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Previewing The Enemy: Indiana Hoosiers

For the first time since the infamous Pylon Gate of 2020, Penn State football is back in Bloomington, Indiana.

The No. 15-ranked Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) will face off with the Hoosiers (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) after a deflating home loss to Ohio State. Indiana, on the other hand, is staying at home and will be extra fresh coming off the idle week.

The biggest storyline of this game will be what Penn State chooses to do with its quarterback situation, but the Hoosiers shouldn’t be counted out. Despite overall poor marks in conference statistics, Indiana has put up some tough fights this season and has a signature win over a gritty Illinois team.

The Team

Indiana is 3-5 this year and has mustered just one win in conference play, which was against now-No. 14 Illinois. It comes into this matchup with Penn State off an idle week after falling to Rutgers the week before.

Tom Allen is in his sixth full year as Indiana’s head coach. He was previously the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator and was named head coach after Kevin Wilson resigned in 2016. His best season as head coach was 2020, when Indiana put together a 6-1 conference record en route to a second-place finish in the Big Ten East.

Walt Bell serves as the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator. He’s in his first season in the roll after three years as head coach at UMass, where he led the Minutemen to a 2-23 overall record before being fired during the 2021 season. Indiana is eleventh in the Big Ten in offensive yards per game but is fourth in passing yards per game.

Allen calls the shots on defense but works closely with Chad Wilt, a Pennslvania native, who is in his first season as defensive coordinator. Indiana is giving up 30.6 points per game, which is tied for last in the conference.

Offense

Following the transfer of Michael Penix Jr., Connor Bazelak came in from Missouri to assume quarterback duties for the Hoosiers. His 54.9 completion percentage is worst in the Big Ten. Thanks to the pass-first nature of Indiana’s offense, Bazelak’s 208 completions are second-most in the conference.

Bazelak is just shy of 2,100 passing yards on the year and has thrown 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Cam Camper, his favorite receiving target, is out for the season with a torn ACL. He led the team with 46 catches and 569 yards before his injury.

James Franklin said he was impressed with wideout Emery Simmons, who now is Bazelak’s top remaining target. Simmons has 309 yards and a score this season after transferring in from UNC. DJ Matthews Jr. is tied for Camper for the most receiving touchdowns among wideouts with two.

AJ Barner leads the way for Indiana’s tight end corps with 132 yards and a touchdown. The junior’s 18 receptions are fifth on the team. Aaron Steinfeldt adds a touchdown to the group as well.

Shaun Shivers is Indiana’s go-to guy on the ground and has racked up 405 yards on 103 rushing attempts this year. The Hoosiers’ 80.4 yards per game on the ground is the worst mark in the Big Ten.

Shivers leads the team in touchdowns with four while his backup, Josh Henderson, has added three scores as well. Henderson is averaging 4.3 yards per carry on about half of Shivers’ attempts

Franklin pointed out the “juice” of true freshman Jaylin Lucas, who is averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 24 attempts. He’s also become quite dangerous in the return game.

Defense

Aaron Casey, Indiana’s starting will linebacker, leads the team in tackles (65) and has impressed Penn State on tape. He has 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles this year, too.

Cam Jones and Bradley Jennings Jr. round out the starting linebackers and are both top-four on the team in tackles. They each have one sack a piece and Jennings leads the team with five passes defended.

Linebacker Dasan McCullough leads the team with four sacks.

Safety Bryant Fitzgerald leads the secondary with 48 tackles and has one of Indiana’s five interceptions this year, tying a team high. He’s flanked by Devon Matthews, who has 43 stops in 2022.

Franklin was impressed with cornerbacks Jaylin Williams and Tiawan Mullen, who have 26 and 34 tackles this year, respectively. Williams has four passes defended while Mullen has an interception and forced fumble on the year.

Up front, Penn State has seen the most from defensive end/linebacker Alfred Bryant on tape. He has 24 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble this year. Overall, Indiana’s defense has not been strong against the run and is allowing more than 150 yards on the ground per game.

Beau Robbins is the only lineman credited with a full sack while Demarcus Elliot has contributed to one. Elliot leads the linemen with 18 tackles.

Special Teams

Charles Campbell is the kicker and is perfect on extra points this year and 12-for-15 on field goals. His season long is 51 yards and his 1.5 made field goals per game is second in the Big Ten.

James Evan is the punter and is averaging 44.5 yards on 46 punts this season.

Jaylin Lucas has already established himself as one of the most explosive return men in the conference. His 30.9 yards per kick return paces the Big Ten and returned the opening kick against Rutgers for a score.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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