After knocking off Syracuse last week, Maryland (3-1) travels to Bloomington, Ind., to take on Indiana (2-1), which just knocked off No. 18 Missouri, 31-27. The Hoosiers' surprising victory (they were double-digit underdogs) last week came on the heels of a 45-42 loss to Bowling Green the game prior.
Here’s a look at the Terps’ next opponent and what Maryland fans can expect out of the Hoosiers at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 27:
The Hoosiers are a pure spread, one-back unit that moves the ball just like Chip Kelly’s Oregon teams used to. In fact a possession that lasts longer than three minutes is a rarity. Now, Indiana has slowed down the tempo a bit this year compared to seasons prior, but it still moves fairly fast (think West Virginia).
While the Hoosiers typically line up with one-back and three receivers, head coach Kevin Wilson -- an offensive-minded coach who came over from Oklahoma – likes to vary formations and blocking schemes in order to give defenses different looks. Sometimes Indiana will go with an empty backfield and five wides, sometimes the Hoosiers will use two tight ends, and sometimes they’ll direct snap it to the running back.
Wilson’s a gambler, too, and has been known to attempt fourth-down conversions in unconventional situations. So far this season IU is only 3-for-8 on fourth down, but don’t expect the Hoosiers to stop taking risks.
Naturally, given its pace and array of weapons, Indiana can put up points in a hurry. The Hoosiers are averaging almost 34 points per game and 547 yards of total offense (237 passing, 310 rushing). That eye-popping rushing average ranks eighth in the FBS, and the total offense is 11th. And for an up-tempo team, their time of possession is actually a respectable 30:33 minutes per game, which isn’t terrific but still better than their opponents.
One area of concern for the IU offense has been penalties. The Hoosiers have seen several drives stalled due to ill-timed infractions; in three games this year they’re racking up 71 penalty yards per game.
A prototypical shotgun spread quarterback, Nate Sudfeld (Jr., 6-5, 230) stands tall in the pocket, makes quick reads and sprays the ball around to his potent receiver weapons. He’s known for his poise and proficiency, as well as his arm. Now, IU doesn’t throw it deep too often, preferring to dink and dunk down the field (most passes are in the 10- to 15-yard range), but Sudfeld can go up top if he needs to.
Sudfeld can run it a bit too. He’s no dual-threat by any means, but if there’s a lane he’s athletic enough and fast enough to pick up a few yards (he has 23 attempts this season, and two rushing touchdowns). His forte is throwing the football, though, and through three games he’s operating at a robust 135.04 efficiency. He’s completed 65 percent of his passes (60-for-92) for 710 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception. He’s coming off a game where he finished 18 of 33 for 252 yards and a score against Missouri.
It should be noted that there were questions surrounding Sudfeld before the season began. In 2013 he struggled at times, and had to battle for his job pretty much every week with Tre Roberson. In fact, Roberson looked to be IU’s choice for starting quarterback this year after he threw for six touchdowns against Purdue in the 2013 season finale. But for whatever reason Roberson transferred earlier this summer, leaving the offense in Sudfeld’s hands. And now that he no longer has to look over his shoulder, the junior triggerman has responded with three fine outings, including a 31 of 41, 300-plus-yard performance against Bowling Green.
While Sudfeld can throw all day if needed, he hasn’t had to with IU’s rushing attack firing on all cylinders. Tevin Colemam (Jr., 6-1, 210) is the feature back and is considered an explosive runner with home-run hitting abilities. He’s the type of back who might be bottled up early, but as the game wears on he begins to pile up the yards before busting off a 50-yard jaunt. Coleman has nine touchdown runs of over 40 yards in his career, and had a 49-yarder last week.
For the season Coleman has 569 rushing yards (third in the entire FBS), is averaging 8.6 yards per carry and has scored six touchdowns. Last week he piled up 134 yards and a score in the upset of the Tigers.
