainly done a terrific job of changing the culture around the program. He was just rewarded with a raise and another year added to his contract. With Allen firmly entrenched at the top, buying into the message that hard work now will lead to taking the next step in the fall is essential for the Hoosiers, a team that should once again be fun to watch on the field in 2021.

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Patreon, on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, and Like him on Facebook.