Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
What: IU at Wake Forest
When: Saturday, September 26 at 12:30 PM
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
How to Watch: The game is on the ACC Network or ESPN3. In the Indianapolis market, the game is being carried by WNDY-23.
Gameday Events: We sought out the advice of a friend of the site that attended Wake Forest to find out which places were “must visits” in Winston-Salem. Here were his suggestions:
-Go to Putters (located across the street from the stadium). Website is putterspatioandgrill.com.
-Take a walk on campus, make sure to visit Benson Hall.
-Go to Shorty’s (on White Street) and, if you are of age, get a “Red Oak” beer (in his words, “the best beer I’ve ever had”).
A Few Things to Look For
1. Will Wake Forest be playing two quarterbacks?
Starting quarterback John Wolford sustained an injury early in the Demon Deacons week three game at Army. True freshman Kendall Hinton came in and used his legs to help Wake Forest to a 17-14 win on the road. Wolford is expected to be ready to go on Saturday but it’s reasonable to wonder whether or not he’s 100%. In the past, IU has struggled against running quarterbacks (SIU’s Mark Iannotti burned the Hoosiers) and Hinton gained more than 100 yards on the ground in his debut. Could the Demon Deacons use the versatility of Hinton in certain situations and try to keep IU’s defense off-balance? I think Wolford will get the start and see the majority of the snaps but I expect to see Hinton used for 5-10 carries and a couple of throws during the game.
2. Strength vs. Strength
Nate Sudfeld is currently the top-rated passer in the B1G, Ricky Jones is second in the B1G in receiving yards and Jordan Howard leads the nation in rushing yards. Overall, IU’s offense ranks 12th in the country in total offense. Meanwhile, the Wake Forest defense is 6th in the country in total defense. Wake Forest held Elon to 151 total yards, Syracuse to 370 yards (in a 30-17 defeat) and Army to only 240 yards. Wake Forest is going to provide a staunch test for the Hoosiers offense, particularly when you consider this is IU’s first road game. Can Jordan Howard continue to churn out 150+ yard games? Can Nate Sudfeld continue to produce with Ricky Jones, Mitchell Paige, Simmie Cobbs and his tight ends as IU hits the road?
3. Starting Well
IU has been pretty impressive in the third quarter of games thus far. They outscored SIU 17-0, outscored FIU 6-0 (and then 17-8 in the fourth quarter) and hammered Western Kentucky 21-0. Those strong third quarters were necessary because the Hoosiers struggled in the first half. There’s no doubt that good adjustments are being made at halftime and the coaching staff and players deserve credit for that. However, IU cannot continue to dig themselves into deficits with lackluster first halves. They’ve been able to do just enough to get to 3-0 but at some point, the second half magic is going to run out.
4. Continued Growth of Defense
The defense has made some huge plays to turn games around. Jameel Cook’s pick six, a forced fumble Nick Mangieri and a pair of crucial interceptions by Jon Crawford particularly stand out. However, the Hoosiers have still given up nearly 35 points per game and there are still plenty of questions about whether or not this defense is good enough to return the Hoosiers to the postseason. Wake Forest has an inexperienced offensive line that IU’s defense must take advantage of. IU needs to get into the backfield to disrupt running plays and to pressure the quarterback. They also need to make sure they tackle in the secondary. Don’t let 10-yard completions turn into 40-yard completions because of poor tackling or positioning. Saturday represents a chance for the IU defense to show more growth. If they can play like they did in the second half against Western Kentucky’s awesome offense, the Hoosiers will feel good about their chances.
A reminder: back in June, Kevin Wilson spoke at an alumni event and talked about Wake Forest. Here’s what he had to say: “I’m a Southern Baptist, but I don’t like the (Wake Forest) Deacons. We’re going to kick their ass.” Again, the line was made at an alumni event and it wasn’t intended to rile anyone up or be taken seriously but you can bet Wake Forest will be using it as “bulletin board” material. I have no problem with a coach firing up fans and I enjoy seeing some personality from coaches. Here’s to hoping Wilson’s comments in June end up being accurate. A victory would give the Hoosiers their first 4-0 start since 1990!