Hoosiers Spotlight: Stopping Tevin Coleman
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Well, we’ll get to find out when the stout Nittany Lion defense matches up against Indiana’s star running back Tevin Coleman this Saturday in Bloomington.
If the Big Ten has anything to showcase this season, it would be the remarkable play of its running backs, most notably Coleman, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, all of whom rank among the top ten in rushing nationally.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Coleman leads all rushers in the Big Ten, while ranking third nationally with 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. What’s more impressive is Coleman has only totaled 162 rushing attempts — yes, that means he averages over eight yards (!!) per touch. To put that in perspective, Pitt’s James Connor, the nation’s leading rusher, has only gained 42 more yards than Coleman, yet has carried the ball 58 more times.
Not only does Coleman find ways to make something out of nothing, but he possesses the innate ability to break off big runs and poses a threat to score from virtually anywhere.
In his weekly press conference, James Franklin compared Coleman to legendary Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden, and it’s apparent why. Both players run with an upright stance, charging with vigor and intensity as they hit the hole. Coleman possesses another gear that allows him to blow past the second level of defense once he hits the hole, allowing him to record monstrous runs, like this one from last year’s contest against Michigan State:
Another dangerous trait Coleman possesses is immense strength. He utilizes this when running north-south, bowling over would-be tacklers as he charges through the hole. His perfect blend of brute strength and nimbleness in close quarters makes him very tough to bring down.
While Coleman may be one of the best players Penn State will have to face all year, our team boasts the top-ranked rushing defense in the country. Through eight games, Mike Hull and the Nittany Lions have allowed only 617 yards on the ground, while holding opponents to a modest 77.1 rushing yards per game, the lowest such total in the nation.
Despite the myriad of offensive woes plaguing Penn State, its staunch defensive unit has been the lone bright spot. The Hoosiers will throw everything but the kitchen sink at this Penn State defense, which ranks ninth nationally in points against. This will undoubtedly be the team’s toughest challenge since facing Wisconsin’s Gordon in the final game of the 2013 season. The Nittany Lions kept Gordon, who amassed 91 yards on 13 carries, relatively in check.
This year’s matchup with the Hoosiers will be much different than last season’s double-digit loss. Gone is Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, who put up 72 catches for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013, while also capturing team MVP honors. The Hoosiers have also lost quarterback Nate Sudfeld — the same quarterback who gashed Penn State for 321 yards and two touchdowns last year — for the season with a shoulder injury. This leaves Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson without two of his top offensive playmakers, meaning the Nittany Lion defense is sure to see plenty of Coleman. The Hoosiers will undoubtedly utilize the ground game in what should be a run-oriented attack.
This matchup between a top-ranked front seven and an elite running back will be the one to watch on Saturday, and the winner will most likely determine the outcome of the game.