The Last Word: Give Sudfeld Time

If the offensive line can give Nate Sudfeld and company time today against Michigan State, the Hoosiers' offense has a chance. But IU's big guys up front will face their biggest challenge of the season with an impressive Michigan State front seven.

Some people will say that a big key for Indiana today will be to establish any kind of running game against Michigan State.

And that's true.

The Hoosiers simply cannot allow the Spartans to take away the run to the point where IU's offensive game plan becomes too predictable.

And when facing the No. 1 ranked defense against the run in the nation, allowing just 51.2 yards per game on the ground, it certainly will be a monumental task for the IU offense.

But I think there's a bigger key offensively for the Hoosiers today when they travel to Michigan State to take on the 4-1 Spartans at Spartan Stadium.

The offensive line needs to give Nate Sudfeld or Tre Roberson the time required to do something on offense. If the quarterbacks are on the run in the pocket today Michigan State is only going to add to its sick defensive statistics for the season. Michigan State leads the nation in total defense, allowing just 203 yards per game.

Now, if Sudfeld has time in the pocket I'm as comfortable with him as any of the pocket passing quarterbacks Indiana has had in my 16 years covering the team. The true sophomore is a cool customer. He's poised, confident and has so many weapons that if given time he can really pick a part a defense.

Even a defense as good as Michigan State.

But if he's consistently flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw on the run, he is unable to take advantage of his strengths. And if that's the case I think Indiana comes out on the wrong end of a lopsided result today.

Another concern for the Hoosiers is the offensive line as IU lost another lineman last week to injury when right guard David Kaminski went down. Add him to returning starter Dan Feeney who is out for the season and will redshirt and starting right tackle Peyton Eckert who appears to be coming more of a redshirt candidate all the time and IU can't afford to have any more linemen go down.

As it is, it will need players like redshirt sophomore Jake Reed at right guard and redshirt sophomore Ralston Evans at right tackle, in particular, to step up today.

So all eyes will be not only the IU offense and the quarterbacks today but the big guys up front, too.

Watching the line play could very well tell the story as to whether Indiana can hang around and make it interesting against the Spartans today.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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