Written by Nathan Comp
Indiana still finds themselves looking for two more wins with just three games remaining to gain bowl eligibility. We’ll take a look inside the numbers that may ultimately decide who arises victorious in this week’s game against Maryland.
While at times the Maryland offense has struggled (3 points combined against Michigan State and Iowa), the Terps have found much success when they enter the red zone. Maryland has scored on all 18 of their trips inside the red zone. 14 of these scores have been touchdowns, leaving only 4 to have come by way of a field goal. The Indiana defense will have to be strong early in drives to keep the Terrapins outside of the red zone. This will start with containing the run game, Maryland’s strength. A “bend, but do not break” defensive strategy will not prevail, as Maryland has proven they will put points on the scoreboard late in drives.
Speaking of Maryland’s strong rushing attack, here’s exactly how strong it has been: The Terrapins have scored 19 rushing touchdowns on the season. Better yet, these 19 scores have come in the hands of not just a couple players, but 8 different Maryland rushers. 16 different players have rushing attempts this season, making stopping the run game the number one priority for Indiana’s defense. A primary emphasis can be placed on running backs Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson, but the Indiana defense must be ready for motioning receivers and even quarterback Kasim Hill making plays with their legs.
Two numbers are included in this statistic merely because Maryland’s strong special teams warrants both. The 52 can be applied to freshman kicker Joseph Petrino’s total points scored this year. The walk-on kicker has yet to miss a PAT or a field goal this season and has proven to be a vital asset for Maryland’s special teams, an aspect of the game that Indiana has struggled with this season. Petrino made headlines on Twitter in September of 2017 after posting a video of himself making a 60-yard field goal with his right foot, and then walking up 10 yards and banging home a 50-yard field goal with his left foot. The 30 applies to the other member of the 4th down army, 30-year-old punter Wade Lees. Lees is clearly a veteran presence for the team and the Australian has done a great job of reversing the field for his team this season. His best game of the season came against Rutgers, in which he pinned 5 of his 6 punts inside the 20-yard line, including a 54-yarder that was pinned at Rutgers’ six.
While many Indiana fans will point to 4th quarter performance that ultimately dooms the Hoosiers, the play in the 3rd quarter cannot be overlooked. Indiana has been outscored by 35 points in the third quarter this season. This can often bleed into the 4th quarter struggles. The Indiana offense cannot come out of the halftime locker room sluggish if it wants to earn its 5th victory on Saturday. Evaluating what went right and wrong at halftime, and making the correct adjustments, will be key to Indiana’s success on Saturday. Digging itself a hole to big could lead to disappointment.