Previewing The Enemy: Penn State vs. Indiana
By: David Abruzzese and Ethan Kasales
The Nittany Lions roll into Bloomington 7-2 ranked No. 10 in the country. It’s a season for the ages, but the only thing standing in the team’s way is a 5-4 Indiana Hoosiers squad with a potent offense and home field advantage. We break down Indiana ahead of today’s game.
The 5-4 Hoosiers come in as the last major test the Lions face this season (or so it seems), and JUCO transfer quarterback Richard Lagow, who leads the way with 2,574 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 61 percent of his passes. He’s the team’s gunslinger, and isn’t afraid to test the secondary deep throughout the game. What makes the Hoosiers unique is its utilization of agile quarterback Zander Diamont. Indiana employs a two-quarterback system where Diamont is featured as a change-of-pace runner who’s typically called upon to keep the ball — and it’s been effective thus far. What makes him so dangerous isn’t how often he’s used, but rather what he does when given the opportunity. With three rushing touchdowns on the season, Diamont sometimes only needs one glimpse of daylight to impact a game, and could certainly pose a similar threat against the Lions.
Devine Redding leads the team in the rushing category with 828 yards running behind star right guard Dan Feeney, who’s generating quite a bit of NFL buzz and is considered one of the nation’s top interior linemen ahead of this spring’s draft.
Nick Westbrook and Ricky Jones lead a talented group of Hoosier receivers with 708 and 681 yards respectively. At 6-foot-3, he’s a legitimate deep threat who Lagow will turn to early and often. Though the team’s record might not show it, Indiana possesses an offense capable of picking up significant chunks of yardage in a variety of ways. Penn State’s front seven will be tested with a number of different running styles being thrown its way, but with players like Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell playing some of their best football of the season, the Lions should take care of the Hoosiers on that side of the ball.
Indiana’s defense is piloted by junior linebacker Tegray Scales, who leads the Hoosiers with 85 total tackles. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native also paces the team with 11 tackles for loss. Defensive coordinator Tom Allen doesn’t have a dominant pass rusher to work with, per se, but he has received balanced numbers from a handful of guys.
Scales, Marcus Oliver, and Nile Sykes each pace the Hoosiers with three sacks apiece. Indiana boasts a stingy secondary highlighted by 17-year-old true freshman safety Marcelino Ball, who’s logged 65 tackles and a team-high two picks through nine games. Jonathan Crawford, Tony Fields, and Chase Dutra round out the productive bunch.
The Hoosiers will have their hands full trying to limit Saquon Barkley, allowing Penn State’s passing game to spread them out with some quick strikes. They’re giving up an average of 27 points per game, but the Nittany Lions shouldn’t have a problem surpassing that benchmark in Memorial Stadium.
Check out our third installment of Onward Takes, where David and Ethan touch briefly on last week’s impressive win over Iowa and what to expect in Bloomington.