With every game this season, AllHoosiers.com's Ben Faunce will take a look at an offensive and defensive player to keep an eye on that day for Indiana.
Here are the two players to watch Saturday against Bowling Green.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Nate Sudfeld
It wasn’t the greatest start to Sudfeld’s 2014 campaign. In his first game as the premier Hoosier quarterback, the junior only managed 111 yards through the air while looking uncomfortable in the pocket at times and failing to be in sync with his receivers.
The passing game will be a focus against Bowling Green on Saturday, and I expect Sudfeld to get back into a groove. Look for the Falcons to stack the box early in an attempt to slow down the Indiana rushing attack that put up 455 yards against Indiana State. If this is the case, Sudfeld will be throwing the ball early and often.
In order for the Hoosiers to make the bowl game appearance that fans are hopeful for, the passing game must get tuned up. In last season’s five Indiana victories, the passing game put up an average of 312 yards, while the offense combined for an outstanding 53.4 points per game. While Indiana was able to pick up a win against Indiana State, they only managed to put 28 points on the board and, as already mentioned, 111 passing yards. Those numbers will have to be improved this week in order to gain confidence going into an important stretch of the schedule.
I think Sudfeld will have a much better game this week, and I expect to see him around 250 passing yards and throwing for at least two touchdowns. Indiana could look to throw the ball downfield more, and it will be interesting to see if Sudfeld will discover a favorite No. 2 receiver option this week, possibly in the form of senior speedster Nick Stoner or 6-4 freshman Simmie Cobbs, who led the team in targets, receptions and yards in the opener.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: DE Bobby Richardson
Richardson was impressive against Indiana State, accounting for three sacks. He is a difference maker up front, and it was only a matter of time before his talent transferred to the field. Going forward, it will be about staying consistent.
If Richardson can make a couple of big plays this weekend, it would give him the confidence to be a force up front on a weekly basis. Another factor in making a bowl game this season is the defense. They’ll need guys who are stepping up every week in order to make stops and get the offense the ball back. This week, it starts up front with the senior Richardson.
The Indiana pass rush is an important factor to beating Bowling Green. They will be trying to disrupt redshirt freshman quarterback James Knapke, who will be making only his second career start since taking over for the injured Matt Johnson. Look for Richardson to get to Knapke early to get him rattled.