It Starts on First and Second Down, Getting the Panthers Off Schedule

 The Hoosiers celebrate their close victory over the Salukis last Saturday. If IU is to come out victorious this weekend against FIU, they'll need to fare better on first and second down. Photo Credit - Cam Koenig HoosierHuddle.com

The Hoosiers celebrate their close victory over the Salukis last Saturday. If IU is to come out victorious this weekend against FIU, they'll need to fare better on first and second down. Photo Credit - Cam Koenig HoosierHuddle.com

Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)

Kevin Wilson and every other football coach talks about getting their opponent off schedule on offense. Why is this so critical for defensive success and how can it be leveraged into getting your offense back on the field more quickly? Well if you have watched a lot of football, and I’m assuming you have, otherwise I doubt you would be here reading this story in the first place, you know that a team’s success rate is largely a product of how well their defense does of getting off the field, and I’m not talking about giving up a touchdown.

However, as pointed out by Coach Wilson during his weekly press conference, it really starts on first and second down, stopping your opponents for short gains and forcing them into third and mediums and even third and longs.

The Hoosiers rarely slowed down the Salukis offense last Saturday, and when they had a chance to get them off the field on third down, they succeeded only 6 of 17 times. Not a great conversion rate. However, diving deeper in the numbers you’ll find that the team fared much better on third and long than on third and short. Again, not an earth shattering fact, but how much better is the question?

On third and short, which I’m defining as 2 yards or less, the Hoosiers only stopped the Salukis on one of six attempts. All six of the Salukis third down attempts came on the ground, converting five, one of which was for a touchdown.

On third and medium, or anything between 3 and 6 yards, the Hoosiers halted the Salukis on two of five attempts, an increase of 23 percent over how they fared defending third and short.  

Finally the Hoosiers stopped the Salukis three of five times, or sixty percent, on third and long. On all five attempts the Salukis dropped back to pass, getting sacked once and completing four pass attempts. However, only two were long enough for a first down.

So what does all of this mean going into this weekend’s game? Well, the Hoosiers need to do a better job of getting their opponents off schedule on first and second down, as FIU converted on 7 of 15 third down attempts last week.

But how are the Hoosiers going to get the Panthers off schedule? Well I’ve been saying it all off season, but they need to be much more disruptive in the backfield. Last week they recorded just two tackles-for-loss and a single sack.

There’s little doubt that the Hoosiers defense needs to be markedly improved this week, and while third down is always a measuring stick, what happens on first and second down plays massive role on the defense’s ability to get off the field. .

Nonetheless, Hoosier fans need to hear Rich Gang’s Tap Out considerably more this week if the Cream and Crimson are going to come out victorious.