Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
Well the two-week wait is finally over! Hopefully all of the Hoosier fans have enjoyed the homecoming festivities and are out tailgating on this chilly fall morning. The Hoosier defense is ready to hit the field to prove they have more in them than the effort put forth the last time out against Michigan. So grab a hot beverage and huddle up to the grill because here are the keys to victory for the Indiana defense.
1. Blitz, Blitz, and Blitz More- Why not right? The Hoosiers defense does not create enough pressure rushing only four down linemen, and actually have had some success blitzing. What is the worst that can happen? A receiver is open on a deep pass? The Gophers don’t have a prolific pass game as their quarterbacks combined for a completion percentage of 55 and a 1-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. TJ Simmons showed he has the skills and athleticism to run down quarterbacks last week and would be an ideal blitzer. Tim Bennett should learn from the bye week to not bite on the double move and should allow for the pressure to get to the Gopher quarterbacks.
2. Play 8 in the Box- Minnesota is going to try and run the ball down Indiana’s throat. The Hoosier coaching staff should know this and bring a safety up to help on run support. The worst that can happen is that a Gopher quarterback will throw the ball. If Indiana does play eight up to stop the run they must be sound tackling because one or two missed tackles could end up in six points for the boys from Minnesota. It will also put added pressure on the IU defensive backfield to play lockdown defense on the Gopher receivers.
3. Score on Defense- It’s something that Hoosier fans haven’t seen yet this season, and it would be a welcome site for a beleaguered unit. The Hoosiers have to control the pace of the game and force Minnesota to throw the ball. The best way to do that is to jump out to a sizable lead. An early pick-six or a scoop and score on a fumble could put this game out of reach early and force the Gophers to change their game plan.
The game plan for this defense should follow the formula created in the win over Penn State. Make plays early, let the offense get points on the board, and put the opponent away in the second half by forcing turnovers. Sure Indiana ranks last in the conference in most defensive statistics, but they have played well enough to win in some of the games. Coming off an open week the defense should be well rested and rearing to prove the doubters wrong. They need this game in the worst way and the Hoosiers must play with that desperation.