Hoosiers hopeful of defensive improvement

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 5, 2014 at 2:34 am •  Published: August 5, 2014

The Hoosiers opened practice Monday with 286-pound Bobby Richardson, 307-pound Adarius Rayner and 325-pound Ralph Green III listed as the defensive line starters, and Mangieri, 260 pounds, and 240-pound David Cooper as the No. 1 outside linebackers.

Knorr also has 14 of his top 15 tacklers back from last season, including nine starters and cornerback Tim Bennett, who led the nation with 20 pass breakups in 2013.

"We looked at how many points we gave up and how many turnovers we created (17) versus other fast, up-tempo teams and we're going to be on the field a little more," Knorr said. "We embrace that as an opportunity. But takeaways are something that's going to be very important to us because if we get those, that's two or three more (offensive) possessions per game."

The philosophical changes have been noticeable as the Hoosiers went through spring practice and summer workouts.

Hardin said he was eager to show off Indiana's new physical, aggressive style, and Bennett smiled when asked about the emphasis on turnovers.

"It's controlled chaos out there," Bennett said. "If the quarterback doesn't know what's going on, you can take advantage of that split second and step in front of a receiver and take it away."

But the most promising sign of a turnaround might are the subtleties Wilson has noticed in practice, like the noise level.

"I saw it every day. I saw a team that had a vibe and a bounce. I think as much as anything, not schematics or schemes or anything in coaching, I just think it's where the kids are," Wilson said. "We've just recruited harder and tried to develop. It's still not close to where it ought to be. I didn't say it's what we want. We have a long way to go to what we needed to get to as a team."