Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
After two long weeks Hoosier football is finally back! The Indiana Hoosier defense has their work cut out for them Saturday afternoon when they face-off against Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State Offense. The Hoosiers can win this game with out having to play a perfect game defensively. However, there are certain keys to this game defensively that Indiana will need to attain to get that elusive W against the Nittany Lions.
1. Force Early Turnovers- The Hoosier defense did a very good job creating takeaways early on in their game against Missouri, forcing two interceptions and a fumble in the first half. Any time that this defense spends time on the sidelines should be considered a win for the team. Christian Hackenberg is a very good freshman quarterback, but he is still a freshman playing on the road in a Big Ten Game for the first time. He has made some mistakes and the Hoosiers have had an extra week to prepare for this offense, so it is up to the defense to make some noise early in this game.
2. Pressure Hackenberg- As stated above Christian Hackenberg is making only his fourth career start. The Hoosiers have not shown a great pass rush this season, but they have not been totally shut down either. Hackenberg is less mobile than James Franklin and therefore should be an easier target for this defensive line. Putting pressure on the young QB may cause him to rush his throws and make a critical mistake that turns the tide in favor of Indiana.
3. Get off the field as soon as possible- The more time the Indiana defense spends on the sideline the better. The defense played well enough to win two weeks ago but ran out of gas. The Hoosiers do not have the depth to run subs in and out all game, so it is imperative that when the defense faces a third and long situation that they come through. Penn State’s offense has a solid running game to go along with the duo of Allen Robinson and Hackenberg through the air, so the defense can’t just key on one aspect of their offense. The more the Hoosiers get off the field early the better they should look down the stretch.
Indiana has a tall task ahead of them. Having never beaten Penn State (0-16 all-time) cannot get in their heads. This game is between two teams playing in 2013. This is not a match-up of the 2005 Nittany Lions and the 2003 Hoosiers. It would be a big feather in the cap for Coach Kevin Wilson to score his first victory against one of the big boys.