Coleman may be the breadwinner, but his backup, D’Angelo Roberts (Sr., 5-10, 207), is pretty good too. He’s more of a deceptive runner with some shake to him, though he does most of his work between the tackles. Roberts is more compact than Coleman, and while not quite as explosive, he’s still capable of busting off a big run.
This year he’s rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns, and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Against Mizzou Roberts had 15 carries for 65 yards and two scores.
IU traditionally has bigger receivers who can go up in traffic and pull down over-the-middle passes, but this year’s crop is a bit different. It’s filled with shorter, speedier guys who take throws in stride and motor up the sideline. These guys aren’t the type to run a straight 9-route for a Sudfeld bomb; they’re more likely to take a quick slant and split the seam.
Nick Stoner (Sr., 6-1, 190) is the tallest starter among the four main wideouts at 6-1, though he too is more about his wheels than his physicality and downfield presence. In fact, Stoner actually runs track at Indiana and was a 4.3 40-yard dash guy coming out of high school. For the season he has nine catches for 124 yards, and is coming off a two-catch, 56-yard effort.
Shane Wynn (Sr., 5-7, 167), meanwhile, is one of IU’s two starting mighty mites. He was a slot receiver earlier during his career, but this year he’s moved to the outside. IU gets him the ball in a variety of ways, allowing Wynn to use his open-field moves and pure speed to slice through the defense. For the season he’s hauled in a team-high 18 passes for 207 yards and had six catches for 60 yards against Missouri.
The man who replaced Wynn in the slot, J-Shun Harris (Fr., 5-8, 162), has both of IU’s receiving touchdowns this year, including one last week. Another fast guy who can make plays in space (IU loves to use him on receiver screens), Harris has 11 catches for 123 yards so far.
The main rotational receiver, Isaiah Roundtree (Sr., 5-11, 197), is fairly similar to Harris. He’s a little taller, but is basically a track star who has the ability to take a short throw and turn it up. He has just two receptions this year, but is fully capable of busting out at any time.
The Hoosiers also have two more talented freshmen in addition to Harris in Dominique Booth (6-1, 205) and Simmie Cobbs (6-4, 215), who should both be heavily featured in the offense before the season’s out. These two are more along the lines of IU’s traditional possession receivers. Both are known for their soft hands, physicality and ability to grab passes in traffic. Booth has one catch this year, while Cobbs has three for 34 yards.
As far as the tight ends are concerned, IU doesn’t really use them in the passing game. When the Hoosiers do feature them, they’re typically blockers who act as extra offensive linemen. Indiana's No. 1 tight end, Anthony Corsaro (Jr., 6-3, 253), has been out with an injury but could be ready to return this week. He’s known as a potent, powerful blocker with enough agility to make a catch down the seam if called upon.
Michael Cooper (Jr., 6-5, 256) has been playing in Corsaro’s place, however, and does have two receptions this year. He might be the most athletic tight end on the roster, but Cooper’s main calling is sealing the edge for that effective IU running game. So far he’s done well in that respect, though we’ll see if he’s atop the depth chart if Corsaro is healthy.
The IU staff is also high on true freshman Jordan Fuchs (Fr., 6-6, 230), who could see some time this year.
The running backs don’t get all the credit for rushing for 310 yards per game and averaging 6.0 yards per carry. The offensive line is experienced, deep and filled with 300 pounders who excel at run blocking. (They're pretty good pass blockers too. IU has allowed just four sacks all year and mostly keeps Sudfeld upright).
Though not all returning starters, IU’s line has been together for several years now, and all five are used to playing with each other. The Hoosiers have numerous solid backups this year, too, and that should aid them as they head into the meat of the Big Ten, where the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Nebraska have worn down IU’s trenchmen in the past.
At left tackle, Jason Spriggs (Jr., 6-7, 300) is known for his run blocking, but after three years on campus he’s developed into a proficient pass blocker as well. Spriggs might not be a guy who ends up in the NFL Draft, but he’s been a reliable blindside blocker his entire career.
