Terry Hutchens: The thing about Coleman, much like Michigan State fans learned last year when the two teams played, is that he's a big play waiting to happen at any time. Last year he had a 64 yard touchdown run against Michigan State. In his career he has 16 runs of 40 yards or more. Last week against Iowa, which came into the game ranked in the top 10 nationally against the run, he had TD runs of 83, 45 and 69 yards. And so that's the big thing with him. He can break something at any moment. The other thing is that he's one of those guys who you may stop him over and over again and then all of a sudden he hits that one seam and he's gone. Against Bowling Green earlier in the year he had 12 yards on his first nine carries and 178 on his final 15 carries. That's a pretty typical Coleman like performance.
As for Michigan State being able to contain him, I think that all depends on IU's quarterback and whether he becomes a legitimate threat to do anything. If not, MSU will load the box and it could be a long day for Coleman. When Nate Sudfeld was the quarterback there was always the threat that he could go over the top. That will be the big key there.
Wilson: The quarterback position is much thinner right now than it was a season ago, as both players that played for IU will not be on the field. What can truly be expected of a player being thrown into his first game action?
Hutchens: That's clearly the question that everyone wants to find out. Adding to the unknown is that we really know next to nothing about Zander Diamont. Saw him on a little tape from high school but when we saw him in preseason camp it was too little of a sample size to really know what to expect. The fact that it's Homecoming (though who knows what the crowd will be like after the Sudfeld injury) will likely give him an extra lift but it truly is too much of an unknown. Here's is one way to look at it though. Last week at this time, Diamont from a mental standpoint was halfway through his redshirt season. He was No. 3 on the depth chart behind a steady, talented and durable No. 1 in Sudfeld. There was no thought at all that he could potentially play this season. One week later he's the starter against the No. 8 team in the nation in a nationally televised game on ESPN. How will he respond. Maybe he plays really well and maybe he lays an egg. There will be a lot of eyes on him on Saturday. Should make for a good story.
Wilson: Not much is talked about with the Indiana defense, given the focus rests on the offense. What should Michigan State folks expect from the Hoosiers' D and who are the players to know?
Hutchens: The big difference with the IU defense is that with new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr IU has gone from a 4-3 to a 3-4. The big question all season has been whether IU had the personnel to really play a 3-4 or if it was forcing a square peg into a round hole. So far, this group has been OK. The two issues for Indiana on defense have been the inability to get off the field on third down and the lack of turnovers created. If IU can't be more disruptive and cause a few turnovers against the Spartans it will be a really long afternoon for Hoosier fans. It may be any way. But IU has had better pressure at times up front led by Bobby Richardson, Adarius Rayner and Darius Latham. Nick Mangieri is a name you hear a lot and the same is true for a true freshman linebacker out of Cincinnati, Tegray Scales. He's having a solid year. The secondary has been a little questionable at times but there are a couple of big hitters back there including Antonio Allen and Michael Hunter.
Wilson: Looking at the matchup, what are your keys to the game for Indiana to have success?
Hutchens: For Indiana to have success, a couple of things have to happen. The offensive attack needs to be more than just Tevin Coleman. If the quarterback doesn't establish himself early it could be a long day for IU. Another key is simply hanging around. Put a brand new quarterback in a 21-0 deficit hole and it could really make for problems. Indiana needs to score early in this one. Defensively, as I said above, the Hoosiers need to find a way to create a turnover or two. And then they simply need to get off the field. They cannot allow Michigan State to methodically march the ball down the field. Finally, IU has to be more consistent in special teams. Kicker Griffin Oakes, a redshirt freshman, has a big leg and has made a 58-yard field goal this season. Most of his kickoffs go out of the end zone. He needs to flip the field when called upon on Saturday.
Wilson: How do you expect things to unfold Saturday?
Hutchens: When Nate Sudfeld went down with his shoulder injury against Iowa, a lot of IU basketball fans immediately went to the Indiana website to check and see when the first regular-season basketball game will be played (That's Nov. 14 versus Mississippi Valley State by the way). This is a program that still has a pretty small margin for error. Two weeks ago, there was still belief that with the state and quality of play in the Big Ten this year that IU could still have a shot at a bowl game. Indiana is 3-3 and still plays Michigan, Penn State, Purdue and Rutgers. Tevin Coleman will always give you a chance but not having a QB with the big play ability of Sudfeld will make it a much more difficult road to climb. In this first transition game with a new quarterback, I expect Michigan State to win by four touchdowns or more. The only scary thing for MSU fans with that prediction is that my prediction record with IU is 2-4 this season.