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Nov 9, 2013; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman (6) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Football Player Preview: Tevin Coleman

Leading up the kickoff of Indiana’s season, Hoosier State of Mind is previewing the team’s key players. First up, starting running back Tevin Coleman.

Tevin Coleman burst onto the scene a season ago, despite the fact he was supposed to be the Robin to Stephen Houston’s Batman. Coleman quickly proved that the ball needed to be in his hands when he ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns in IU’s opening game versus Indiana State. He continued to wow two weeks later against Bowling Green when he gained another 129 yards on the ground and scored two more TDs.

Coleman finished his sophomore campaign with 958 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 131 carries (7.8 yards per carry). He caught 19 passes for 193 yards and one score. He missed the season’s final three games with a sprained ankle,  or he easily would have eclipsed 1000 yards on the ground and added to his touchdown total.

If Coleman proved anything last season, it’s that he can break off the big play. The distance of his longest run in each game showed his ability to spark the offense (58, 13, 43, 14, 44, 64, 20, 55, 75).

While quarterback Nate Sudfeld may be Indiana’s best offensive player, Coleman could be its most important. As much as IU loves to spread defenses out and toss the pigskin, the Hoosiers need to be able to run the ball. Sudfeld is good, but he can’t do it all by himself. It’s up to Coleman to keep defenses honest. If defenders have to focus on him and not the Hoosiers’ prolific passing attack, Sudfeld’s life will be much easier. The more diverse Indiana’s offense is, the better, and Coleman is the one player who can help IU achieve such diversity.

When thinking about what Coleman could do this season, I get goosebumps, and I’m sure opposing coaches share my feeling. Coleman is the featured back in an explosive offense. Indiana returns perhaps the Big Ten’s top offensive line. Sudfeld should be better as well. All signs are pointing to a huge season for the Hoosier tailback. In my opinion, the sky’s the limit for Coleman. Being one of the conference’s, if not the country’s, top running backs isn’t out of the question.

Prediction

1,150 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns

40 catches, 320 receiving yards, three touchdowns

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