Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
On Saturday the Indiana Hoosiers will try and do something they have not done since 2004 when they travel to Missouri to face the Tigers, and that is beat a ranked team on the road. Missouri is the defending SEC champion and have started the 2014 season 3-0 with wins over South Dakota State, Toledo, and Central Florida. The Hoosiers will go into the game as two touchdown underdogs, but the Tigers are not unbeatable. Here are the three keys to victory on offense for the Hoosiers
1. Protect the Ball at All Costs- The Hoosiers have had issues with protecting the ball over the first two games, as they have lost the pigskin three times. Last week’s game changed when Tevin Coleman fumbled as the Hoosiers were looking to go up two scores. Missouri has a very opportunistic defense that feeds off of turnovers. The Tigers have forced at least one turnover in their last 47 games. The last game without forcing a turnover was against Nebraska in 2010. Indiana will need to hold onto the ball and not give the high-powered Tiger offense a short field or more opportunities to put points on the board. With a 55 percent chance of rain, Nate Sudfeld and all the Hoosier ball handlers will have to take extra care when being tackled.
2. Keep Sudfeld Clean- Last year’s matchup between the Hoosiers and Tigers saw Nate Sudfeld throw three interceptions, one of which was a pick six right before half time that changed the game. While Sudfeld was not sacked in the 2013 game, he certainly was pressured enough to make poor throws. The Tigers once again have a very talented defensive line, and the Hoosiers cannot replace Sudfeld with Roberson anymore. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that the offensive line keep their quarterback upright. Sudfeld is coming off a very impressive performance last week, and if given time in the pocket should be able to pick apart this Tiger defense.
3. Cash in on Scoring Opportunities Early- Lost among the noise about the struggling defense was the fact that the Hoosiers left a ton of points on the field last week. On the season the Hoosiers are only five for eight in the red zone. The three failures have resulted in zero points. The Hoosiers had so many opportunities to stretch the lead last week and did not do so for one reason or another. This has to change for the Cream and Crimson to leave the Show Me State with a W. The offense needs to be more efficient and put the ball in the end zone when the defense gets a stop or a take away. Another area where the Hoosiers can improve is on their first drives to open each half. In four drives the Hoosiers have just seven points. Scoring early on the road is the best way to “announce your presence with authority” as Crash Davis once said.