As some of you all know, I like to center my thoughts around the numbers that make the game, and there’s one number more critical than any other this week – 6.
6 (Tevin Coleman) is going to have to carry this team on his back.
For Indiana to have a prayer of winning this game (and not just competing) Tevin Coleman has to put this team on his back and carry them for every stinkin’ yard.
Missouri boasts a very strong defense. They’re stout against the pass – they’re 22nd in Defensive Passing S&P, and have a great success rate on passing downs. It’s critical that Indiana stays “on schedule” this week – against this Tiger Defense, 2nd and 10 is problematic and 3rd and 10 is death.
If there’s one area that Missouri can be exploited, though, it’s the run game. The boys from Columbia are currently 66th against the run in the Defensive Running S&P, and that’s with games against Central Florida and Toledo in the books. I hope I’m not offending any Central Florida fans by saying that they don’t have any running backs of the quality of Tevin Coleman. Expect the play action pass to be a big factor this week as Indiana looks to keep the Missouri defense off-balance.
Keeping in mind Tevin’s significance in this game, I do have to say that the comments from Tevin Coleman printed in the Post-Dispatch worry me.
In case you missed the quote:
’”It’s hard to get recognized as a running back here at Indiana. Maybe if I were somewhere else I’d probably be noticed because it’s a bigger school and they win much more. I just have to keep working and we have to keep working hard and we have to win more games and maybe I’ll be noticed.”’
I’m not usually one to talk about “mindset” – that’s a concept that you can’t quantify, and can’t accurately gauge without being in the locker room on a day-to-day basis. But you have to be more than a bit worried to hear those words coming out of your star player the week before a huge opportunity to rebound against Missouri. Indiana has to have their mind right to win on the road against a tough Missouri team, and Tevin is a real leader there.
His importance in this matchup can’t be understated – if Coleman forces Mizzou to stack the box, even in passing sets, Indiana has a shot at putting up some points. Alternatively, if it takes a half for us to get the run game going (like it did last week), this could get ugly early.
Tevin, you wanted a chance to get noticed? Here it is, on a platter. If you carry the ball for 150 yards and Indiana to a road win against a tough Missouri team, things change for you in a hurry.
Trading 6 for 3
This Indiana bend-but-not break defense (or, more appropriately, bend but only sometimes break defense) is going to give up some drives down the field. I said on the Podcast this week that Bowling Green State had 7 drives of ten plays or more – the fact that Indiana’s defense held them to 45 points keeping that in mind is actually really odd. Indiana gave up an acceptable 5.5 yards per play, but the penalties flat-out killed this defense in the second half.
The lower-than-expected scoring output from the Falcons resulted from 4 methodical drives in the first half that totaled 4 field goals. Indiana’s defense wasn’t particularly good in the first half, except when it really mattered. Tightening up and holding the defense to 3 kept Indiana in the game early, even when the offense wasn’t firing and special teams were an embarrassment.
The game was lost when in second half, those field goal drives became touchdown drives – BGSU didn’t kick a single field goal (or punt, for that matter) in the second half. Call it tired legs, call it a lack of discipline, call it adjustments – call it whatever the hell you want. Penalties and lazy plays when it mattered were killers in a close game that really should have gone Indiana’s way.
To make it a game in Missouri, the Hoosiers have to change the story this week. It’s critical that Indiana scores touchdowns in the red zone, something that they were outstanding at last year, and forces a few field goals out of Gary Pinkel’s Tiger offense. For IU to win this game, it’s going to be a shootout. Each field goal forced instead of a touchdown can be considered a “win” for this defense.
IU needs at least 6 positive plays out of special teams this week to win.
Indiana can’t keep scoring in spite of special teams – fumbles, penalties, and dumb decisions have regularly put this team behind the eight ball so far this year. For Indiana to compete in Columbia, Indiana needs the special teams to not actively hurt this team. To win, they need them to make some plays. If Indiana’s able to block a punt or take a return to the house this week, their chances improve tenfold.
Michael Rayome (@DoctorHoosier): “My gut says that this is a 38-28 win for Missouri.
Missouri’s a tremendously efficient team – they’re currently ranked 12th in Football Outsider’s FEI+, on the strength of the third best FEI ranking nationwide. (Note: The FEI right now is heavily influenced by the pre-season rankings, so you can’t really take that as law. The number’s still fantastic, though.)
Regarding the flow of the game, I worry that Indiana struggles to get the run game going in the first half and we go down two TDs early. I expect Maty Mauk to have a very efficient day, and I think Coleman comes back down to earth somewhat. I made a bold prediction of at least a 40 yard touchdown run for Coleman, and I’m sticking to that – Mizzou can be had on the run, and they’re prone to giving up explosive plays. I expect Nate Sudfeld though to struggle against a very good pass defense, creating a hole that we can’t crawl out of.”
Scott: Scott “goes to the paper” to look at the game in his video preview.
Galen: “41 to 28 Mizzou. Someday we will win these games. Today is not that day.”