Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
How was that for some opening night fireworks? The Hoosiers covered all the bases both good and bad. There was a running game and an aerial attack that could not be stopped. There was also a defense that forced two turnovers. However there were bad penalties, stupid turnovers, and missed tackles. The Hoosiers set records for the most points scored at Memorial Stadium by any team, returned their first punt for a touchdown since 2006, and scored more points in the first half since 1949. Overall it was a fun night, but there are still many aspects that need to be cleaned up.
Opponent: Indiana State Sycamores
Location: Thursday August 29th /7pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, Indiana)
Why They Played: Indiana and Indiana State is a nice in state game for both teams. Last year showed that this game isn’t as much of a lock for the Hoosiers as we thought and it gives IU a cheap FCS opponent at home. Indiana State also brings a nice crowd to the Rock, even though Indiana should not be counting on an FCS team to boost attendance.
What The Game Meant:
Opening night is always a big deal no matter the level of competition. With the buzz surrounding the Hoosier football team this offseason it was vital that Indiana start the season with a convincing victory. Indiana also made a statement by wearing their new state flag helmets, showing Indiana State that the Hoosiers are the best team in the Hoosier state.
Top Offensive Performers:
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana- During most of the summer the word surrounding Indiana football was that Tevin Coleman was going to be a force at running back taking over the starting position from Stephen Houston. The sophomore proved the rumors correct as he ran free all night gaining 169 yards on a mere 14 carries and two touchdowns. Coleman showed the toughness and speed that is necessary to be a number one back in the Big Ten.
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana – The true sophomore played the majority of the game after taking over for Tre Roberson. Sudfeld threw for 219 yards and four touchdowns, however he also threw an awful pick six to start the second half. He definitely put his stamp on the race to be the starting quarterback after a very solid performance. Sudfeld, aside for the one interception, made the right decisions for most of the game and looked in control of the offense.
Shakir Bell, RB, Indiana State- The scat back did not have quite the stellar game he had in 2012, but Bell still had 113 yards before leaving the game with a shoulder injury late in the second quarter. Bell had several nice runs where he made the IU defense look as if they were on ice skates.
Top Defensive Performers
TJ Simmons, LB, Indiana- The true freshman looks and plays like a linebacker who belongs on the field in the Big Ten. The Florida native recorded 9 total tackles and was all over the field.
Connor Underwood, LB, Indiana State- Connor put a scare into the Hoosiers taking the first play of the second half to the house for a pick 6. He also added four tackles, one being for a loss of yardage.
Special Team Performance:
Special teams had some really great moments while also having some plays where fans wanted to bang their head against the wall. Let’s start with the good. Shane Wynn recorded the first Hoosier punt return since 2006 when Tracey Porter took one the distance against Western Michigan. Wynn made several defenders miss and then just simply outran the Sycamores to the end zone, but whatever mojo the special teams had from that play it lost when freshman Laray Smith made the mistake of trying to do too much on a kick return right before the half and fumbled the ball that was recovered in the end zone for a Sycamore touchdown. Mitch Ewald looked solid, even though he only kicked one field goal, as he connected on all ten extra points. Erich Toth had a punt downed inside of the one-yard line as Kofi Hughes made a fantastic play to down the ball before it bounced over the goal line. In spite of this, Toth did not have a great night averaging 37.7 yards on three punts.
Coming into the night we said that one of the goals the Hoosiers should have is to be improved in their red zone efficiency when it came to scoring touchdowns. The Hoosiers entered the red zone seven times last night and came away with five touchdowns. The two missed opportunities came when Indiana settled for a 26-yard field goal and then when Kevin Wilson decided not to go for 80 points and took a knee.
The game started to turn when the Indiana defense came up with nine straight stops of Indiana State between the first and second quarters as the Hoosiers built up a 45-7 lead which the Sycamores could not recover.
I Knew it was over when…
After a brief scare when Indiana State rattled off 21 straight points, the Hoosiers settled down and when Sudfeld hit Wynn in the end zone from three yards out the game was in hand.
Players of the Game
Indiana– Tevin Coleman, Running Back- It looks as if the Hoosiers have found their man at running back. Coleman ran all over the mismatched Sycamore defense.
Indiana State- Shakir Bell , Running Back- It is a shame that the dynamic back was knocked out of the game right before half, because he was having another great game against the Hoosiers.
What I took away from the game
While beating a team 73-35 should be a cause for overreaction that is exactly what I am not going to do. This Hoosier team could have hung 100 on Indiana State if they really wanted to. There were some very good things to take away from the victory. First of all Tevin Coleman was a power at tailback running for 169 yards, but its hard not to be discouraged with the performance of senior Stephen Houston who finished with just nine yards on eight carries. Secondly, the young defensive players made impact plays. Darius Latham and Antonio Allen both came up with huge defensive plays to stop Sycamore drives. On the other hand, the defense missed a lot of tackles. Of course there will be some rust and it was great that Indiana got to play a ton of players last night, but there are spots that need to cleaned up before Navy. Another aspect of the game that stood out was the amount of dumb penalties the Hoosiers took last night, as Jake Reed was ejected for throwing a punch and a kick off return was called back because two players who were wearing the same number were on the field at the same time. In regard to the quarterback competition, this thing is wide open and not because one guy struggled but because all three can play. Even though Cam Coffman did not have a good game, he has built up enough good will to deserve a shot at starting. If Indiana’s defense can make stops this offense will score, even while rotating between quarterbacks. There will not be a clear number one before the Navy game and it looks like this could end up being a true two quarterback system.