Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
As the final Hoosier football game of October closes in, we are going to take a look at the keys for the Indiana offense to succeed up at the Big House against Michigan.
1. Better Quarterback Play- Nate Sudfeld looked like he was making his first road start of his college career last Saturday against Michigan State. The sophomore was only 14 of 30 throwing for 137 and no touchdowns, while Tre Roberson who was making his second appearance in East Lansing looked much more comfortable throwing for 2 scores and 122 yards on 11-17 passing. Roberson also gained 20 yards on the ground. It only gets tougher this week as the Hoosiers hit the road to face Michigan at the Big House. Indiana cannot afford to start off slow or have their quarterback rattled by the situation again. While Kevin Wilson has reiterated that Nate Sudfeld will probably start the game, I fully expect to see a big dose of Roberson Saturday afternoon. The Hoosiers’ offense also needs more explosive plays from the passing game as well. The long pass play against the Spartans was in large part to a great run after the catch from Shane Wynn. Both QBs had trouble completing the long ball last week, but must make that more of a weapon this week in order to pull off the upset. Indiana also has to get a better completion percentage out of their quarterbacks, 53.2% will not cut it for the Hoosiers this week.
2. Limit Penalties- The Hoosiers were denied a chance at extending their lead early in the game due to a chop block by Jake Reed on a long run from Tevin Coleman that would have put Indiana down inside the MSU 20. Who knows if having a two score lead would have changed the ultimate outcome, but the Hoosiers left some points on the field. Overall, Indiana was called for seven penalties totaling 65 yards, many of them coming on the same drive. The Hoosiers have to stop shooting themselves in the foot on offense with holding and pre-snap penalties. Getting behind the chains has been the only thing that really stalls this offense.
3. Establish a Running Game- The Hoosiers are 3-0 when they out rush an opponent in 2013. Indiana did not have much success running the ball against the Spartans aside from Tevin Coleman’s 64-yard score, and Michigan is 9th in the NCAA is rush defense giving up only 89.5 yards per contest. The Hoosiers don’t have a tradition run first to loosen up the defense for the pass, in fact they have to do the opposite and use the passing game to set up the run. Hitting some big throws should relax the defense a bit and allow the Hoosiers to run Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston successfully. Flourishing on the ground allows the offense to control the clock a little bit more and keep the defense, which plays well when rested, off the field. It will be a tough challenge for Indiana, but if they can make a few plays through the air the running backs should have some room to make some plays.
Indiana has had about as little success as you could have without going winless against the Wolverines since 1967, winning only once, and the Hoosiers came close the last time they travelled to Ann Arbor in the infamous “Bill Lynch’s Gum” game, but this is not a great Michigan team and they have had problems all year putting away lesser opponents. Indiana will be the best offense they have faced all year and the Hoosiers will put up some points, however it comes down to the Hoosiers being able to handle the situation and not being overwhelmed by 110,000 fans dressed in Maize and Blue.