Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
Where do we start about a defense that just let up over 500 yards rushing to Wisconsin last week, and has looked lost for basically the entire season? Well, how about starting with the three keys for this defense to help the Hoosiers come out with a big upset win in Columbus.
1. Limit the Big Plays- This concept went out the window on the first play last week in Madison. The Buckeyes bring several big play threats to the table on offense. Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Corey Brown, and Devin Smith can all take the ball to the house from anywhere on the field. The Buckeyes will also be looking for some style points to help get them closer to the coveted number one or two BCS spots. The Hoosiers cannot let those four run wild and open all day or this game will turn very ugly very early. Indiana will have to bring multiple tacklers to the ball carriers and try and force turnovers. There is no question that the Buckeyes will put up some yards and points Saturday, but the Hoosiers must make them earn their way to the end zone. That is one thing the Hoosiers were decent at last week, holding the Badgers to three field goals. If this defense can hold Ohio State to a couple field goals instead of touchdowns, the Hoosier offense should be able to take advantage and out score the Buckeyes.
2. Create Favorable Situations- When Wisconsin was faced with making a third down conversion they only were successful 30% of the time. The down side is that the Badgers did not get to third down often. Indiana must force Ohio State into third and long situations if they want to have any shot at pulling the upset. The defense has played well in spurts but can never put together a complete performance. Taking it one play at a time and winning each play will help this defense limit the damage that Ohio State’s offense can do.
3. Out Hustle The Buckeyes- There is no reason the Hoosiers should be out hustled by anyone. It takes no talent to hustle. While Indiana does lack elite talent on defense, they can out work and out hustle the Buckeyes, it’s just a matter of are they able to mentally handle it. There has been no lack in effort on defense for this team for most of this season. Indiana has to play as if their bowl hopes are on the line, which of course they are, and with the anger of a wounded animal. If they can play angry, lay a few big hits this could turn into a closer game than most people believe.
Doug Mallory, Indiana’s defensive coordinator, has almost certainly sealed his fate with the defense’s performance so far this year, but he can still leave his mark on the program by preparing this defense to play hard and get the two wins that are needed to go bowling. The expectations coming into this game are very low for the defense, so they need to play like they have nothing to lose and leave it all out on the field. If there are things he’s been holding back now is the time to let it out.