With every game that Indiana plays this season, we'll take a pregame look at five keys that the Hoosiers will need to be successful.
Here's the five keys for today's game with Navy:
1. SLOW DOWN THE TRIPLE-OPTION Indiana did a good job against it for the first 50 minutes last year but the problem is that there are a lot of young freshmen on the defensive side of the ball that didn't play in the game. The good news is that Indiana appears quicker overall on the defensive side of the ball. Winning the game against an option attack is all about staying in your lanes and playing assignment football. One mistake can be a disaster against an option team. Especially one that has a quarterback like Keenan Reynolds who can throw the ball, too. IU may have a slight advantage there as Reynolds has been nursing a shoulder injury and hasn't practiced much the last two weeks. But IU needs to put that thought out of its mind and focus on playing assignment football.
2. ESTABLISH THE RUN Not only establish the run, but establish Tevin Coleman from the start. Gaining 169 yards against Indiana State was a good start but it also put a target on his back. And perhaps if Navy is keying on Coleman, Stephen Houston will be able to step up and have a big game. Last year, Houston gained 82 yards against Navy while Coleman had 29. From an IU perspective it doesn't matter which of the two backs have a strong showing today but one of them needs to do so in order to give the big-play IU offense the balance it will need to be successful.
3. DEFENSE NEEDS TO GET OFF THE FIELD It sounds easy enough but it never has been easy for the Hoosiers. The catch phrase for the defense this year is tap outs. That's when Indiana is able to get off the field on third down. Indiana fans got a taste of that against Indiana State. There's a fan board that keeps track of tap outs during the game. Last week, it hit the maximum of 12 by the end of the third quarter (you have to wonder if it will be expanded to 16 this week). But especially with a triple-option team that grinds out long possessions, Indiana needs to find a way to get the Midshipmen off the field on offense.
4. PICK A QUARTERBACK (OR TWO) Indiana doesn't necessarily have to just play one quarterback all the time but it probably needs to get to a point where one guy is getting the majority of the action. If not one, then two could work. But three quarterbacks in the mix for a prolonged period of time is only going to be a distraction. My guess is that Tre Roberson starts this one and as long as he's effective he stays in. Kevin Wilson may end up going to Nate Sudfeld if the offense stalls at all under Roberson. The other option would be to flip flop that scenario and start with Sudfeld. Either way Navy will likely get a different look than it did a year ago when Cameron Coffman was running the show exclusively.
5. SPREAD THE WEALTH This was also the fifth key to the game last week but it was a problem at times so it will be mentioned again this week. It was a good problem last week because three of IU's best receivers: Kofi Hughes, Cody Latimer and Duwyce Wilson did not catch a single pass in the first half. IU had 42 points before any of them picked up a reception. But with an offense that is filled with playmakers at every position, IU needs to keep everybody happy. Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch