OFFENSIVE MVP: RB STEPHEN HOUSTON
He started slow as the backup to Matt Perez, but Houston has been the Hoosiers’ best offensive weapon in recent weeks. He has 354 yards on 73 carries and two touchdowns on the season, including an impressive 263 yards in three Big Ten games.
Houston, a junior college transfer, has become an unexpected offensive leader for a struggling IU squad.
Now, if only the Hoosiers could find a passing game to complement Houston’s explosive running attack.
DEFENSIVE MVP: S MARK MURPHY
The coaches love him, and it’s easy to understand why. The freshman has filled a variety of roles for the IU defense this season, and he’s been solid in almost every game. Murphy even moved to linebacker in Leon Beckum’s absence, a position he hadn’t played before.
Murphy is tied for third on the team with 35 tackles, and he also had an interception return for a touchdown to spark the Hoosiers against North Texas. He hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but Murphy has definitely shown his potential as a standout safety in the first seven games.
OFFENSIVE SLEEPER: WR DUWYCE WILSON
He dealt with a back injury for a few weeks, but Wilson is finally healthy and I expect him to have a big second half. Wilson has only 15 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the first seven games, and most of that production came in two games against Virginia and South Carolina State.
As I mentioned in a column earlier this year, Wilson has the talent to be “The Next Big Thing” for IU.
He had a couple breakout games early, but he’s been inconsistent of late. Some of that has to do with injury and some of that has to do with lack of production at the quarterback position. But with the receivers struggling as a unit, Wilson needs to be the guy that helps them break out of a midseason slump.
DEFENSIVE SLEEPER: S DREW HARDIN
Hardin stepped into the lineup after Jarrell Drane got hurt, and he’s made some strides in recent weeks.
Hardin leads the Hoosiers with 27 tackles in Big Ten play, including 21 solo tackles. He still makes too many mistakes, but he’s young and he’s learning.
It helps that Hardin has gotten the most playing time against Big Ten competition. By the time IU plays Purdue at the end of the season, Hardin will probably feel like a veteran on the field.