As Good As the Passing Game Is, IU Needs to Run The Ball

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

The Hoosiers enter their open week at 4-4, winless in the conference, and riding a four-game losing streak. Indiana will have to go at least 2-2 over the last third of the season to reach that elusive six-win mark. The Hoosiers started the 2015 campaign with an extremely promising 4-0 start. Part of that success was due in part to the stellar play of quarterback Nate Sudfeld and the passing attack. However, if you go inside the numbers a little closer you can see the difference in the four game win streak and the four game losing streak is how the Hoosiers run the ball and control the clock.

The Hoosiers opened the season with wins against Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky, and Wake Forest. In those four wins the Hoosiers carried the ball an average of 51.25 times for 236.5 yards per game while throwing the ball just 31.5 times for 285.8 yards per game. In the four Big Ten losses IU has become one-dimensional by throwing the ball too much. In a statistical oddity, in their losses, the Hoosiers actually lead the conference in passing yards per game (288.3), are sixth in attempts per game (37), and first in yards per attempt (7.8). In losses the Hoosiers have run just 124.75 yards per game. 

pie-chart test | amCharts

The time of possession, which was a major issue in the loss at Michigan State, is also skewed in IU victories and defeats. In wins IU holds possession of the ball for 32 minutes, which isn't anything to write home about, but the nature of this offense is not to sit on the ball and hold it. However, in losses IU only possesses the ball for 26:09. 

This is the formula for success for the Hoosiers. Run the ball and keep the chains moving, while keeping the defense honest with Nate Sudfeld's passing attack. IU does not need to be reliant on the home run drives, but they cannot just change the nature of their offense. 

Running the ball more allows them to control the clock better and keep their beleaguered defense on the sideline. Some of the losing streak can be contributed to the injury to running back Jordan Howard, but he should be 100 percent after the break and ready to give the Hoosiers a dimension they have been missing since that damp late-September afternoon in North Carolina.