That bye week seemed to last forever. Well, it is finally game week again Hoosier Nation and the Hoosiers dive head first into Big Ten play when they face Penn State Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The last time out the Hoosier offense looked awful in a 45-28 loss to Missouri. Hopefully Kevin Wilson and his staff have worked out whatever kinks there were during the bye week. The Hoosiers will have to play a great game on offense to come out with their first ever victory over the Nittany Lions. So let’s get down to the keys to the game for the Hoosier offense.
1. Rhythm on Offense- Kevin Wilson’s offense is dependent upon having rhythm and moving the ball quickly. When this does not happen the entire foundation collapses and affects the every aspect of the game. The defense and special teams are not good enough for this offense to have 40 second drives that do not result in points. This is exactly what happened in the loss to Missouri and cannot happen again if the Hoosiers want to pull of the upset on Saturday. Indiana needs to get some early first downs and move the ball on short easy plays instead of trying for the big hitter for a score. I am not saying don’t take shots if they are there, just that the Hoosiers need to move the ball instead of a three and out that cripples the defense with poor field position.
2. Who is going to play quarterback?- Kevin Wilson is insistent on saying that there is no controversy with his quarterbacks and I agree. The controversy is over. It is time to pick one guy and stick with him through the whole game. I believe that guy should be Nate Sudfeld, even after his dreadful performance against the Tigers. Why Sudfeld? Well, because he is just an all around better quarter back than Tre Roberson. I know people will come back and say that Roberson brings the threat of the QB run, but the bottom line is he is not looking like the Tre Roberson we saw before his leg injury. Roberson is averaging a measly 3.8 yards a carry with a long of only 15 yards. In effect he has been shut down. The time has come to name a full time starter and ditch the two-quarterback system, as it has not shown to help this team. It just will not work in an offense like this, especially against a defense as good as Penn State.
3. Score First- The Hoosiers need to score first in order to win this game. While we have seen that this team can erase some deficits and come back on occasion, Indiana is just not built to fall behind early. When the Hoosiers fall behind early they have a knack for becoming one dimensional in the passing game. It is of utmost importance that the Hoosiers score early and as often as possible, whether it be a touchdown or a field goal (Yes field goals are still part of an offense in college football), and open up the offense to include a running game. By no means can the Hoosiers fall behind this team by a score or two and expect to comeback. It takes too much energy and reliance on a defense that has had trouble keeping opponents out of the end zone.
This is a winnable game for the Hoosiers and a chance to knock off a brand name for the first time in a very long time. The Hoosiers will need to be almost perfect on offense to pull it off. That means capitalizing on turnovers, fewer dropped passes, and establishing a run game. Indiana has a real shot to start 1-0 in the Big Ten, it just depends on if the offense comes out with a sense of urgency or not.