Indiana has top offensive line

Sep 20, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld (7) calls a play against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld (7) calls a play against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Indiana starting offensive line:

LT: Brandon Knight, LG: Jacob Bailey, C: Wes Rogers, RG: Dan Feeney, RT: Dimitric Camiel

Indiana has been one of the nation’s top offenses over the last couple of seasons thanks to a number of key player like Nate Sudfeld, Tevin Coleman, and Jordan Howard. But don’t forget to give credit to the offensive line, who have been providing excellent protection against top defenses.

Despite losing Jason Spriggs, now with the Green Bay Packers, the Hoosiers still possess one of the best offensive lines in the conference. While Spriggs was class, replacement Brandon Knight who is entering his sophomore season, is looking like a solid prospect. He will be tasked with protecting newcomer quarterback Richard Lagow’s blindside, and ensuring he has enough time to throw in the pocket. Lagow can move, but is primarily a pocket-passer like Nate Sudfeld was.

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports /

It will be of the utmost importance to protect Lagow. Coming in as a JuCo transfer, he will face an entirely new class of defenders in the Big Ten, and having the confidence to step up and make big throws will be key. He won’t want to be looking over his shoulder the whole time, wondering if he will take a big hit. The O-line also needs to open up lanes for Devine Redding, who is going into his first season as the program’s primary back, taking over for Jordan Howard who moved on to the NFL with the Chicago Bears. Despite only starting games in Howard’s absence, Redding was still able to rack up over a thousand yards, and promises to be yet another premier Indiana back.

Indiana still has All-American guard Dan Feeney at their disposal. Feeney played a big part in only allowing 13 sacks last season – a conference low. What is even more impressive about the stat, is there were a few games where Zander Diamont started at quarterback, who was extremely inexperienced and a scrambler. Protecting him was much harder, yet the line still got the job done. Feeney has already been predicted to be another All-American, and will have to take Sprigg’s responsibility of leading the O-line.

Lining up to Feeney’s right, is Dimitric Camiel. Standing at 6’7”, and weighing around 320 pounds, Camiel has the size, as well as the skill, to make it as a professional. With Feeney and Camiel both securing the right side of the field, expect a lot of runs to go that way. Their chemistry is unmatched, as they have played a majority of their games together.

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The only concerns surrounding Indiana’s offensive line surround left guard Jacob Bailey, and center Wes Rogers. Bailey started the last the final seven games of the Hoosiers’ previous season, and played well, but is still not a guarantee. Rogers is another player who is fairly inexperienced as a starter. He has appeared in several games throughout his Indiana career, but still needs to prove himself. With these two next to each other, there may be some weakness in the left-inside part of the line, which could prove trouble in the running game.

Luckily, Indiana has some solid replacements if things become inauspicious. Wes Martin was the regular starter at left guard last season, but wasn’t getting the job done by Kevin Wilson’s standards. Despite being dropped in a few games, he was named to the All-Freshman team. He will be more than happy to step in if Bailey fails or goes down with an injury. There is also Delroy Baker, who at a staggering 6’6”, could be a useful asset off the bench.

There are plenty of reasons to get excited about this Indiana offense. A lot of versatile RBs and WRs are sure to turn heads, but they won’t be able to shine without solid protection. It all starts at the line of scrimmage, and Indiana should have the advantage most of the time. You don’t lead the Big Ten in total offense without a brick wall protecting your ball-handlers. Despite losing Spriggs, Indiana’s offensive line should prove to be one of the best in the nation.