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 second game of the season against Bowling Green, Thomas Schmeltz, the sports editor of the Sentinel-Tribune in Bowling Green (Ohio) and Falcons beat writer has graciously accepted my invitation to talk about BGSU by answering the following five questions.
Here is our first Scouting the Opponent Q&A with an opposing beat writer.
1. How much does Bowling Green lose not having Matt Johnson at quarterback? And tell me about your first impressions of James Knapke, a player who I'm guessing is going to be looking forward to play his home state school?
SCHMELTZ: “It's pretty simple really, with Matt Johnson on the bench, BG loses somebody with experience, and the experience of winning and playing in big games. Johnson brings another dimension to the game with his ground game and ability to scramble and throw on the run. Knapke looks more like your prototypical quarterback. He's big, has a nice arm, and is a sit-in-the-pocket kind of player. He'll run when he has to, but he won't be in any hurry to tuck it.
“Knapke impressed me in his first start. Yes, it was against Virginia Military Institute. But seeing Knapke in fall camp, I was less-than-impressed. He looked uncomfortable and timid at times. But last Saturday he controlled the offense and set the pace. He made some nice reads and some nice throws, finishing 22-for-31 with somewhere in the area of 235 yards. It will be interesting to see how he handles some pressure that he is sure to see Saturday.’’
2. Travis Greene and Fred Coppet combined to rush for 83 yards against Indiana last season. I know they can be an explosive duo. Is it more like 1A and 1B or is Greene the primary back? What makes him so explosive?
SCHMELTZ: “Greene is certainly the primary back. Coppet will see his time, especially to give Greene a breather in this offense. Dino Babers seems to love this combination and is going to embrace the two-back system with both of these guys being a little bit undersized. His biggest concern is for them to stay healthy.
“Greene's vision and quickness is what makes him special. His quick cuts gives him the ability to make guys miss, and then he has that breakaway speed when he gets out in the open. I'm just not sure he'll have the holes to get out in the open this week.’’
3. Besides the quality of opponent, what was the big difference between the way Bowling Green played in the opener against Western Kentucky and in the second game against VMI? Did they do much different schematically in the second game?
SCHMELTZ: “Schematically it was all pretty much the same. Offensively I think we saw a team that was a little bit more comfortable in this new offense. It's all about feel and doing the little things at this point. Drops cost Bowling Green in the Western Kentucky game and Babers and Co. were very clear to us (the media) and the players that drops are unacceptable. How the Falcons will react to an immensely better defense on Saturday? I don't know. I'd expect they'll have to throw a little more in order to keep drives going. I don't see the offensive line creating a lot of holes for Greene and Coppet.
“Defensively, Bowling Green just tackled better. Now the tackling probably still wasn't where it needed to be, but they did get better. Missed tackles resulted in YACs at Western Kentucky. The coverage is still a little soft and they're going to give up yards through the air, so in order to have a chance to slow Indiana, there's no doubt that tackling in the secondary will be the key.’’
4. From a distance, I saw that Western Kentucky put up 700 yards against Bowling Green and I know Indiana put up 600 yards against them last year. The Falcons appear susceptible to a good passing quarterback. IU can run or pass this season. If you had to guess would you think Bowling Green would try to take away Nate Sudfeld more or Tevin Coleman? How does this defense look to you??
SCHMELTZ: “Frankly, the defense looks...soft, to put it nicely. As mentioned before, Bowling Green is going to give up yards through the air. The DBs play well off the ball and that group is going to have to rely on solid tackling to have a chance at slowing the receivers of IU. The corners are just not good enough in coverage to stick a guy at the line of scrimmage, and the defensive line does not create enough pressure to scare any quarterback at this point. Now, injuries over the last week or so have not helped the situation on defense, but it was a scary situation to begin with.
“If I had to guess, I would say Bowling Green will try to take away the run and make IU beat it through the air, as crazy as that sounds with what I have just mentioned. Bowling Green is going to give up points, and I think it is just fine with that. Babers' goal is to out-score you, not stop you. I just don't think this offense is put together enough yet to out-score a team like Indiana.’’
5. We always ask the opposing beat writer for a prediction. I saw where the line is Indiana by 6. Some people think it will be more lopsided than that. I'm not sure, especially if Knapke gets fired up to play the state school. What is your prediction for Saturday's outcome?
SCHMELTZ: “Indiana by 6 seems like a favor to Bowling Green. I don't see this being much better than a 20-point game in favor of the Hoosiers. Just my guess, I'll say 49-28 Indiana and it could be worse. A lot is going to have to go right for the Falcons to stay competitive in this game. Special teams is going to have to be nearly perfect, and the defense is going to HAVE to create turnovers. I think this defense is going to get eaten up over the next couple of weeks, and as mentioned before, I just don't think the offense is groomed enough to be able to keep up with major programs yet. It could certainly get there, but I'd be surprised if it's this year.’’
Again, thanks to Thomas Schmeltz for sharing his expertise today with us at AllHoosiers.com.