Thursday, October 17, 2013

Indiana Hoosiers: Numbers and Notes

Since I don't have anything planned for today, I figured I'd take a basic look at some statistics and personnel before writing Friday's general preview.

At quarterback, Nate Sudfeld leads the way for the Hoosiers. Sudfeld is 118/192 on the season (61.5%), with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Sudfeld is throwing for 8.35 yards per attempt.

Of IU's three BCS opponents (Missouri, Penn State and Michigan State), Sudfeld had two of his worst performances in there (Mizzou and MSU).

Missouri: 21/39, 229 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs

MSU: 14/30, 137 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs

Of course, we know what IU did to Penn State, which makes last weekend's Michigan loss even stranger.

PSU: 23/38, 321 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Against the Spartans, IU had some early success, but it wasn't a product of Sudfeld's arm. On the Hoosiers' opening drive, Tevin Coleman took a carry 64 yards to the house on the fourth play of the game. After that, the IU offense didn't have much success until later in the second quarter after recovering an MSU fumble. In fact, it was backup quarterback Tre Roberson who drove the Hoosiers from the MSU 41 to the end zone.

Sudfeld did come back and connect on a 53-yarder to Shane Wynn, part of a 7-play, 72-yard scoring drive on IU's opening possession of the second half.

With that said, against the best defense IU had faced to date (and probably the best defense it will face all season), Roberson got more run than he did against any other opponent, throwing a season high 17 times. What does this mean for Saturday? Well, IU's QB situation continues to be potent but less than settled; I wouldn't be surprised to see Roberson once again featured a good deal, whether Sudfeld struggles or not.

At tailback, Tevin Coleman is a guy with the ability to break a long one at any time. Coleman has amassed 557 yards on 91 carries this season (6.1 YPC).

Ignoring the Indiana State, Navy (which was a loss, by the way) and Bowling Green games and things get less rosy for Coleman. However, he's still broken some long runs against Big Ten foes the last two weeks, including a 64-yard romp against the Spartans last weekend, no small feat. Against PSU, Coleman rushed for 92 yards on 20 carries, which would qualify as just decent against a not spectacular PSU defense if not for his supplementary seven receptions for 55 yards.

Against MSU, however, Coleman did nothing outside of the one long run; he finished with 79 yards on 15 carries. Remove the one long gain and he managed just 15 yards on 14 carries. Of course, that was against Michigan State; Michigan's defense is closer to PSU's level than it is MSU's.

Regardless, Coleman is a big play threat with receiving ability. From my limited viewing, he seems like Bill Belton if Belton didn't have to share the rock with Zach Zwinak.

Backup/once starter Stephen Houston 230 yards on 35 carries; 155 of those yards came against Bowling Green. Houston did not carry the ball a single time last Saturday against the Spartans. At 6'1'' 230 pounds, Houston is the thunder to Coleman's lightning, although he hasn't really done much against any team other than Bowling Green.

At wide receiver, 6'3'' Cody Latimer leads the way with 35 receptions, 544 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Michigan secondary, his numbers aren't the product of a breezy opening trio of games. Latimer had two of his three best games against Mizzou and PSU, and although he managed just 58 yards on seven receptions against MSU, he did get in the end zone.

Kofi Hughes is a familiar name here; he has 22 receptions, 316 yards and four touchdowns of his own. Hughes stands at 6'2'', making for a pretty formidable pairing with Latimer.

Tiny slot receiver Shane Wynn has 342 yards on just 18 receptions this season, plus four touchdown scores. He has 53- and 68-yard receptions to his name against MSU and Mizzou, respectively. Michigan will have its hands full covering Latimer and Hughes on the outside and Wynn in the slot.

Defensively, the Hoosiers are not very good, as you'd expect. While Indiana put up more points on the Spartans than any other team thus far this season, they also gave up 42 points.

How bad are they? Well, this just about sums it up:
On defense, it’s a bit of a different story. Indiana struggles against the run in particular, allowing 217 yards per game. Not really much better against the pass, so it’s no wonder the 456 yards of total offense it allows ranks 105th nationally. And it’s giving up 32.8 points per game. 

MSU, with an offense dormant for much of this season, torched the Hoosiers for 42 points and 473 yards. 

Looking for a way to improve? Try getting off the field on third down. Indiana’s foes are converting 44 percent of their third downs and moving the chains at a rate of 25.2 per game, 118th out of 123 FBS teams. 
Like most up-tempo spread teams, defense isn't exactly a priority. With that said, even the worst defenses have guys making plays here and there.

For Indiana, that seems to be cornerback Tim Bennett, who, according to that last link, leads the nations in PBUs (14). He is also tied for the team lead in tackles (45) with linebacker David Cooper.

Indiana is tied for 53rd in sacks (12). Backup defensive end John Laihinen leads the way with 3.5 sacks. Nick Mangieri, a starter at defensive end, has 2.5 sacks of his own (and leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss).

For what it's worth, Mangieri and fellow starting end Ryan Phillis are both listed at 260 pounds, so I'm not sure which one is the SDE and which one is the WDE. It seems like Mangieri is the weak side guy, but I don't know that it matters either way.

If Michigan is going to run power against any Big Ten foe, it has to be against these guys. At defensive tackle, IU does have three 300+ pound players in the two-deep (Alex Todd, Adarius Rayner and Ralphael Green), but that size obviously hasn't helped them much in stopping the run.

Indiana's linebackers are bigger than I imagined they'd be--in fact, they're on average five pounds heavier per guy--but from what I've seen they seem to be your typical, not too athletic or speedy Indiana linebackers. I distinctly remember Kain Colter shaking David Cooper out of his shoes on a zone read play last year, which is actually not that embarrassing because Colter does that to a lot of people.

In any case, Michigan (i.e. Devin Gardner) can run around these guys and Devin Funchess will have a fairly comfortable time going over the top of them.

In the secondary, redshirt senior safety Greg Heban is third on the team in tackles and has a team high two interceptions.

That's about it for now. The book on Indiana is pretty simple: explosive offense, no defense. However, Michigan's propensity to turn the ball over becomes magnified against a team that can bury you with points like Indiana. Although Indiana was aided by Spartan turnovers, they did put up 28 on them. I'd have to guess they'll put up close to that or slightly more against Michigan.

The Hoosiers have serious talent at the skill positions; they don't have a player of the caliber of Allen Robinson, but the Latimer-Hughes pairing is formidable. Coleman is a big play waiting to happen and the quarterbacks are effective, depending on whichever one is hot that day, or even in a particular quarter.

I'll probably say it again tomorrow, but this is Michigan's most important contest against Indiana in a long time (possibly ever). A loss would be disastrous, a signal of some very difficult times ahead. Michigan's ability to regroup and execute will be tested this Saturday in the Big House.

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