Know Your Enemy: Indiana Hoosiers
Mizzou [2-0 / AP: NR / Coaches: NR] vs. Indiana [2-1 / AP: NR / Coaches: NR]
Sat., Sept. 21, 7 p.m. | TV: Big Ten Network | Memorial Stadium (Bloomington, IN)
Series History: Indiana leads 6-2-2 (Last meeting: 1992)
On Dec. 1, 2001, Missouri lost by 48 points (55-7) to Michigan State. The loss capped off the program’s third consecutive losing season and still stands as Gary Pinkel’s worst defeat at the helm of the Tigers.
“MSU played an exceptional game. I was very disappointed in our performance,” Pinkel, who was in his first year at MU, said after the game. “We got outcoached, outplayed and out every-thinged in that game.”
For the first time since that 2001 beat down, Mizzou will take on a team (other than Illinois) from the Big Ten in a regular season matchup when it travels to Bloomington to open-up a home-and-home series with Indiana.
“It is obviously a big game for us,” Pinkel said. “Playing a Big Ten team and they will be a challenge for us. We are excited about it, and we will work really hard and hopefully play our best.”
It should be noted that current-Indiana coach Kevin Wilson was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma from 2006-2010, meaning the last time Missouri saw him on the opposing sidelines, this happened:
While Missouri rested, Indiana successfully defended its home turf, knocking off Bowling Green 42-10. In his first career start, quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 335 yards and a pair of scores. His favorite target on the afternoon, Cody Latimer, caught six passes for a career-high 137 yards and a score. The Hoosiers’ ground game was working as well—Stephen Houston and Tevin Coleman racked up 162 and 131 rushing yards, respectively.
IU’s defense bent (allowed 409 yards of total offense), but didn’t break (allowed just three points; limited BGSU to just 8-20 on third down, 2-6 on fourth down).
“Defensively, I think we did show some improvement, which is good to see,” Wilson said. “[We have] a lot of young guys playing, but there is a lot to work on there just for communication, alignment, just executing our schemes, our fundamentals, getting off blocks, tackling…We have some experience, but there is a lot of important positions with those linebackers, safeties, and some of those kids up front that are freshmen.”
With the victory, the Hoosiers improved to 2-1 on the season. They allowed over 500 yards of total offense against Navy en route to a 41-35 loss in week two.
Indiana in a Nutshell
Much like Toledo, the Hoosiers attempt to mask their defensive deficiencies with a fast-paced, no-huddle offense that is capable of shredding an opposing defense both on the ground and through the air. They return almost all their starters on offense from last season, including four 1,000-yard career receivers (Shane Wynn reached that plateau versus Bowling Green).
Indiana’s receiving corps is one of the best in the B1G and its running back duo has proven to be extremely effective this season. However, the starting quarterback job remains in flux. Despite Sudfeld’s performance on Saturday against Bowling Green, he and Tre Roberson are listed as co-starters. Cameron Coffman, former Tiger tight end Chase Coffman’s brother, is listed as third.
The Hoosiers’ offensive line entered the season as one of the best in the Big Ten (led conference with one sack every 31.8 pass attempts), but the injury bug has hit it hard this season. Starting right guard Dan Feeney, a freshman All-American last season, suffered a season-ending foot injury in late August—he started in 12 games last season and did not allow a sack in 935 snaps. One of his replacements, redshirt-sophomore Jake Reed, the backup center entering the season, has been shifted to left guard for Bernard Taylor, who is dealing with an ankle injury (Wilson said he is questionable for Saturday’s game). Right tackle Paul Eckert’s status for Saturday’s game remains unknown—he has already missed the first three games of the season.
Indiana has struggled mightily on defense this season (allowed 76 points through first two games), but showed at least a small flicker of life against Bowling Green, holding the Falcons without an offensive touchdown and forcing four turnover-on-downs. However, they allowed over 409 yards of total offense and Wilson admitted he was caught between a rock and a hard place with his defensive schemes.
“That’s a hard job because if we really try to protect their wide receivers mathematically we have a hard time being able to hold up the run game,” he explained. “It looked like they were trying to pick on Mike [Hunter] early on but he settled down. Some of the teams we see in conference are going to try to run the ball strong and we are going to have to pack the middle, leaving the corners one-on-one.”
Three HOOSIERS to Watch
QB Nate Sudfeld
The depth chart reads “Sudfeld –OR—Roberson,” but Sudfeld has been and probably will continue to get the majority of the reps. He’s a traditional pocket passer who’s extremely accurate and has the ability to air it out a bit (he showed off his arm strength on a few plays against Bowling Green).
RBs Tevin Coleman, Stephen Houston
Speed is the name of the game for Indiana out of the backfield. With an emphasis on hitting the hole as quickly as possible and blowing past defenders rather than trying to out-maneuver them, Coleman and (more recently) Houston, have emerged as legitimate big-play threats.
Coleman, a sophomore out of Illinois, has shouldered the majority of the workload thus far, carrying the ball 41 times for 332 yards and five scores. Houston, his senior counterpart, had a big day against Bowling Green, picking up 155 yards on the ground, including a 60-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
DE Nick Mangieri
Mangieri has been one of the few bright spots for Indiana on defense. He stuffed the stat sheet against Bowling Green recording a sack, an interception, a pass breakup and four tackles. He has 2.5 sacks on the season, second most in the Big Ten. Considering Mizzou’s struggles along the offensive line, Mangieri is absolutely a player to keep an eye on whenever Franklin and co. take the field on Saturday.
Matchup to Watch
- I don’t think there’s any question that this thing will be a high-scoring affair. Neither defense has been overly impressive this season, while their offensive counterparts have had no problems whatsoever putting points up on the board.
- This game will be won or lost in the trenches. Both offensive lines looked suspect their last time out (Indiana, utilizing three linemen who didn’t begin the preseason on the first unit, allowed four sacks, while Mizzou struggled mightily against Toledo’s four-man front). Fortunately for the visitors, Franklin has the speed and awareness to get out of the pocket and avoid the rush when necessary (he did a good job, for the most part, of getting out of bounds to avoid the hit against the Rockets and must continue to do so, even against a team like IU). The Hoosiers will not have the same luxury—at least when Nate Sudfeld is under center. Tre Roberson, however, can beat you with his legs. If Mizzou’s defensive line is able to bust through early and often against Sudfeld, it will be interesting to see if Roberson starts to see more reps.
- For Mizzou, establishing the ground game early should blow the passing game wide open. Indiana’s defensive backs aren’t very good in one-on-one coverage. Like the St. Louis Rams and the no-huddle, I believe the move here is to run a steady diet of draw plays (with a few options mixed in) to draw the IU defense toward the middle of the field, leaving their cornerbacks on an island outside.
The Hoosiers have the firepower to hang with the Tigers, which should make for an entertaining football game. Lot’s of points from both sides early on, but I expect Mizzou’s defense to settle in during the second half, allowing the Tigers to pull away. Mizzou 38 Indiana 28Brian Haenchen founded Hank’s Sports Blog in 2009. You can follow him on Twitter (@Brian_Haenchen) or email him (email@example.com).