Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
The Hoosiers defense may have found something to build upon in the victory over Penn State last week. Holding the Nittany Lions to just 70 yards rushing was impressive, even if they lost 30 yards on a botched field goal snap. Indiana made Penn State one-dimensional and that will be the goal again versus the Spartans. While we get ready to watch the Hoosiers battle for the Old Brass Spittoon let’s take a look at the three keys for victory on defense.
1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers- This part of the game cannot be stressed enough, especially against an offense that does not score many points. Any time the Hoosiers defense can create a short field for their offense it’s a major victory. Connor Cook is coming off his “best” game of the season against Iowa. In reality, Cook is completing just over 54% of his passes with seven touchdowns and only one interception. While he has only thrown one interception, Cook’s accuracy is far from ideal and the Hoosiers need to take advantage of errant throws and grab interceptions when they can.
2. Make the Spartans One-Dimensional- Indiana needs to take away the Spartan run game like they did in the game against Penn State. It would be easier for the defense to accomplish this if the offense can get off to a fast start. Michigan State is missing a true feature back this year. Jeremy Langford leads the team in rushing with 311 yards and four touchdowns. Javon Ringer and Le’veon Bell are not running out of the tunnel to punish the Hoosier defense anymore. If the Hoosiers can make Maxwell throw the ball 30 or more times they should be in good shape.
3. Get off the field- That’s the formula every week. Keep this defense rested and they should be able to hold their own against this Spartan offense. The key to getting off the field is holding the Spartans to minimal yards on first and second down. Connor Cook does not put the fear into anyone just yet, so having him try and complete a long pass on third down is probably the best outcome for the Hoosiers.
The Indiana defense should match up well against an underwhelming Spartan offense, which bodes well for the Hoosiers’ chances if the offense can score over 30 points.