Breaking Down The Indiana Hoosiers
When people think University of Indiana athletics, they think of the school’s triumphs on the hardwood rather than the gridiron. Hoosier basketball is one of the most storied programs in all of college sports, identified by those iconic candy-striped warmups. For the duration of Indiana basketball’s successful reign, the football team played second fiddle — but this year at least, the times are changing.
With a relatively new coaching staff and Head Coach Kevin Wilson, the Hoosiers have been a team on the rise for a few years now. Under Wilson’s tutelage, the team has improved each year on the field and in the recruiting ring, and it’s starting to show for the Hoosiers. Currently the Hoosiers are 4-1 (0-1) due to their high powered offense. The only loss for the team comes from the No.1 Ohio State Buckeyes. Don’t be fooled though, the Hoosiers put up 27 points against a physical Buckeyes defense in a game that went down to the wire. The Hoosiers are coached extremely well and have a lethal offense that will look to put up points in a hurry in Beaver Stadium.
The Hoosiers have threats out at wide out, in the backfield, and even at the QB position. All three facets of their offense can put up points in a hurry. Last week against Ohio State, the Hoosiers lost their two stars Jordan Howard, the leading rusher in the Big Ten, and their impressive senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who has an NFL level arm and has already thrown for over 1,200 yards, seven touchdowns, and only one pick in five games. Despite losing the two early in the Ohio State game, the offense was still as potent as ever, and was able to excite the crowd with big plays. As of right now the depth chart lists both Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard to be the starters against the Nittany Lions but if they don’t start this doesn’t mean the defense can play complacently. The Indiana Hoosiers will find a way to put up points throughout, and will do so in a hurry if they need to. If Sudfeld isn’t taking snaps expect sophomore Zander Diamont to man the QB position Saturday. Diamont is an impressive backup and played at an extremely high level against the Buckeyes where he was able to display his leadership and playmaking ability like this:
The Hoosier offense is currently No. 18 in the nation and has talented receivers across the board, including Sammie Cobbs, Jr. and Ricky Jones, who each have caught passes for more than 30o yards this season. If the extremely talented UAB transfer RB Jordan Howard returns, which is possible, he will get multiple carries in Beaver Stadium and will look to light it up on the ground and build on his growing NFL resume. Also, the offensive line is a group of hard nosed guys. They have a mix of veterans and young guys but play physically, opening gaps for a strong run game as well as protecting their gunslinger Sudfeld in the backfield. The Hoosiers have one of their best teams in a long time, and the foundation is their high powered offense.
While the lethal Hoosier offense ranks in the top 20 nationally, the defense only breaks into the top 120. The team doesn’t have a single particular standout, and as a whole only has four players with over 15 tackles in five games, and ten players with double-digit tackles. The defense has posted five interceptions and 12 sacks in five games, but this has been against some sub-par opponents. The defense certainly isn’t just lifeless though. As a unit, it shows flashes of impressive play in pass rushing. In the end, the Hoosiers defense leaves much to be desired for their fans and coaching staff, as it is the last piece of the puzzle holding the Hoosiers back from the next level.
What the defense is lacking, the Indiana special teams unit makes up for. The concept of special teams is quite simple really. Kick the ball downfield in the opponent’s territory, but don’t kick it too hard or far, and the ball can’t land out of bounds or in the end zone. While the Nittany Lions are still trying to master this complicated concept, the Hoosiers have somehow cracked the formula and used it to their advantage like all other football teams, not just college ones, but high school and pee-wee teams too. The Hoosiers have a solid punting game and consistently get good punts off that land in decent or good field position. That is key for the Hoosiers and their lackluster defense. Not only is their punting consistent, but the Hoosiers have an outstanding kicking game. Griffin Oakes, the Hoosiers kicker, is nine-for-ten on field goals and 21/22 on extra points. His kicking game is extremely consistent and this kid will almost always put the ball between the uprights for the Hoosiers.
The Indiana Hoosiers football team has often been looked over because of its powerhouse basketball program, but this year the team boasts an impressive play style that focuses heavily on offense. The defense at times is lacking for the team, but can get stops against weak offenses (oh no). Indiana football plays off of a simple football fundamental. Score more points. The competent defense comes secondary to the impressive offense, but their special teams are consistent enough to pin enemies into tough situations at times. This may not be a rivalry game but it will surely be an interesting to see the situation play out in Beaver Stadium for Homecoming as the high powered offense and moderate defense of Indiana will take on the unpredictable offense and monster defense of Penn State.