Things to watch from the IU Defense

There has been a tale of two cities when you look at the first game vs. the second game of the season for the Indiana Hoosiers. Which Hoosier team should UK fans expect on Saturday night?

In the first game against William and Mary (yes, William and Mary), the Hoosiers gave up 32 yards rushing on 29 attempts. Yes, 32 yards rushing on 29 attempts. That is a paltry 1.1 yards per rush.

Then came the Utah game, where the leading rusher in the COUNTRY, Marty Johnson, went for a cool 229 yards on only 28 carries. The team as a whole ran for almost 400, coming in at 386 yards on a total of 57 carries. But, lets go back into reverse, Johnson went for a bloated 8 yards per carry on his home turf, which begs the question, is Marty that good, or is IU really that bad?

Lets break down each game. Against William and Mary, they had a severe problem handling the Indiana front line pressure. There were 5 sacks (which all count against the total rushing yardage) by 5 different Hoosiers (although one of which, Christopher has been relieved of his duties from the team). The negative yardage tallied 70 yards against the total, bringing that rushing total to over a hundred, which brings the small team into respectability.

Against Utah, the line penetration was slim to none. Well, forget slim, and lets go back to none. There were exactly three tackles behind the line of scrimmage, totaling a huge loss of....4 yards. Everyone who touched the ball for the Utah squad gained yardage. There were no sacks (on 28 passing attempts) and only 2 hurries. TWO.

These numbers are not exactly all of Indiana's fault though. Utah's Marty Johnson is the nations leading rusher with a total of 405 yards, which means he gained 176 against the first week opponent. The only thing is, Johnson probably would have rushed for much more had it not been for the sprained knee he suffered late in the game, which will cause him to lose 6 weeks in the season. Last year, the Utes were 12th in the nation in rushing yardage per game, at 218.9 yards per game.

Obviously these numbers can be quite deceiving, because of the circumstances. During that Utah game, the passing game was virtually abandoned by the Utes because of the chilly rainy environment. It was 60 degrees and pouring rain by the 3rd quarter, leaving a good rushing team to do what it does best.

The reason why I focus on rushing yardage, is that UK comes off a huge week of rushing, and I am sure look at the numbers the Utes put up with frothing mouths. No doubt Pease will try to ram the ball down the perverbial throats of the IU defense, especially with the loss of Christpher, one of the biggest and most talented defensive lineman. This team gets real young, real quick, starting 5 true freshman with no real backups.

DiNardo has taken a completely different appraoch to his program than did Guy Mo. Morriss brought the people in who he thought could best work with the kids that he had, and make them a winner. DiNardo is trying to put a stamp on this program and show that it is his, almost completely ridding the team of any identity similar to the past regime.

What this leaves is a team that is on the ropes, trying to find an identity. Going against a very identified group of Wildcats could leave for an ugly scene come 9-14-02.

All these problems, and I have not even mentioned the passing defense. Against William and Mary, despite getting sacked 5 times and throwing 3 interceptions, they still were able to accumulate 259 yards passing. In fact, William and Mary, with their passing yardage actually gained more yards than did the Hoosier offense

I am not even sure I should mention the number of passing yards the Utah Utes accumulated because it is obvious they only pass to help keep defenses somewhat on their heels. Lance Rice completed better than 50 percent of his passes (54 percent to be exact) and threw no interceptions for 104 yards. The passes were usually quick outs or slant patterns off the play action to bring the linebackers in. Unfortunately for Utah they don't have any game breaking recievers, or the final score could have been much worse.

Judge for yourself, the numbers do not lie. What do you expect the total rushing yards to be this weekend? Tomorrow, I will break down the IU offense, and find out if they truly are as "offensive" as they look on paper.


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