I always push the previews to the very end. I'm going to consolidate the linebackers and defensive backs and special teams into one post.
The linebacking corps is intact on the outside, but IU is less experienced up the middle.
Will Patterson, junior. Patterson was second on the team in tackles last season and recovered three fumbles.
Geno Johnson, senior. Johnson had 58 tackles and one interception.
Matt Mayberry, junior. Mayberry didn't start last year, but recorded 42 tackles and will replace Adam McClurg (below) at middle linebacker.
Justin Carrington, junior. Carrington managed 37 tackles.
Adam McClurg. McClurg was third on the team with 99 tackles and also recorded 1.5 sacks. He's the only linebacker who received significant playing time that did not return.
Newcomers are the big story in the defensive backfield. Of the eight players listed on the two-deep in the backfield, four players, including three of the four cornerbacks, have never played a down for IU. This includes three of the four cornerbacks: starter Chris Atkins and backups Donnell Jones and Richard Council. The fourth, of course, isn't the typical rookie. Sophomore Jerimy Finch, who played for the Florida Gators in 2007 and was one of the most highly-regarded defensive players in the country as a high school senior, is listed as the backup strong safety.
Nick Polk, junior free safety. 74 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles.
Austin Thomas, junior strong safety. Team leading 112 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble.
Christopher Phillips, senior cornerback. Only 12 tackles, but 3 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles.
Joe Kleinsmith, senior free safety. 19 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble.
Tracy Porter. Porter was a first-day NFL draft pick of the Saints, intercepted two passes in his debut as a freshman and was a key contributor for IU for his entire career. Last season, he recorded six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He will be missed.
Leslie Majors. Major started alongside Porter, and recorded 62 tackles and one interception. Most naysayers regarding the IU defense will point to the loss of Porter and Majors.
All-American kicker Austin Starr, finally and deservedly a household name in the state and region after kicking the game winner against Purdue, returns for his senior year. Redshirt freshman Chris Hagerup will be the punter.
tracy Porter was a fine punt returner and will be replaced by Ray Fisher. Marcus Thigpen and Demetrius McCray return kickoffs, and hopefully Thigpen can return to his 2006 form.
That's it. Only 12.5 hours until kickoff.