In 2021, Indiana had more problems than answers.

There was the quarterback situation — poor performance compounded by injuries — an unexpectedly inconsistent defense, a pedestrian running game, a lack of skilled playmakers, a poor offensive scheme, and on and on and on.

Answers? Well, there weren’t many then. Indiana, which was ranked No. 17 in the preseason and was thought to be the most likely team to challenge Ohio State in the Big Ten East, finished 2-10 and was winless in the conference. But what about now? Has Tom Allen done enough to find answers for 2022 as the Hoosiers prepare for the start of spring practices?

Let’s take a look at the 5 biggest concerns … and possible answers.

Quarterback malaise

Coming off yet another injury the year before, Michael Penix could not recapture his previous magic in the early season, then was pushed to the sideline — again — by an injury. And none of IU’s backups proved to be capable of winning a football game in the Big Ten, as Jack Tuttle, Donaven McCulley and Grant Gremel failed to grab hold of the job.

It turned Indiana’s offense into a mess, incapable of even challenging most opposing defenses, let alone winning games. In the 9-game Big Ten season, IU scored in single-digits in 6 games and only once scored more than 15 on a Saturday.

After Penix decided to transfer following the season, ending an IU career highlighted by potential but besieged by injuries, the quarterback situation looked dire — or whatever is worse than that — because the Hoosiers had no clear answer for what to do at football’s most critical position in 2023. But Allen was saved, potentially, by the transfer portal.

Solution? In early January, Allen brought in Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak, who comes to Bloomington with credibility and a strong arm. Last season, he passed for 2,548 yards on a 65.3 completion rate with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’ll be given every opportunity and then some to win the job.

Offensive stench

Indiana did virtually nothing right on offense.

It ranked last in yardage in the Big Ten (only 289.9 per game) and second-to-last in points per game (17.3), an average that dropped to 10.4 in conference games. Toward the end of the season, it had become apparent that Allen had grown impatient with offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan and it wasn’t long after the Hoosiers’ loss to the Boilermakers in the Old Oaken Bucket season-finale that the play-caller was released.

Solution? Indiana hopes fresh eyes will help to fix the ailments. It hired Walt Ball as the new OC, charging the former head coach at UMass with restoring the play-making ability to the Hoosiers’ offense. He’ll have a ton of work to do, as Indiana is likely to be breaking in new starters at quarterback, running back, a couple wide receiver positions, tight end and at least a couple offensive linemen.

A missing D

Allen says he’ll be a bigger part of the Hoosiers’ defensive preparation, again, after IU took a big step back in 2021. Gone were the mass turnovers the Hoosiers created the year before, which had served as a gigantic reason why Indiana had one of its best seasons ever in 2020.

Solution? The defense also has a new coordinator, as Chad Wilt was hired in mid-January to replaced Charlton Warren, who left IU after only one season to become the DC at North Carolina. Wilt, who was the defensive line coach at Minnesota the last 2 seasons, will need to restore the Hoosiers’ aggressive approach in 2022, as they failed to generate the same kind of production as the year before. In ’21, IU ranked last in the B1G in interceptions (5) and sacks (17).

Win the winnables

Perhaps Indiana needs to bring its expectations back in line.

The program might have been trying to overshoot in 2021, thinking it could win the Big Ten East, get to the league championship game and perhaps make the Rose Bowl or even the Playoff. But when it all turned sideways, Allen failed to get his team to adjust its expectations.

Now is the time to do so.

Solution? Indiana can win 6 games next season and get back to the postseason for what would be the 3rd time in 4 seasons, but it needs to win the winnable games. And IU starts with 3 of them, home games vs. Illinois, Idaho and Western Kentucky. if the Hoosiers can start 3-0, then maybe they can creep back into the bowl picture.

Restoring belief

In 2020, Indiana was confident it could beat about anyone.

The Hoosiers took Ohio State to the brink as part of a 6-2 campaign that’s only real blemish might have been the egg vs. Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl.

But the confidence was lost last season, as Indiana stacked loss upon loss. By the Rutgers’ game in the third-to-last week of the season, it almost looked as if IU had quit. The Hoosiers were beaten 38-3 — at home — by a mediocre Scarlet Knights’ squad. It was ugly.

Solution? Allen’s biggest challenge this season might be making sure the Hoosiers believe they can win again at a high level, after the beatings they took. It’s been since late September since they won a football game, and they were competitive in only one game in the Big Ten, a 38-35 loss at Maryland (although it could also be argued they proved one of the biggest challenges to Michigan State).