IU Insider Blog: Eyes on Coleman

If Indiana hopes to be competitive this Saturday at Wisconsin, it's going to need sophomore tailback Tevin Coleman at full strength. He left the Illinois game in the fourth quarter with an ankle sprain. Here are some thoughts on his importance to this IU team.

When we attend Indiana's weekly football availability Monday in the Henke Hall of Champions, there's little doubt what the first question will be for Kevin Wilson.

What is the status of Tevin Coleman?

Coleman had a career rushing performance against Illinois on Saturday when he ran for 215 yards on 15 carries and scored two long touchdowns.

But he had to be helped off the field midway through the fourth quarter after he was tackled on the Illinois sideline. Wilson said later it was a sprained ankle. But he didn't know any other details.

The one thing Indiana can't afford right now is to have any of its weapons not at full strength as the Hoosiers head for Wisconsin on Saturday.

The game with the Badgers will already be Indiana's most difficult game of the season. IU has surrendered 200 plus points in the last three meetings against Wisconsin. Remember the 83-20 loss in Madison in 2010? I'm still convinced that the score of the game, more than anything else, spelled the end of Bill Lynch's run as the IU head coach.

But the Hoosiers need to be at full strength on Saturday when they travel to Wisconsin. Nate Sudfeld is going to have to be on top of his game and the same will be true for his talented group of wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.

And right now Coleman is a key. He went into the Illinois game needing 257 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Before the game started, it seemed like it might take him two or even three games to get there. But after Saturday's performance, he is now 42 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark.

How significant is that? The last Indiana player to run for over 1,000 yards in a season was Levron Williams in 2001. Williams had 1,401 yards. If Coleman is healthy, there's no reason he couldn't end up in that yardage range himself.

Still, that's the key on Monday when Kevin Wilson meets with the media to talk about IU's 4-5 record with three games to play. Indiana has to win two of those three games (against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue) in order to get bowl eligible.

If Coleman can play on Saturday, Indiana's chances to at least be competitive will be much greater. But if Coleman can't go or he's day-to-day all week, it's going to be much more difficult.

So stay tuned. As soon as we hear anything, I'll Tweet it out and very likely write about it again following Monday's availability.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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