Next to Spriggs is Jacob Bailey (So., 6-5, 303), a big, capable blocker who beat out Bernard Taylor (Sr., 6-2, 300) for the starting gig. Bailey’s got a mean streak to him and gets after it up front, but Taylor’s not exactly a slouch. The latter sees plenty of time rotating in and is key to IU’s developing depth.
The center, Collin Rahrig (Sr., 6-2, 285) , is Indiana’s only starter under 300 pounds. A senior, he’s worked his way up from walk-on to starter and has been a dependable presence the last few seasons. Rahrig also has experience at guard, but he’s more effective at center where his knowledge of opposing defenses and IU’s line calls make him more of an asset.
At right guard, Dan Feeney (So., 6-3, 305) is back after missing all of last year with an injury. Feeney started every game as a freshman and is considered a solid all-around blocker.
Finally, at right tackle, Peyton Eckert (Jr., 6-6, 290) is yet another guy who is coming off a season-ending injury. Eckert hurt his back during camp last year and missed all of 2013, but he’s back to form now. He’s a guy who showed plenty of promise his first two seasons and has looked good in his return to the lineup.
Indiana brought in Brian Knorr from Wake Forest to run its defense, and he switched the scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4 with a bandit (safety/linebacker hybrid). That said, IU tends to spend a lot of time in nickel, so the change hasn’t exactly looked too much different than past years. And, really, the results haven’t been much better for the Hoosiers either.
Despite playing two lower-level opponents its first two weeks, IU gave up its share of points and yards, and currently the Hoosiers are 84th nationally at 27.3 points surrendered per game. The rush defense hasn’t been terrible statistically, allowing 126 yards per game (44th nationally), but that’s because opposing offenses are throwing the ball all over the place. IU is No. 105 in the FBS at 287 passing yards allowed per, and even in victory last week it gave up 326 passing yards.
Although IU did record 13 tackles for loss and two sacks against Missouri, for the most part the defense’s effectiveness has been questioned, especially its front seven.
The Hoosiers do have seven sacks through three games, to go along with 23 tackles for loss, but the push up front has been inconsistent. There’s a reason they gave up almost 500 yards to Mizzou and ended up losing to Bowling Green, and it had a lot to do with the defensive line’s inability to collapse the pocket.
That said, defensive end Bobby Richardson (Sr., 6-3, 286) is probably IU’s best pass rusher, and has three sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a blocked kick thus far. He’s quick off the ball and can bust through multiple blockers, but he hasn’t been a constant presence. Richardson tends to disappear at times and can be neutralized by a solid opposing tackle.
At nose tackle, Ralph Green (So., 6-5, 307) and Nate Hoff (RFr., 6-2, 305) rotate, with the latter getting more snaps. Both are adequate run stuffers, but lack the mobility, agility and power to rush the passer. Hoff has eight stops and two tackles for loss, while Green has six stops and 2.5 tackles for loss.
IU also rotates its defensive tackles with Adarius Rayner (Jr., 6-2, 307) and Darius Latham (So., 6-5, 318). Latham showed promise as a true freshman last year, but he’s still developing. Rayner is a bit of a plodder and hasn’t always been effective either. Latham has three tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery; Rayner has five stops and a quarterback hit.
Probably the best all-around player on the Hoosiers’ defense is Nick Mangieri (Jr., 6-5, 260), the bandit linebacker. He’s an active, aggressive defender who hits hard and is seemingly always around the ball. IU likes to bring him up near the line, taking advantage of his pass-rush skills, but he’s loose enough and athletic enough to defend in space as well. He has 10 stops, three quarterback hits, an interception and two sacks this year, and in the past he’s proven to be a tackling machine.
Manigieri’s backup is Zach Shaw (Jr., 6-3, 250), and he plays a good amount. And with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack, he’s actually one of the defense’s better players even though he doesn’t start.
