It took all of four days for the Hoosiers to experience their first hardships from injuries, poor academics and poor life choices. Chase Hoobler, probably our most consistent and experienced linebacker when he's playing (he missed 6 games due to injury last year) will likely not see the field this season. Hoobler has been sidelined with a stress fracture in the foot and no one is certain when he'll be back. He has 5 months until the end of the season if we assume a bowl game and at the bare minimum a stress fracture according to a very shallow Google session is going to take 10 weeks of healing and rehabbing.
Due to the shift away from Hoobler, since at best we get him back halfway through the season for the Michigan game in Ann Arbor, the linebacking corps is going to have to shuffle. According to Matt Weaver of Rivals' discussion with Coach Mallory, we could see a shift of David Cooper to OLB and have an opportunity to see our first true freshman in TJ Simmons get his chance to shine. By all accounts, Simmons is greatly impressing the coaches and of all that freshman he now appears in the best position to showcase his talents early.
On the poor life choices end of things, Anthony Marshall, our starting CB has been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules. Again, this one is painful because of a lack of depth. It may again force a true freshman into a role he may not be ready for. Marshall's dismissal could lead into four-star athlete and freshman Rashard Fant getting his first shot at college football early. Fant is one of those guys that came in without a true known position. Now with the dismissal of Marshall you can be certain that Fant will be working his way into the rotation at CB. May not start over Tim Bennett or Kenny Mullen right off the bat, but he'll get his opportunities.
Finally on the academic end of things, we're hurt more for the long term than the short. The loss of Taj Williams isn't fun, because the guy is a stud prospect in terms of wide receiver but we're stacked there this year and it would have been hard for him to earn too many receptions. Shane Wynn, Cody Latimer, Ted Bolser, Duwyce Wilson and Nick Stoner will all get their fair share of receptions. Williams probably wouldn't have cracked that corps or receivers unless he showed some prolific talent right away that could top the bevy of experience and savvy that the talented veterans have. Still there's a chance he could qualify for the spring semester and IU fans should desperately hope for that. Williams is the kind of known talent coming out of high school, that we don't normally see at IU.
Maurice Swain, freshman DT also failed to qualify academically. He and Williams fell victim to the same problems Ron Patterson faced last summer. Swain is another one of those guys that are painful losses for down the road, but not immediately this season. He would have factored into the DT rotation, but likely on the back end of it along with fellow freshman, Darius Latham. Luckily, Latham will still be around and Wilson brought in a bevy of DTs in the 2013 class. JuCo transfer Jordan Heiderman will help feather the blow of losing Swain.
In the end the difficulties Indiana football has already experienced before even getting a week of practice under their belt is troubling but not crippling. Hoobler and Marshall's loss will kill our depth at already thin positions of LB and CB, but it isn't something Indiana football has never dealt with. Traditionally we have always been thin there. I'm not sure why we expected it to change. The room for error is just much smaller and if we see more injuries then even more young guys are going to get baptism by fire. We should know more as the guys get through their first week of camp and we start hearing more from the coaches about the freshman that are now on campus and participating in a larger capacity with the team.