With MSU looking to shed its fourth quarter hoodoo this week against Indiana, we sent some questions to Ben R. from SB Nation blog The Crimson Quarry. He was great enough to answer them.
With Nate Sudfeld out, do you think Indiana will still integrate a significant amount of passing into the offense against MSU? Or will the Hoosiers hand the ball to Tevin Coleman 50 times, aka the Spartans' offense with Le'veon Bell in 2012?
1. Coach Kevin Wilson is an offensive-minded guy, so I think he will attempt to establish a passing game, regardless of who is playing QB. Looks like true freshman Zander Diamont will be starting for us on Saturday. That being said, IU has primarily been a run-first team this season, so I'm expecting a lot of handoffs and read-options built into the game plan. I know everyone (including myself) is worried about how this situation will play out, but I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin Wilson has a trick or two up his sleeve for this weekend.
Speaking of Tevin Coleman, he's a fearsome back, as the Spartans found out when he broke a 62-yard run on them last season. What makes him so good?
2. Tevin Coleman is a beast, and already has over 1000 yards rushing in just six games - I believe the only other guy who can claim such a feat this season is Melvin Gordon. I think what makes Coleman so elusive is that he is both very good at finding a hole on offense, as our offensive line has done a good job blocking for him, and at confusing defenders by juking and maneuvering around them and breaking away from them. In addition, he's also a threat to catch passes out of the backfield, so overall he's been a bright spot during another tough IU football season. Running backs aren't as high commodities in the NFL Draft anymore, but it wouldn't surprise me if Coleman went in the 2nd or 3rd round next spring, if he declares for the draft.
It's Kevin Wilson's fourth season at Indiana, and he currently has a record of 13-29; however, the Hoosiers have improved in each of his three seasons. Do you want Wilson to stick around for a while? Or do you think he may have a ceiling?
3. My fellow writer at TCQ laid out the reasons yesterday
for why staying the course with Wilson makes sense, and I largely agree. He is in year 4 of a seven-year contract, so I think year 5 will really be the bellweather for him now. He improved the Hoosiers in each of his first three years, and one could say the team looked to be on that trajectory up until Sudfeld's injury last week. So while pushing the reset button now isn't the best choice, I do worry about Wilson's in-game coaching decisions and clock management, and whether our defense will ever be consistent under him. However, if he gets us to a bowl game this season with our third-string QB, then I might be willing pony up for an extension right then and there.
Let's pretend you're the new AD, and your first order of business is to revive interest in Indiana football. Obviously improving the quality of the team helps, but what else do you do to spur excitement?
4. I actually think that AD Fred Glass has made a good effort to revitalize interest in football here at IU. He's renovated the stadium, and attempted to make games fun for people of all ages by both emphasizing the great tailgating scene and setting up a small football field outside the end zone for kids to play at. In addition, the Hoosiers play an entertaining, fast-paced style of football that appeals to Hoosier fans in this basketball-crazed state. Ultimately, however, I think that the team has to win games in order to draw fan interest. This is obviously true everywhere, but especially at a school like IU, with its incredibly depressing football history
. The climate here is tough, as Indiana is a medium-sized state with three major college athletic programs in it (and Louisville directly to the south), but it's also not impossible to get people excited and win games, as Bill Mallory proved in the late 1980s and Terry Hoeppner was starting to do in his unfortunately short time here.
Indiana's defense ranks 118th in F/+ rankings which is...well, that number has opportunities for improvement. Are there any bright spots among the defensive linemen, linebackers, and secondary?
5. Yeah, it's pretty frustrating. We brought in Brian Knorr from Wake Forest during the offseason to run the show on defense, but that unit still is making boneheaded plays and missing tackles. However, there have been some bright spots on defense. Bobby Richardson has been getting sacks, and Nick Mangieri and Tegray Scales both are solid playmakers, whereas Tim Bennett is the lone bright spot in the secondary. Hopefully the defense can play well enough to keep us in games, like against Mizzou, and not completely break down like they did in the first quarter of the Iowa game.
The law requires you to give a prediction for the game here.
6. I'm required by law to make a prediction? Well in that case, I'll say MSU wins 38-14, as the IU offense struggles to gain its footing other than an obligatory Tevin Coleman touchdown, and the Spartans roll against our inconsistent defense and don't have another late letdown this week.