Buck Suhr knows Indiana football.
Suhr spent 18 seasons on the IU football staff as either an assistant coach or administrator. He was the running backs coach for 12 years under Bill Mallory. Among the running backs he coached was IU All-American Anthony Thompson.
Beginning today and continuing every Friday before an IU football game this season, Suhr will take a look at the upcoming IU opponent after watching film during the week in our The Buck Stops Here feature.
Admittedly, the first week is always the toughest for coaches looking at film of the opponent. Without any new film to go on, it’s next to impossible to get a real feel for what that opponent may do. It’s the same problem that Indiana State’s staff will have to an extent although you can bet the ball will be in the air from the arm of Nate Sudfeld on Saturday.
So, Buck, how difficult is it in a season opener to really get a feel for an opponent?
“It’s impossible,’’ Suhr said. “You take last year’s film and you try to do as much newspaper work as you can. And try to get a feeling for the coaches and if there’s any new coaches and what their philosophies are. So you get a feeling that way but you really go in not having a real good clue if there are any changes or anything.
“I think with Indiana State there may be some changes going on but you really have no idea what they are just yet. There are only so many things you can do personnel-wise on offense from where they are but defensively there could be a lot of changes going on for them would be my guess.’’
One constant for both teams heading into this game is that they have quarterbacks behind center who played significantly in this game a year ago. Sudfeld was 12-of-17 for 219 yards against Indiana State a year ago. Mike Perish was 11-of-29 for 118 yards.
“That’s the one thing that Indiana has a pretty good feeling for is their quarterback and what he can and cannot do,’’ Suhr said. “But other than that. You look at their offensive line. A lot of their offensive line is back and you can get an idea of what they can and cannot do. With their skills guys a lot of guys have moved from different positions to receiver.
“I think where there is always a concern from an offensive standpoint is what teams are thinking they can do defensively. On offense you really can’t change a spread team to a ‘I’ team without people really knowing what that is. But defensively there can be a lot of changes but there’s a lot of things you can do blitz wise and that kind of thing that maybe they didn’t show last year. ‘’
One of the possible changes on defense is the same one that Indiana is making this season – going from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4.
“I would think they probably are,’’ Suhr said. “They haven’t said that but they have a lot more linebackers than they do defensive linemen. So my guess is that’s one of the reasons they’re really being quiet is that they’re going to the 3-4. And my guess is that against us they’re going to play a lot of nickel any way. That’s one of the misnomers about the 3-4. Any time you’re in a nickel you’re in a 4-3 look. Or a 4-2-5 look is what it ends up being. But against Indiana, I think they’re going to be mostly in nickel. And they’re going to be blitzing from all over the place would be my guess.’’
From an Indiana standpoint, Tevin Coleman ran for 169 yards on 14 carries against Indiana State a year ago. Conventional wisdom would be that IU will to get Coleman loose again.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Indiana is going to try and run it,’’ Suhr said. “They’re going to try and be physical and establish the run. I think Indiana is going to spread it out and take their young wide receivers and then just try to pound it at Indiana State. Throw it a little bit, but from a game plan I think they’re going to want to set the tone physically and pound the ball.’’
That’s our first installment of The Buck Stops Here at AllHoosiers.com. We won’t have one next week because IU doesn’t play but look for Buck’s comments again on Friday, Sept. 12 previewing the IU-Bowling Green game.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch