Ohio State vs. Indiana Preview

Indiana fans probably haven’t been this eager to play Ohio State since 1942, which is the last time the Buckeyes and Hoosiers collided in a game where both teams were undefeated and it wasn’t a season opener.

They’re so excited, in fact, Indiana’s supporters lobbied for ESPN’s Game Day to come to Bloomington for the first time ever…and ESPN actually considered it.

They’re also probably motivated by the memory of last year’s game in Columbus, which they led 20-14 midway through the third quarter, and by the heavy, Ohio influence of the Indiana coaching staff.

Indianas Ohio Coaches

What has them most excited, though, is their 4-0 start and their wins over Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky, and Wake Forest. Yes, they’ve had to come from behind in three of those four victories. Yes, they’re one of the most penalized teams in the nation, averaging a little more than 8 penalties per game. Yes, they’re giving up 32 points and 360.5o passing yards a contest. But they’re undefeated through 4 games for the first time since 1990.

Obviously, when there are 96 defenses giving up fewer points than yours, it has to be the offense carrying the team, and carrying the Indiana offense is the nation’s current leading rusher, Jordan Howard.

His sophomore season, Howard set the single-season rushing record at UAB with 1,587 yards, but then the Blazers eliminated their football program. The Hoosiers have reaped the benefit with Howard running the ball nearly 28 times a game and averaging 6.1 yards a carry. He’s scored four rushing TDs this year.

At around 230 pounds, Howard can wear down a defense. In fact, his third and fourth quarter numbers (8.0 and 6.0 yards/carry respectively) are better than the numbers he’s posted in the first half of games this season.

Running back Devine Redding of Youngstown is slightly smaller, but has contributed 237 yards and 3 touchdowns of his own.

Indiana can throw, too. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld is ranked 16th in the country with 1,143 passing yards. He’s completing more than 61 percent of his passes, and has 7 touchdowns to just one interception.

Already three of his receivers have reached double digits when it comes to receptions, led by Ricky Jones with 18. He is, without a doubt, a threat. There are only 6 players in the FBS right now with 10 or more catches who average more than 22.5 yards/catch. Jones (22.83) is one of them.

Their offensive line has over 100 combined total starts, and not only have they paved the way for the success of Howard and Sudfeld, but they have only given up 2 sacks so far.

For as much as Indiana has struggled defensively, they, like the offense, are especially prolific in the third quarter. The Hoosiers have outscored teams by a combined total of 51-0 coming out of halftime. Plus, they play a 3-4, which Ohio State has struggled with this season. And they do force turnovers, already with 4 fumble recoveries and 4 picks.

Those turnover numbers are somewhat surprising when you consider that the Hoosiers aren’t otherwise very disruptive. They are ranked 123rd nationally in tackles for loss.

Defensive tackle Darius Latham has 5 of those TFLs. Defensive end Nick Mangieri paces the team in sacks with 3. Linebacker, and Hamilton, Ohio native, Oliver Marcus has the lead in total tackles with 28, and he’s forced two fumbles.

The secondary is littered with freshman and sophomores, and they’re still recovering from the offseason dismissal of Antonio Allen, but corner Rashard Fant has shown some flashes with nine pass breakups.

The Hoosiers host the Buckeyes this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on 97.1 The Fan.

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Get to Know: Indiana

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:

Zander

This is Zander Diamont, son of soap opera star Don Diamont. His stepmother was in Seinfeld.

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!)

Coach’s Show Summary-Indiana

A reminder that next week, coach Urban Meyer will be joining 97.1 The Fan on FRIDAY to preview The Game. Of course, of more immediate concern for Ohio State is their upcoming game against Indiana. That was the focus of Meyer’s most recent appearance on the airwaves, and here are the highlights…

  • “Our job is to win games, graduate players and make sure we’re developing people; and I think we’re doing a really good job with that. It’s not to cover a certain spread. So we enjoyed our week this week, and got to get better.”
  • “Josh [Perry] has been practicing all week. Curtis Grant, lateral movement is a little bit of an issue, had a high ankle sprain. Tough guy, that we need to get him back…[Joey Bosa] looks good. He had just a sore neck, and he’s practiced. Yesterday was full speed.”
  • “We don’t really believe in redshirting, but there’s a bunch of guys who didn’t play because they weren’t quite good enough. The good thing is a lot of those guys are getting better and better, so we might even have to play one or two of those young guys at this point, because the injury issue is real.”
  • On whether he might give Kenny Guiton an honorary start on Senior Day: “You know, I think our job is to go win this game and do the best we can to go win it, and I’m not saying Kenny can’t do that. We’ll do what’s right by team and Kenny.”
  • Regarding Bradley Roby: “He’s all set to graduate in the spring. We’re going to push that really hard. He’s a pro, the way he handled his business, made a decision to come back for his teammates, had some ups and downs beginning of the year; but he’s a wonderful kid. I love Roby. I want another Roby, but he’s got a chance to go make a living playing professional football…He’s been great, and we’re certainly going to recognize him at Senior Day.”
  • “I mean, I understand because there are incredible fans out there that need to know the inside of Buckeye football, but for every second I’m sitting here talking about this, Warren Ball–I go back to this every time–I mean, we have to teach him how to tackle. He’s never tackled, and he’s running down on kickoffs. So for our team to worry about anything else other than their job description, and for me to worry about anything else other than my job description, is kind of nonsense…I wish I could take our players, take them away every Monday, load them up in buses, go on a desert island and just work their tails off. ‘Come on. Let’s go play.’ And then you guys can have your little press conference January 7th, or whenever it is, and talk about the season. Think they’ll let me do that?”
  • On Carlos Hyde: “He’s continuing to play well. The chemistry between the O-line and the tailback here is one of the unique things I’ve gotten to witness in my coaching career, and it’s really fun to watch those guys play together.”
  • “Jeff [Heuerman] has really done a great job for us. He’s one of our best players. He’s a leader…There’s a chance you’ll see both tight ends play a little bit more this week, too.”
  • Scouting Indiana: “They’re second in the Big Ten conference in scoring and total offense…Other than two or three teams, they’ve scored 40-plus points, including our rivals, and they moved the ball very well against Michigan State. I think scored 28 points, so this is an issue. Very good schematically. They’re very fast, run a lot of plays, so it’s something we’ve worked hard on…Defense? They’re struggling. They’re not a big blitz team. Very sound. You can tell they’ve lost a couple players from last year, but they’re certainly capable.”
  • Key for the Buckeye defense against the Hoosiers: “They get the ball out quick, so it’s hard to get pressure on them. We have to fill the rush lanes, so the quarterback can’t scramble, and at times drop eight into coverage and seven into coverage.”
  • Really respects Indiana coach Kevin Wilson: “Creative guy. Good guy. I can’t say I know him that well, but I’ve competed against him several times. When I was at Bowling Green, we played Northwestern. When I was at Florida, we played Oklahoma. But he’s one of those guys [who’s] known throughout the country, and he’s doing the same thing here at Indiana that he’s done at those other places.”

Want more Meyer? You can listen to his entire hour-long discussion with Paul Keels and Jim Lachey with the podcast posted here.

Buckeye Bullet Points: A Senior Day Moment

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer looks ahead at Saturday’s game against the Indiana Hoosiers.


Players and assistant coaches also previewed Senior Day at the Shoe.

Finally, a note on the latest Ohio State depth chart: Despite their injuries, Jack Mewhort (knee), Joey Bosa (neck), Curtis Grant (ankle/lower back), Joshua Perry (upper body) are all listed at their regular positions.

Buckeye Bullet Points: Indiana Preview

Last year, Indiana lost to Ohio State 52-49. The Hoosiers took little solace in the fact that they scored more than they ever have before against the Buckeyes.

The Scarlet and Gray, meanwhile, took to heart the need to improve their defense. They buckled down, and in their remaining five games, they only gave up an average of 20.4 points/per contest. (Including the Hoosiers, the first 5 BCS-conference opponents OSU faced had posted an average of 29.4 points per game.)

Fast forward to this season, and the Hoosiers again have a prolific offense capable of putting up big numbers, although you might not realize if you watched last week’s 51-3 loss to Wisconsin, which dropped IU to 2-4 in Big Ten play.

It’s important to stress how much of an aberration that was. It ended the school-record streak of 10 games with 28 points or more; it was the first time in almost two years that Indiana failed to score a touchdown; and it was more than 36 points below their season average.

Normally, quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson are leading an effective, quick-strike, fireworks display in cleats. Sudfeld is fourth in the Big Ten in passing yards/game, even though he’s splitting time with Roberson. Roberson is the more mobile of the two, but that being said, he still has 9 passing touchdowns, so he’s certainly capable of throwing the ball.

Indiana, which returned ten of their starters on offense, has five players with more than 1,000 career receiving yards playing together. That’s the first time that’s happened in Big Ten history. Leading the way are Cody Latimer (a Dayton native), Kofi Hughes, and Shane Wynn (a Cleveland native).

Not surprisingly, with a team that likes to throw it around as much as the Hoosiers, it’s not just the receivers getting in on the act. Ted Bolser is a mere 4 catches away from setting the Indiana record for number of receptions by a tight end. (He’s looking to best Bob Stephenson’s 115 from 1978-81).

The Hoosiers don’t rely on their run game quite as much, but their running backs are very capable. Tevin Coleman sets the pace, has a touchdown in every game he’s played this year, and averages 7.3 yards per carry. He was out last week with a sprained ankle. There’s no word yet on his status for the Buckeye game. When he’s not carrying the ball, Stephen Houston usually is.

Also of note regarding the Indiana offense is its pace. Twenty of their scoring drives this season took less than a minute. They typically get plays off in less than 20 seconds.

As for the other side of the ball? Well, they are 114th in the nation in scoring defense. If they end up last in the conference rankings in that category, it will be the third straight time that has happened. They’ve only forced 14 turnovers (96th in the nation), they have just 17 sacks (81st in the nation), and they allow opponents to convert on 46.4% of their third downs (109th in the nation).

On the plus side, defensive back Tim Bennett leads the FBS in passes defended (20) and pass breakups (19), and he’s 33rd in solo tackles (54). Second-team All-Big Ten selection from a year ago, safety Greg Heban has 51 solo tackles.

Finally, when it comes to special teams, kicker Mitch Ewald is 9/9 this year with a long of 50.

Ohio State welcomes in Indiana this Saturday at 3:30, with the game, of course, airing on 97.1 The Fan.

It Doesn’t Add Up

Indiana men’s basketball coach Tom Crean had one more player than he had scholarships available for the 2013-2014 season.

Something had to give.

It turns out that something was Remy Abell’s future as a Hoosier. Despite calling his time in Bloomington the “best two years of his life,” he’ll have to continue his playing career elsewhere.

And he was just the team’s latest victim of a numbers crunch.

Matt Roth knew it was his time to move on when Crean told him he’d be more than happy to serve as a reference on Roth’s job applications.

Meanwhile Bawa Muniru was described by the Indianapolis Star as “a widely popular player amongst IU students and fans,” but he had to make way for the members of the highly touted recruiting class of 2011. (Crean was not shy about that being his decision. “As a staff, we think the best thing for Bawa is to go to a program where he can play,” he said at the time.)

That’s at least three players who have left since 2010, because there was no room at the inn.

Now, roster management is a tricky business. Guess wrong about when a player will turn pro, have a player flunk out or get in legal trouble, and you could end up in a lurch.

The unpredictable nature of it all has led the Big Ten to allow some leeway (an institution can oversign by one), but Crean’s power of prediction suggests his crystal ball is all too conveniently cloudy.

Rather than use the latitude the conference provides as a buffer against chance, Crean seems to be using it as a tool to stack his lineup by chasing less talented players out.

It suggests a ruthless math that treats college basketball players as numbers, and little else.