If there is a word for déjà vu the third time, that’s what Coach Kevin Wilson and the IU football team are experiencing in 2015.
Since 2013, the preseason narrative has been the same —
IU should make a bowl game. IU is too talented not to make a bowl game. IU will make a bowl game.
And yet, here we are.
The bowling shoes have sat for seven years, collecting dust in the IU locker room.
So what makes 2015 different?
I’ve stared at the cursor a long time trying to answer that one.
This team is by no means identical to years past. There are new names and faces. New strengths and weaknesses. New challenges, new nuances.
And for the first time since 2012, we have a full two weeks of classes to speculate about all of them.
But to be frank, I’m not interested in making declarations 12 days before an official down of football is played.
Because it’s all unproven.
Sizing up IU now is like trying to evaluate a road while it’s under construction, or a film during the editing process.
Whatever we think we know about this team, we simply don’t, nor can we profess to.
Just take a look at the quarterback.
Nate Sudfeld has received more preseason hype than any IU football player in recent memory, but Wilson himself pointed out that his “veteran” quarterback has only 14 starts on his résumé.
What about the receiving corps?
Sure, the 14 healthy receivers on roster have a combined 19 receptions of Division I experience.
But returnees also had the onerous task of catching passes from Zander Diamont last year — that is, when he actually managed to get them off.
Then there’s the defense — a conundrum, as always.
A secondary of starters with no more than a year of on-field experience is assailable at best, but it is also anchored by an accomplished defensive line that is well-adjusted in its second year of the 3-4 scheme.
There is talent aplenty on the 2015 roster which, between summer standouts such as corner Rashard Fant and wide out Mitchell Paige, is more than capable of surprising us.
As we’ve seen in years past, it’s also capable of letting us down.
Right now, Wilson and his guys will tell you the usual buzz words. Things are “better,” “improving” and “making progress,” as they should be.
But with a young and inexperienced roster, how much does progress translate to success on the field?
The season and with it, IU’s bowl hopes, are still very much up in the air.
So sit tight, and enjoy the possibilities.
Sept. 5 is coming.
Then, we can begin to have the answers.