This is the first in a series of posts previewing the 2010 Hoosiers position by position. I haven't endeavored to list every player on the roster, but to provide an overview of the players likely to contribute or who have contributed in the past. As always, if you think I am missing anyone, please let me know.
Ben Chappell started every game at quarterback for IU in 2009 and played quite a bit in 2008, so it's beyond dispute that the senior will be IU's primary quarterback in 2010. Still, Bill Lynch has shown a willingness to mix things up on a play-by-play, series-by-series basis both in 2008 (when Chappell split time with Kellen Lewis) and 2009 (when then WR, now S Mitchell Evans took snaps in a Wildcat formation from time to time). How much Wildcat will we see this year, and from whom?
Ben Chappell, senior. Chappell saw limited action as a freshman and shared time with Kellen Lewis as a sophomore. As a junior, Chappell took over the starting spot and had a reasonably good year. Chappell completed 62.5 percent of his passes and averaged nearly 250 yards per game, but had only 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. The former reflects IU's red zone struggles in 2009. As a senior, perhaps Chappell can help IU get over the hump from inside the 20. Given the inexperience on the defensive side of the ball, the Hoosiers will need the points.
Chappell is the Big Ten's returning leader in passing yards (2941), and is behind Kirk Cousins and Terrelle Pryor in touchdowns. On the other hand, Chappell (tied with Adam Weber and Ricky Stanzi) led the Big Ten with 15 interceptions. In 2009, Chappell improved his completion percentage by 10 percent from 2008. Even half as much improvement in 2010, combined with a reduction in interceptions, would be good news.
Adam Follett, sophomore. Follett is the only returning quarterback who saw any game action in 2009. He stepped in briefly in road games against Akron and Virginia and completed 1 of 3 passes. At the beginning of spring practice, Follett was listed at #2 on the quarterback depth chart, but he played sparingly in the spring game.
Mitchell Evans, senior. Evans isn't really gone. He moved back to defense and will be playing safety this year. Last year, Evans often lined up at quarterback and was 3-7 passing and ran for 131 yards. His Wildcat duties seem likely to be handled by one or both of the redshirt freshmen discussed below.
Edward Wright-Baker, redshirt freshman. Wright-Baker, from Jeffersonville, Indiana, has IU fans wondering if he could be another dual threat star, following in the footsteps of Antwaan Randle El and Kellen Lewis. As a senior at Jeffersonville, Wright-Baker threw for 1757 yards and 13 TDs to only 5 interceptions, and added 850 yards rushing and 18 rushing touchdowns. The biggest red flag raised by Wright-Baker's high school stats relates to his completion percentage (56.9). In the spring game, Wright-Baker was 8-20 passing for 54 yards, and yielded -4 yards on four rushing attempts.
Dusty Kiel, redshirt freshman. If the last name and hometown (Columbus, Indiana) sound familiar, it may be because you remember Kiel's uncle, Blair Kiel, a four-year starter at quarterback for Notre Dame in the early 1980s. Kiel's high school numbers were dazzling: as a senior, he threw for 3172 yards, 35TD/8INT, and ran for 1126 yards and 14 TDs. Clearly, Edward Wright-Baker is not the only running threat on the QB depth chart. His spring game numbers? Not so dazzling. He went 4-10 with 2 interceptions.
NOTE: The Hoosiers did not sign any quarterbacks in the 2010 recruiting class. Kofi Hughes, a star quarterback at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, now is listed as a WR on the roster.
In summary, given the inventive offense that we saw from IU last season, I suspect that we will see some action from either Wright-Baker or Kiel. Whether both will play or if a clear leader will emerge during fall practice is anyone's guess. Ultimately, however, the success of the offense and the team are in Ben Chappell's hands.