Every Thursday at AllHoosiers.com we will have a scouting report on the team that Indiana will face that week in the form of a Q&A with a beat writer from that team.
For Saturday’s season opener against Indiana State, Todd Golden, the sports editor of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star and Sycamores beat writer has graciously accepted my invitation to talk about ISU by answering the following five questions.
Here is our first Scouting the Opponent Q&A with an opposing beat writer.
1. What are the big differences between this Indiana State team and the won IU fans saw at Memorial Stadium in the opener last year?
GOLDEN: “Differences are subtle with two big exceptions. One is obviously Shakir Bell, who was removed from the team in October last year during his final season. His explosiveness was ISU's primary threat in the previous two meetings.
“The other is ISU's inexperienced offensive line. There are four new starters and a combined 34 games of experience between them. ISU's somewhat experienced line didn't block well last year in a 1-11 season. Asking such an inexperienced crew to hold their own against a Big Ten team is a lot to ask.’’
2. What are some of the bigger question marks entering this season? I saw where the offensive line didn't have a great deal of experience.
GOlDEN: “As mentioned, the line is far and away the biggest concern. Other areas of concern include ISU's cornerbacks -- the Sycamores had trouble defending one-on-one against MVFC teams, much less Big Ten ones -- and ISU's receiving corps. There's a lot of bodies, but few of ISU's junior college and Division I transfers proved themselves last year. They get another shot, but the jury is out.’’
3. Who do you expect to start at quarterback and what can you tell us about him?
GOLDEN: “Mike Perish won the job in the spring and is entrenched. He's played against Indiana in both of the previous meetings. He's had one strong game (in 2012) and one middling game (last year). He has experience and he's good at throwing west coast-type routes. He's not as strong on timing routes and deep throws. He had four interceptions returned for touchdowns a year ago.’’
4. Indiana is going to a 3-4 defense this year. I believe I saw where you tweeted that ISU listed its starters in a 4-3 on its two-deep. Tell me about ISU's defense?
GOLDEN: “ISU is also "officially" going to a 3-4, even though it's listed as a 4-3 on the two-deep. What ISU has done since the last half of the Trent Miles era was to play a 4-3 with 3-4 principles.
“Connor Underwood is a hybrid defensive end-linebacker and one of the best pash rushers in the MVFC. In the past, he (and Ben Obaseki before him) could line up in a down or upright position. So that's where the 4-3 with 3-4 principles comes from. ISU will use Underwood occasionally in coverage and expect to have him more upright this season, hence the 3-4, despite what the game notes say.
“Besides the corners, ISU's defense is ahead of its offense. The defensive line is inexperienced, but they're there to hold the fort for quality linebackers like Underwood, Kendall Walker and hybrid sophomore linebacker-safety Jameer Thurman, who had a particularly strong freshman season.
“ISU has its best depth and experience at the safety spots. Donovan Layne and Mark Sewall are both veteran, experienced starters. Phil Wilson and Tsali Lough are also solid and got plenty of playing time last year when a waft of injuries completely deep-sixed ISU's season.’’
5. I always ask for a final score prediction. Myself, I don't expect IU to be as potent in this game as it was last year but I don't expect Indiana State to score as many as it did either. What do you think?
GOLDEN: “Last year's game was an everything-that-can-go-wrong did for ISU, but that doesn't mean the Sycamores will suddenly be as competitive as they were in 2012. ISU is out-gunned, out-muscled and slower on both sides of the ball, and that alone will ensure that Indiana has a relatively stress-free afternoon. It'll be extremely tough for the Sycamores to move the ball -- even against the Hoosiers' less-than-stellar defense -- with a line going through its first baptism by fire. I think IU wins 51-7.
Again, thanks to Todd Golden for sharing his expertise today with us at AllHoosiers.com.