Indiana Hoosiers vs. Southern Illinois Salukis Game Primer

 Nate Sudfeld leads the Hoosiers against the Salukis in the opener on Saturday.  Image: USAToday Sports

Nate Sudfeld leads the Hoosiers against the Salukis in the opener on Saturday. Image: USAToday Sports

Week 1 Primer

What: IU vs. Southern Illinois

When: Saturday, September 5 at 4:00 PM

Where: Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN

How to Watch: The game will be broadcast live on ESPNews and on the WatchESPN app. You can also listen to the IU radio broadcast on the IU Radio Network

Gameday Events: The IU freshmen class will be able to run onto the field. To participate, check-in at the Memorial Stadium practice field gates at 3 pm. Hoosier Village will open at 1 pm with band “Haywire” performing on the main stage and an IU football schedule keychain will be given away while supplies last in the Knothole Park area.

A Few Things to Look For

Nate Sudfeld is back, can he get into rhythm with his wide receivers?
As we have covered extensively, Nate Sudfeld missed the second half of the 2014 season with a shoulder injury. In his absence, the passing game completely fell apart. However, it was inconsistent and a little off even before his injury. Injuries to J-Shun Harris and Isaac James and the ineligibility of Camion Patrick has thrown some uncertainty into the wide receiver position and it will be extremely interesting to see how the relationship between Sudfeld and his receivers has developed this offseason. Big things are expected from Simmie Cobbs and he’ll start on the outside. Ricky Jones and true freshmen Nick Westbrook and Leon Thornton are expected to join him in the rotation while Mitchell Paige is going to get the first crack in the slot. One of the strengths for the Salukis is the safety position so IU’s young passing game will get a decent test on Saturday.

Is the young and inexperienced secondary ready?
Antonio Allen is gone. Tim Bennett and Michael Hunter Jr. are gone. Chase Dutra is the only returning starter from a unit that struggled for most of the 2014 season. IU has games against powerful aerial attacks like Western Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State so concerns about the secondary are very legitimate. Tony Fields has been dubbed the starter at safety next to Chase Dutra while Rashard Fant and Noel Padmore will be starting at corner. SIU returns experienced quarterback Mark Iannotti but they don’t have a ton of pass-catching weapons so IU should be able to keep the Salukis passing game fairly well contained. If SIU is moving the ball consistently through the air, it could be a harbinger of doom to come for the Hoosiers.

Life without Tevin Coleman…
Tevin Coleman was a once-in-a-generation talent that is now with the Atlanta Falcons. His explosive plays are impossible to replace but the Hoosiers do believe they have some good options at running back and Saturday will be our first chance to see a couple of them. Jordan Howard transferred from UAB after a terrific two years for the Blazers. He’ll team up with Devine Redding and third running back/kick returner Ricky Brookins to provide the running attack for IU. The offensive line should be one of the best in B1G and IU’s coaches seem confident they’ll be able to run the ball successfully, despite the absence of Coleman. SIU returns three starters along the defensive line and Southern Illinois beat writer Todd Hefferman told our Sammy Jacobs that the D-Line was a strength for this Salukis squad. I’m looking to see how well IU can consistently impose their will in the running game and I hope to see a yards per carry average of more than 5 yards when the day is complete.

Related Links:

Hoosier Huddle Pre-Game Show

Q&A With SIU Writer Todd Hefferman

Know Your Opponent: Southern Illinois

Offensive Keys to Victory

Defensive Keys To Victory

Traffic Update