Indiana coach optimistic heading into opener vs S Illinois

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana coach Kevin Wilson is optimistic heading into Saturday's season opener against Southern Illinois, saying he believes his team is deeper, stronger and healthier than any of his previous four seasons in Bloomington.

At the least, senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld should have plenty of different targets to choose from after he missed the final six games a year ago with a non-throwing shoulder injury.

''Hopefully, we can spread it around and get that ball not to just one guy,'' Wilson said Monday. ''We'd like to get back to the way it used to be getting five, six, seven or eight guys getting three, four or five touches a game.''

Indiana lost its top three wide receivers from a year ago - two to graduation and one (J-Shun Harris) to a season-ending knee injury this summer - and there has been plenty of competition in camp.

Wilson said Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones have emerged as the top two ''outside guys.'' But the Hoosiers hope to play as many as nine wide receivers in 2015, and perhaps as many as four tight ends, too.

Sudfeld, who enters the season on the watch lists for the Maxwell and Unitas awards, said he has a much higher comfort level with this year's group of receivers.

''Last year, I thought we were talented and things like that but I think we were a little bit complacent knowing that the year before we were very good offensively with the quarterbacks and receivers all on the same page,'' Sudfeld said. ''I think a lot of people just kind of believed that it would just happen again because we were the Indiana offense.''

Wilson said the offense has been strong throughout preseason camp, but the defense started making strides last week, too.

Notes: Indiana has picked up two transfers who will redshirt this season, practice with the team and play with the Hoosiers beginning in 2016. One of them is Wesley Green, a defensive back from South Carolina, and the other is Ja'Merez Bowen, an offensive lineman from Cincinnati.

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