Sep 7, 2013; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld (7) throws a pass against the Navy Midshipmen at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 Preview: Indiana vs Bowling Green

After last week’s disappointing loss to Navy, the Indiana Hoosiers need to bounce back with a big win over Bowling Green Falcons. This will be the first time that the two teams have ever met.

IU’s defense was shredded last week by the Midshipmen’s triple option offense. While poor run defense is nothing new, the fact that coach Kevin Wilson freely admitted that the Hoosiers (1-1) weren’t ready to play is disturbing. Half the job of a college coach is keeping players motivated and if the staff isn’t accomplishing that then its time for a shake up.

The Falcons are 2-0 with double digit wins over Tulsa and Kent State. While neither of those teams are particularly impressive, Bowling Green has looked very good in each win. IU enters this game as just a three point favorite.

Here’s what we’re watching for:

  • Nate Sudfeld. Its time for him to start. He has been the most consistent QB on the roster and should at least start every game. If he struggles then bring in Tre Roberson (never Cam Coffman). Sudfeld has eight touchdowns and is completing 72 percent of his passes. If IU can protect him, then he should remain under center. 
  • Defense. At this point, stopping anything would be a win. After giving up just 14 points to Indiana State (14 came off turnover returns, and the final touchdown was in garbage time), the Hoosiers gave up 41 to a Navy team that failed to score just twice (a missed field goal and the final kneel down). The Hoosiers only have two takeaways and have been giving up an average of 410 yards per game. BGSU has been averaging 486 yards a game, so they won’t exactly be easy to stop.
  • Offensive Consistency. IU is going to have to score 40+ points a game this season. That’s how bad the defense is. They aren’t going to miraculously get better. Its a talent issue that is made worse by poor game planning, and going back to last season, neither have shown much improvement. That means the offense can’t afford to have another slow start like last week. If the Hoosiers don’t score on their first couple drives, they’ll run out of time once again. BGSU is going to play ball control and try to run a lot of clock, much like Navy did. Wilson’s offense has to score early and put the pressure on the Falcons from the onset of the game.
  • Ted Bolser. The senior tight end has be fantastic so far this season. He has 11 receptions and four touchdowns in two games. We keep harping about how much of a matchup problem he is, but that rings true for Bowling Green. The Falcons don’t have anyone on the roster capable of locking down Bolser; and their linebacking corps will be dominated by the 6-6 tight end.
  • Run Game? IU had to abandon the run last week in order to play catch up to Navy. The Hoosiers want to establish a tough rushing attack to keep opponents off balance. BGSU has held its opponents to an average of under 100 yards rushing per game. IU had over 300 yards rushing in the season opener. The Hoosiers should be able to average around 150 yards rushing per games based on the style of offense alone. Running the ball more will control the clock and give the defense a rest. The fast 2-3 minute drives are nice for points, but it leaves the Hoosiers D gassed and constantly playing catch up.
  • Travis Greene. Bowling Green’s starting running back can do some damage. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry and will likely be a problem for the Hoosiers. The speed backs have been an issue for an IU defense that has a tendency to over pursue (leaving itself open for cutback runs). While Greene is great in the open field, he struggles in the red zone and at the goal line. The Falcons use heavy back William Houston to power into the end zone and at 262-pounds it’s easy to see why. If IU gets in a goal line situation, expect Houston to force his way into the end zone dragging the entire IU D with him.

Its tough to say that this game is a must win for IU, but the schedule is about to get a lot more difficult for the Hoosiers. IU will be lucky to win 2-3 games in conference play. Missouri next week will be no pushover either. 

After acknowledging the coaching failures of last week, Wilson and his staff will rectify their mistakes (simply because they have to). The entire team will show up this week and put together a complete game.

Even with an improved defense that doesn’t resemble a turnstile, this will still be a shootout. The Hoosiers ride a hot start to win this one 48-42.

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Tags: Indiana Hoosiers

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