While we may be only three games into the season, it also happens to be the quarter mark of the 2013 slate. Isn’t it amazing how much quicker time flies when football is around?! Well, with that unfortunately being the case, we decided it was time to take a look back at the opening trio of games that the Hoosiers have played.
As opposed to doing a boring breakdown of each game, we decided to spice things up a bit and give a first quarter report card to each unit of the team. Today we are kicking things off with the offense, but don’t worry, we will be grading the defense, special teams, and even the coaches throughout the week. So stay tuned!
Breakdown: The season began with three different signal callers competing for the right to call themselves the starter. Last year’s starter by default, Cameron Coffman has seen minimal action. He attempted seven passes in the opener, completing just two of them. He has just one rushing attempt since then. Coffman, for all intents and purposes, has been relegated to clipboard duty. Last year’s opening day starter, Tre Roberson, has also attempted just seven passes, six of which also came in the opener against the Sycamores. He was the “starter” for the first two games, albeit that designation didn’t exactly come with much of a leash. It looks as if Roberson has been designated as a change of pace type of option who will be on the field for a handful of plays, giving opponents an added dimension to account for. While it took till week three, it looks as if the Hoosiers have officially found their starting quarterback, and that man is Nate Sudfeld. After essentially serving as a relief pitcher last year for Cam Coffman after Tre Roberson went down, he has been the most impressive of the group. He has also had the most opportunity. The sophomore has thrown 85 passes in the first three games completing over 70-percent of them. He has also tossed ten touchdown passes to just two interceptions, and sits in the top-11 nationally in basically every statistical category. While Sudfeld’s play has been exceptional for the most part, he did have the costly interception in the week two loss against Navy. In addition, I have to penalize the entire group due to the fact that no player made a strong enough case for himself during the offseason or fall camp, forcing the coaches to continue the three-way competition into the season.
First Quarter Grade: B+
Breakdown: This group is the most surprising of them all. Everyone knew that the Hoosiers had an explosive offense heading into the season, but the one question mark was the running game. Incumbent starter, Stephan Houston, was bumped off the top line in the depth chart during fall camp and hasn’t been able to move back up. To no fault of his own however, as the senior has rushed for 194 yards, while averaging nearly seven yards per carry. Instead, Tevin Coleman, who is running the ball better than anyone could have expected, has surpassed him. Through three games the sophomore from Illinois has rushed for 332 yards, five touchdowns and 8.1 yards per carry. All three of those are good enough to place Coleman in the top-15 nationally. While the running game might not be what you immediately think of when you discuss the Indiana offense, it has been just about as good as anyone in the conference, as Coleman has shown early that he has the ability to be as good as just about anyone in the nation.
First Quarter Grade: A
Wide Receivers/ Tight End:
Breakdown: We just broke down the most surprising unit, now we will take a look at the most underwhelming. Now don’t get me wrong, the receivers have not been bad whatsoever, they just have not lived up to the hype that they received entering 2013. Through three games Cody Latimer is the Hoosiers’ leading receiver. It’s a bit of good news bad news with the Ohioan. The bad news, he had just five receptions for 73 yards in the first two games. The good however, is that Latimer broke out for a career high 137-yards and his first touchdown of the year against Bowling Green. Senior Kofi Hughes has been the steadiest contributor among Indiana wideouts, scoring a touchdown in each of the first three games. Shane Wynn has been a disappointment so far in 2013. The diminutive speedster had a monster game week catching two touchdowns while taking another one to the house as a return man. Since then it has been lacking. He only has nine receptions on the season, and it looks as if he is clearly the third option at best in the passing game. I decided to lump the tight ends in with the receivers because honestly, the Hoosiers just don’t use enough tight ends to warrant their own section. That being said, Ted Bolser has had himself a nice start to his senior season. Teddy Touchdown as he is affectionately known, has become a true red zone threat. Expect that to magnify as he spends more time on the field, and further develops his relationship with Sudfeld. Bolser leads the team in receiving touchdowns, with four, well enough for the second most in the Big Ten. The depth that Indiana exhibits with its pass catchers is a double-edged sward. While no individual is able to truly shine due to the depth, it also prevents the opposing defense from singling out one specific player to lock in on. This is displayed by the fact that as a team the Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in receiving yards, average and touchdowns, while no receiver is in the top six as far as individual receiving yards are concerned.
First Quarter Grade: B+
Breakdown: This is an interesting one. First and foremost, there are little to no stats readily available for offensive line play. In addition, it is by far the hardest to define, as lets be honest, when watching football your eyes naturally travel with the ball. With that being said, Nate Sudfeld, who I think we can all say has essentially been the “main quarterback” through the first three games of the season has attempted 85 passes. He has only been sacked three times. They have also allowed the time and protection for Sudfeld to be the highest rated passer in the conference, and the seventh nationally. The big uglys have not just been doing it in the passing game, they have improved by leaps and bounds blocking for the run. After finishing 101st in the nation last year running the football, the Hoosiers are in the top-25 through three games in 2013. That is one impressive step forward, and it would not be possible without the contributions of the offensive line. Jason Spriggs and Peyton Eckert at the tackle spots have really taken their games to the next level. In addition Collin Rahrig, the old man of the group has looked like a veteran under center communicating with his line.
First Quarter Grade: A-
Breakdown: Let’s be honest here, this offense has been pretty outstanding over the first three games. As good as they were last season, 2013 has been even better. As far as total yards, the Hoosiers are third in the nation behind only the high-octane offenses of Oregon and Texas A&M. The Indiana attack is not one-dimensional either, as both the passing and rushing attacks are among the top-25 nationally as far as total yards are concerned. While yards are always fun, they do not show up on the scoreboard where they count, don’t worry though because the Hoosiers are holding their own in terms of points as well. The offense is averaging a clean 50 points per game, enough to be number seven nationally and the best in the Big Ten. When it comes to college football statistics, they can be skewed based on opponents, tempo and how the coaching staff manages the game. So I turned to Football Outsiders, who have an innovative statistic called the S&P+ ratings. Quite simply it the combination of success rates, points per play, drive efficiency and opponent adjustment. If you are interested and would like to know more you can read all about the Football Outsiders’ S&P+ Rating here. While not quite as gaudy as the basic raw stats above, the Hoosiers check in at 30th nationally in the S&P+ ratings. Ohio State (16), and Wisconsin (28) are the only two offenses in the Big Ten that are rated above Indiana’s. While it has been a successful first quarter for the Hoosier offense, there is still room to grow and improve which is why they are receiving an A- as opposed to an A for their overall grade.