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.
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.
The first question I had for Buck with regards to Bowling Green was in regards to Falcons quarterback James Knapke, who made his first collegiate start last week against VMI. Knapke was forced into action after starter Matt Johnson suffered an injury in the first game and was lost for the season.
“I don’t think he’s as athletic as the other guy is but he may fit throwing to those big receivers better than the other guy,’’ Suhr said. “He’s a big guy. I don’t think it’s a whole big dropoff. Obviously Johnson had won the battle so they feel like he’s better but this kid is not a big downgrade at all.’’
Was the 59-31 loss to Western Kentucky an anomaly or was it a case where it snowballed and got out of hand? What happened there?
“First of all, Western Kentucky is really good on offense, really good,’’ Suhr said. “They beat up Illinois but because Illinois still had 600 yards of offense they didn’t have as many opportunities as they had the week before. But when you watched the Western Kentucky game you just felt like the (Bowling Green) secondary was lost. They started playing soft and their secondary just got way out of whack. And Western just started throwing the ball any time it wanted to against really soft coverage.
“In the second game, they learned from it and they’re going to press and play free safety, and be much more aggressive. The first game they just played soft zone and got killed. They’ve had a change of heart as far as their secondary goes. They’re going to be much more aggressive.’’
What do you think of their tailback, Travis Greene? He has 220 yards on 36 carries in two games and has scored three times.
“He’s good. He’s a solid running back,’’ Suhr said. “They have two good running backs. They’re going to play Greene most of the time. The other guy is a changeup guy only. So Greene is the guy you worry about. But they’re not going to change what they’re doing from one back to the other. So it’s going to be the same deal. Greene is just a consistent guy. The guy he really reminds me of is D’Angelo Roberts if I was going to compare the two. He’s a hard runner, he’s tough, and maybe a little bitter but he’s a good back.’’
Suhr has also been impressed with Bowling Green’s offensive line on film.
“Their offensive line is solid,’’ Suhr said. “Typical MAC line. Short, 300-pounders.’’
From a scheme standpoint how are they different than the team that was in Bloomington last season?
“How they’re different is that this team will play a lot of different formations,’’ Suhr said. “Most spread teams like to have a left receiver, and a right receiver, so you don’t have to switch sides in the speed. They can go down the field and come back. This team will do a lot of different formations. They’ll take their slots and move them. They’ll be in trips. They’ll be in a lot of different formations which can give a lot more problems for defenses particularly 3-4 defenses because your linebackers are adjusting to different formations all of the time.
“Play wise it’s pretty much the same stuff. But where they’re different is with formation stuff. They run a lot of different formations.’’
How about defensively?
“Pretty typical,’’ Suhr said. “The secondary is where they ran into problems running soft zone which I don’t think they’ll do against us. They’ll blitz five guys as a run blitz, too. There’s a run blitz that just gets that fifth gap filled quicker. So they’ll be bringing a lot of guys. There’s going to be five gaps covered a lot of the time.’’
That’s our second installment of The Buck Stops Here at AllHoosiers.com. Look for the next one on Friday, Sept. 19 previewing the IU-Missouri game.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch