Indiana has had such bad luck when it comes to quarterbacks, a healthy Hoosiers signal caller might actually be protected by the Endangered Species Act.
It started this summer, when Tre Roberson announced he would transfer to Illinois State rather than share time again with Nate Sudfeld.
Then in October, Sudfeld separated his shoulder. In that same game, a 45-29 loss to Iowa, backup QB Chris Covington tore his ACL.
Which means the Hoosiers offense has now been turned over to this guy:
While Zander’s photo might suggest an extra from “Zoolander,” you’d apparently be better off thinking of him in the same vein as a character from “There’s Something About Mary.”
His father told the Courier-Journal that Zander has a “Brett Favre kind of mentality.”
At the same time, his offensive coordinator compared him to Johnny Manziel.
That suggests a high-risk, high-reward style of play, and through four games, that has been the case. Diamont’s three interceptions have been offset by just one touchdown. He ran for an additional score. In fact, there has only been one game this year, last week against Rutgers, when Diamont had more passes than rushes.
So if the Hoosiers can’t lean on an inexperienced quarterback, who will they rely on? That would be running back Tevin Coleman.
He’s second nationally in rushing yards (1,678), second in yards/game (167.8), third nationally in yards per carry (7.84), and 14th in rushing touchdowns with 12.
He had his worst two weeks of the season in losses to Michigan and Penn State, but bounced back in a big way last week against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers with a 307-yard day in which he averaged 9.6 yards/carry. You might have heard about it, except that mention of it was drowned out by talk of another Big Ten running back’s monster afternoon. Some guy named Melvin.
Besides being statistically two of the better rushers in the nation and having stellar days Saturday, Gordon and Coleman have something else in common, too. They both get better as a game goes on and have better numbers in terms of yards/carry in the second half than they do in the first.
Coleman is second on the team in receptions. Meanwhile, Indiana’s leading receiver is Cleveland native, Shane Wynn.
Three of their offensive lineman have earned some kind of All-Big Ten honor, and they are among the most experienced front five in the nation.
One more note about the Hoosiers offense? They’re dead last in the league when it comes to third-down conversion percentage, as they check in at the paltry clip of 29.5%.
Defensively, Indiana brought in former Ohio head coach Brian Knorr to guide them this year, and there has been some improvement, but considering they were giving up nearly 40 points a game last year, improvement is a relative term.
The Hoosiers are 89th in total defense (432.7 yards/game) and 104th nationally in scoring defense (33.6 points/game).
Perhaps because they face Coleman every day in practice, they’ve been statistically more successful at stopping the run than the pass.
Other small successes for the Indiana D include their ability to bring pressure. They’re 47th nationally in tackles for loss, tied in that category with Auburn, for whatever that’s worth. Plus, they’re 26th in the country in third-down defense. Opponents have only converted 35% of their tries.
Indiana’s leading tacklers are both sophomores, safety Antonio Allen and linebacker TJ Simmons.
Senior defensive lineman Bobby Richardson has more sacks than any other member of the Hoosiers defense, but 3 of those 5.5 sacks came in the season opener.
And while senior corner Tim Bennett has 9 pass breakups, he has yet to record a pick. Four-year starter Mark Murphy and redshirt freshman Chase Dutra each have two.
Indiana is the most penalized team in the Big Ten. They are 12th in turnover margin and time of possession, and their special teams have struggled. They are 6th in the conference in punting, 9th in kickoff coverage, and 13th in kickoff and punt returns. Kicker Griffin Oakes is 8/12, but three of his misses have come from 40+ yards out. His long is a 58 yarder.
In other words? To get their first win in league play this week, the Hoosiers would need to provide some soap-opera worthy drama indeed.
(Thanks, Matt, for reminding me about Roberson. I forgot about his transfer until your tweet!)