The rest of the backers are OK, but they’ve allowed some leaky yardage and aren’t known as thumpers or active run defenders. The strong-side linebacker, Forisse Hardin (Sr., 6-1, 230), has experience, but has struggled at times with his tackling. He’s second on the squad with 20 stops, though he’s whiffed on a few as well.
T.J. Simmons (So., 6-0, 230) is the middle linebacker and started almost every game as a true freshman. But he’s been up and down needs to work on diagnosing, wrapping up and getting downhill. Simmons currently leads IU with 22 tackles to go along with 1.5 tackles for loss.
The weak-side linebacker, David Cooper (Sr., 6-1, 236) was a junior college transfer and has been relatively solid. Still, like his fellow backers, he’s had spates of inconsistencies. Cooper has 18 tackles and a tackle for loss this year.
Considering IU is allowing almost 300 passing yards per game, one could surmise IU’s defensive backs have some issues. And they do… except maybe not as glaring as you might think. Fact is, it’s hard to gauge just how good or bad they are because the Hoosiers’ pass rush hasn’t exactly lent a helping hand.
On the outside, Tim Bennett (Sr., 5-9, 185) is IU’s best cover corner, although he did give up the game-winning touchdown against Bowling Green. Though rather small, Bennett’s a competitor who plays bigger than his height. A speedster with above-average ball skills, Bennett has 16 tackles and a team-high five breakups this year.
The other corner, Michael Hunter (Jr., 6-1, 192), is decent, though he’s been taken to task a few times this year. He’s a physical defender but doesn’t have the same ball skills Bennett possesses. For the season Hunter has 13 tackles and a breakup.
At the safety spots, Antonio Allen (So., 5-10, 205) and Mark Murphy (Sr., 6-2, 215), are two of Indiana’s more reliable defenders. Allen is an explosive, big-time hitter who is probably the most potent tackler on the defense. He can cover, too, but his forte is coming up and delivering the blow. For the season he has 19 tackles and a tackle for loss. Murphy, meanwhile, has been around forever, starting each of his four years in Bloomington. He’s a savvy safety with decent range and cover skills. So far this year he’s got a pick to go along with 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Also keep an eye on IU’s two backup safeties, who are pushing for more field time. Freshmen Tony Fields (5-11, 203) and Kiante Watson (6-0, 208) both have high expectations and have seen snaps in every game so far.
Indiana’s special teams, namely its kicking game, has been a cause for concern in Bloomington. Kicker Aaron Del Grosso (RFr., 5-10, 195) has a big leg and can put the ball in the end zone at will, but he has not been accurate on field goals (he even sent one kickoff out of bounds). So far he’s just 1 of 4 on his field goal attempts, his only connection a chip-shot 23 yarder. He’s missed from 26, 39 and 41 yards, and some have questioned whether Del Grosso is having confidence issues. In fact, one of the reasons IU attempts so many fourth-down conversions is because field goals are far from automatic.
Indiana’s punter, Erich Toth (6-3, 200), hasn’t been that much better. He’s an average booter at 38.3 yards per kick with a long of 52 yards and a short of less than 10 (he shanked one against Bowling Green). Toth has placed five punts inside the 20-yard line and had six fair caught.
The return game has the potential to be explosive, though IU’s main threats haven’t broken through just yet. Shane Wynn, the receiver, is averaging 25 yards per kick return, while Damon Graham (So., 5-10, 190) is picking up 17 yards per. Wynn’s longest return this year was 31 yards, but he’s fully capable of busting a long one.
J-Shun Harris handles punt returns, but he’s only taken back two kicks for 18 total yards. It should be noted that Harris did muff one punt and may be on shaky ground moving forward. If so, expect Wynn to assume punt return duties as well.
In terms of coverage, IU’s kick cover team hasn’t gotten much burn because Del Grosso typically sends his kicks out of the end zone. But the Hoosiers’ punt coverage team has been problematic. Indiana is allowing 13.5 yards per return and ranks among the worst 20 units in the FBS.
Opponent Preview: Indiana
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