Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Indiana Hoosiers travel to Virginia to take on the 1-0 Cavaliers. The Hoosiers are looking for their first win of 2017. Here are five keys to the Hoosiers leaving Charlottesville with their record even at 1-1.
Run the Ball
It has been talked about at length after the Hoosiers ran for just 17 yards against Ohio State. The Hoosiers cannot survive the year if they cannot establish a ground attack. Virginia allowed 168 rushing yards to FCS foe William and Mary and one should figure that Indiana’s running back by committee will have a better day on the ground.
Be able to run the ball does two things for IU. First, it will make the Virginia defense respect the run and not drop eight defenders into coverage. There is no magic number of yards the Hoosiers need to get in order to win, but IU has to consistently gain positive yards. Secondly, it keeps the clock moving and the defense rested on the sideline. Last week IU’s defense was gassed by the end of the third quarter.
Indiana lost the turnover battle 3-0 in the opener, which is disappointing as Tom Allen puts so much emphasis on his defense taking the ball away from opponents. The bigger issue was that defense wasn’t even close to creating a takeaway. Virginia’s quarterback Kurt Benkert was responsible with the ball last week, but the Hoosier secondary is much better than William and Mary. If IU can create three takeaways, this game shouldn’t be close.
Give Lagow Time to Throw
IU quarterback Richard Lagow threw for over 400 yards against Ohio State, but didn’t exactly have much time to do anything other than chuck the football up and duck. If the Hoosiers can block Virginia’s line better, Lagow should have ample time to scan the field and pick apart the defense. He doesn’t need another 400-plus yard performance for IU to win, but he needs to be efficient and continue to find his receivers for big plays.
Avoid the Letdown
The atmosphere surrounding last week’s opener was special and it is only natural that the energy heading into a road game against Virginia would be lower, but Indiana needs to bring their own energy and avoid a sleepy let down. This is a game the Hoosiers absolutely have to win to accomplish their goals for 2017 and they have to come out like it as well. Indiana is better than Virginia on paper and if they come out with similar purpose as they did against Ohio State, Indiana should be in for a big evening.
The Hoosiers played well against Ohio State, however they never extended the lead past two scores. Indiana needs to make these types of games two score games. Getting up 10 or 14 points would make a conservative Virginia offense take more risks.