After rolling Indiana State 73-35, IU will face the Navy Midshipmen; another team the Hoosiers faced last season. Navy opens up its season in Bloomington this year.
Coach Kevin Wilson specifically scheduled the season opener for a Thursday so he would have extra time to prepare for the Midshipmen. Navy’s triple option offense is tough for nearly any team to stop, and in reality the Hoosiers (1-0) have been prepping for it since spring.
Last year, the game against Navy came during the middle of the Big Ten season and was the last of a five-game losing streak after the Hoosiers fell 31-30. IU was in control for much of the game, but struggled in the second half as Navy mounted a comeback.
It was also a rough outing for Cam Coffman, who threw two interceptions including one on the final drive that ended any attempt at a comeback. On defense, the Hoosiers surrendered 257 yards on the ground alone. On their game winning drive, the Midshipmen tore apart IU’s defense, and left the Hoosiers with little time to mount a comeback.
Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
- Defense. Its a no brainer that we’ll be looking at how well the defense performs. Wilson spent a lot of time preparing for Navy last season and it was all for naught. Last week, IU put together a solid performance against ISU, but was it a fluke? Was that the quality of opponent or has the defense really turned the corner (even slightly would be an improvement)?
- QB Rotation. Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld had very good games against ISU last Thursday. Coffman, however, did not. Wilson would not rule out using a three-man weave once again against Navy. Its clear to mean that Coffman is the weak link, and if IU wants to win this game, then Wilson should stick with Roberson or Sudfeld. The fact that Coffman had a bad game against Navy last season should factor into this decision as well. Roberson apparently suffered a bruised rib against ISU, which would explain why he didn’t see as much playing time. Despite that, he will be ready to go against Navy.
- Turnovers. IU coughed the ball up to Navy twice last year, but couldn’t manage a single take away. The Hoosiers need to find a way to force turnovers if they are going to win more than four games this season. IU lost the turnover battle with Indiana State, 3-2 last week. If IU can force Navy into obvious passing situations, they’ll be at an advantage and hopefully will come away with an interception or two.
- Receiving Corps. Kofi Hughes and Shane Wynn had big days against Navy last season, but no touchdown passes were thrown. Last week, IU had six passing TDs and the receivers dominated the game. The Hoosiers have such a deep pool of receivers that they will be able to find someone open on every play downfield. Expect IU QBs to make it rain on Saturday Wynn, who was shaken up after an illegal hit on a punt return (read: concussed) against ISU, will play this weekend after clearing tests and returning to practice Tuesday.
It appears that IU’s offense has taken a fairly big leap in the offseason. Navy will play clock management with its rushing attack and get good yardage, but its unlikely that the Midshipmen will be able to stop or slow down the hurry up offense Wilson is running.
While IU will struggle to stop Navy early in the game, Navy won’t be able to stop IU at all. IU will build an early lead, forcing Navy into passing which plays into the Hoosiers strengths (such as they are) on defense. All it will take is a slightly better performance on defense to win this game easily for IU.
IU wins 35- 17.
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