Also titled “What to expect when you’re expecting (a blowout win)”.
When: 12:00 ET
Where: Bloomington, Indiana
Welcome back to Football season, folks.
Your Hoosiers start off with a tilt against in-state opponent Indiana State. This is the third straight year that the Hoosiers and Sycamores square off, with Indiana winning each of the series’ past 4 encounters.
Know your opponent
Indiana State coach Mike Sanford returns after an abysmal 1-11 season last year. Indiana State struggled to build much of anything last year after receiving a 73-35 beating at the hands of the Hoosiers.
In that game, the Hoosier offense was on fire. Sharing time with Tre Roberson, Nate Sudfeld threw for 219 yds and 4 TDs against 1 INT. Tevin Coleman exploded for 169 yards and 2 TDs on only 14 carries. Indiana had 45 points at the end of the first half.
The Sycamores return last year’s starting QB, senior Mike Perish. Perish originally played for Western Michigan in the FBS before transferring to Indiana State. Perish started eight games last year, throwing for 1,586 yards and 14 touchdowns. Perish had a huge game against Quincy College, but averaged a paltry 150 yards against the schedule’s remaining FCS opponents.
Indiana State’s offense is run-dominant, but will have to establish the run without the services of last year’s star, Shakir Bell. You might remember the talented back gashing Indiana last year for 113 yards on 16 carries. Bell left the team mid-year last year for reasons still unknown.
ISU was able to bolster their running back corps with a transfer from Cincinnati, Deionte Buckley. While Buckley’s contribution to the Bearcats was limited to a redshirt year and some special teams work, he came with great credentials out of high school.
The 5’9, 212 pounder was a 3 star running back out of Indiana power-house Warren Central. Buckley was the 31st ranked Running Back in his class, and was first team all-state in Indiana. Buckley isn’t a guy with much wiggle, but he’s physical enough to pick up the hard yards you need to keep a drive going.
What to watch for from your Hoosiers
There are few concerns about Indiana’s offense, which figures to be good enough this year to win a few games on its own merit. Indiana should put up points in a hurry against the boys from Terra Haute.
For Indiana to take the next step forward into bowl eligibility and sustainable mediocrity, however, the defense has to be competent.
The changing of the guard with the defensive coaching staff has Hoosier fans excited about the defense for the first time since the Bowl season in 2007. While the novelty of the 3-4 has raised some eyebrows, DC Brian Knorr and the two new position coaches hold impressive credentials working with (presumably) less talent than they’ll have to work with at IU.
Don’t expect this defense to become Michigan State or the ’85 Bears overnight. It takes time and sustained recruiting success to build a defense that can really shut down top-level offenses.
Although we’re not looking perfection, we’re looking on Saturday for improvement. Long story short – if this defense gives up 35 points again this year to a poor Indiana State offense, though, it may not yet be time to sound the alarm bells.
But it’d be a good idea to keep them close — just in case.
Your pre-game soundtrack
Paolo Nutini’s “Let Me Down Easy”
My gut says a 56-14 Indiana win. I think the defense shows just enough to make things easier on the offense. They’ll still make some infuriating mistakes – this is an inexperienced defense playing a new system – but they should do just enough to give you some hope for spending December watching Football in some place slightly warmer this year.
Or perhaps Detroit. But that’ll do too.