Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
While most of Hoosier Nation is celebrating the start of the regular season for the Indiana basketball team, we here at Hoosier Huddle are just as excited for the penultimate home football game tomorrow as the Hoosiers take on the Illini. On paper the Hoosiers are big favorites, however they cannot just show up and expect to win this game, especially with another slow start on offense. So let’s dive into the three keys to an Indiana victory on offense.
1. Convert early red zone opportunities into touchdowns- Last week Indiana jumped out to an early 13-7 lead over the Gophers, however the Hoosiers left points on the field as they just could not put the ball across the goal line early. Instead of being a two score game, it was a mere six point Hoosier lead. Indiana needs to get out to a fast start and kill the will of this Illinois team early. All week we have pointed out Illinois’ conference losing streak, and there is nothing better weapon against a bad team then getting out to a large lead and sucking the life out of them. Indiana shouldn’t get reckless with their play calling and just go for it on every fourth and goal situation. They have to be smart and take the three if they have to, but the Hoosiers cannot miss open receivers in the end zone like they did last week.
2. Make the Hustle Plays- The Hoosiers are not a good enough team to not hustle and make the little plays on offense. Last week’s game ended on a play that should never have happened. If a ball is on the ground, someone has to jump on it. Illinois is not a good team, however Indiana cannot get outworked on offense. Dive for that extra yard, hold that block for one more second, and hang on to the ball just a little longer. This should be a game that Indiana wins by two scores and can make all Hoosier fans happy for one weekend.
3. Avoid the Offensive Droughts- All too often this season the Indiana offense has disappeared for chucks of the game at a time. Last week IU fell behind 35-13 after a span of 5 straight punts and halftime. Yes, the Hoosier offense can rattle off four straight scores and do it quickly, but this is a bad team they are playing the Hoosiers should have their way on offense. Putting together multiple scoring drives and avoiding multiple punts in a row will lead to a large margin of victory for Indiana, it will also keep a beleaguered defense on the sidelines.
There are no two ways around it. This is a game Indiana should win. Playing at home against an inferior conference opponent the Hoosiers simply have to win this game to have something to show for this season. Illinois will come in thinking that this may be their shot to end their losing streak, but the Hoosier offense has to crush any hope that the Fighting Illini have at pulling off the upset in Bloomington on Saturday.