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Hoosier Headlines for September 1, 2012: gameday!

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Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

It's finally here. In almost exactly four hours, the IU football season will kick off. Feel free to use this post as an open thread for discussion of any of the early games, which begin in an hour with Navy-Notre Dame. For now, here's what everyone else is saying about IU and this game:

"We have to score a lot more points, too. Everybody talks about our 'D' struggling, we averaged (18.3 points in the conference). That's as poor an offense as I have been around since 1999. So we need to score points, because that will help our defense. I think 59 percent of the time that we moved to the 40-yard line, we scored points."

The second-year head coach has reasonable expectations for improvement this season after being "embarrassed" last year with a winless Big Ten record. Wilson's effort to improve team speed with the recruitment of junior college talent and his faith in new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell could result in marginal improvement for a team that has nowhere to go but up.

The Sycamores are ranked No. 23 in the FCS, but Indiana should have enough firepower to pull ahead early. Roberson will make a few mistakes, the defense will struggle at times and the game won't be pretty. In the end, Indiana should have enough talent to pull away for the victory.

Houston is in a battle for the starting spot this season. He’s listed behind freshman running back Tevin Coleman on the depth chart for Saturday’s game against Indiana State. D’Angelo Roberts is the third running back listed.

Wilson initially tried to downplay the move's significance Tuesday, saying all three of IU's top ball carriers -- Coleman, Houston and D'Angelo Roberts -- would be used. But when pressed to find out if Coleman won the job or Houston lost it, Wilson admitted it may have been more of the latter.

Roberson spent the off-season working on his footwork, his throwing motion, his accuracy and efficiency. He’s changed his style so much since last November that Hoosiers fans might not even recognize him against Indiana State in Saturday night’s season opener.

And no true freshman in the Big Ten made more tackles last season than the Hoosiers’ Mark Murphy. The versatile Murphy — he started three games at weakside linebacker and six more at safety — had 76 tackles, second on the team to the since-graduated Jeff Thomas. Murphy led IU with 44 solo tackles.

Steal a road win in the Big Ten: It’s usually easier to win at home, of course, but Indiana’s home conference slate is a tough one — Michigan State and Ohio State back-to-back to start October, Iowa and Wisconsin back-to-back to start November. The road schedule includes winnable games at Illinois and Penn State.

"I'm personally embarrassed, and if we're going to win this year significantly and make strides, the first thing that has to happen is I have to coach, and our coaches have to coach better," said Wilson. "I said a year ago that we have got some talent. It's getting the attitude right and the ability of our coaches to reach and understand our talent and make adjustments."

The Sycamores will head to Indiana University for the season opener against the Hoosiers this Saturday – a game Bell said he and his teammates have been preparing for since the end of last season; the game is also an opportunity for some players to show the Hoosier coaching staff what they’ve missed out on. "None of us here have gotten offers from IU. We’re just going to go there Saturday and we’re going to prove how they looked over a lot of great players," he said.

"We're not just trying to get in the playoffs this year, we're trying to win everything," Bell said, his eyes growing in size. "I've always wanted to play in those lights and under that type of pressure, and I can see us going to Dallas and having some fun." Three years ago, a comment like that would have drawn nothing but snickers and snide comments at the student union. But Indiana State has won 13 games since ending its long skid midway through the 2009 season.

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