Pressure Drew Tate - Saying it and doing it are two different things, but Indiana needs to find a way to get consistent pressure on Tate.
Don't be surprised to see the Hoosiers blitz the junior quarterback regularly in an effort to keep him from getting into a rhythm and finding his comfort zone. While that makes the Hoosiers susceptible to screens and draws, the Hoosier secondary has been solid this season in wrapping up people in the open field. Those in coverage will also have to be alert when Tate opts to tuck the ball and run, because he's very much like Illinois' Tim Brasic in his ability to turn negative plays into positive ones by eluding the rush and scrambling.
Certainly the preference would be to rely on Indiana's front four to provide that pressure, and defensive ends Victor Adeyanju and Ben Ishola, along with nose guard Russ Richardson, are capable of beating their men in one-on-one matchups. Iowa has surrendered 13 sacks (10th in the Big Ten) and the offensive line gave up a Big Ten-worst 40 a year ago. But if the Hoosiers don't show the ability to consistently collapse the pocket and force Tate to throw before he's ready, bringing additional pressure will be a must.
The two teams that have knocked off the Hawkeyes this season have done just that. Iowa State recorded three sacks in its 23-3 win Sept. 10, and Ohio State totaled five sacks in its 31-6 win two weeks later. In Iowa's wins over Illinois and Purdue in the last two weeks, those two Big Ten foes have combined for only one sack in 120 minutes of game action.
Come Away with Points in the Red Zone - This might seem like a repetitive theme, but the Hoosiers can't afford to squander opportunities to put points on the board when the venture inside the Hawkeyes' 20-yard line.
Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker isn't afraid to give yards. In fact, Iowa gives up 364 yards/game, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten, one spot behind Indiana's 354.8 yards/game. But what Iowa does is tighten up in the red zone. Iowa gives up only 16.5 points/game, compared to the 22.4 points/game that Indiana has yielded.
Iowa does it with the Big Ten's best defense inside the 20. Opponents have ventured inside Iowa's 20-yard line 17 times this year, yet come away with points only 10 times. That's only a 58.8 percent conversion rate, which leads the Big Ten by a wide margin – Indiana ranks second at 71.4 percent. Iowa has been the beneficiary of four missed field goals inside of 40 yards by opposing teams, but they've also forced a trio of turnovers down deep, with one interception and a pair of fumbles.
For all of the turnovers and penalties that Indiana committed in its trip to Wisconsin, arguably the game's biggest play was Yamar Washington's fumble at the UW 15. Indiana appeared ready to punch in a touchdown to close the Wisconsin lead to 10, 34-24, in the third quarter. Instead, Indiana squandered a golden opportunity to have a chance to come away with a win in the fourth quarter.
Whether it's turnovers, penalties or missed field goals, the Hoosiers can't afford them when they have the opportunity to put points on the board. Doing so will cripple the Hoosiers' chances of springing the upset.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday –Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
On Saturday – Hoosier Gameday
Two Days and Counting...
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