Indiana Offense Preview: Lewis & Hardy Show

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel breaks down the Indiana offense by analyzing the Hoosier personnel. For Indiana, it's the Lewis and Hardy show.

Offense Two Deep:

Quarterback

#15 Kellen Lewis  6-1, 177, Fr.

#14 Blake Powers  6-4, 224, Jr.

Running Back

#2 Marcus Thigpen  5-9, 182, So.

#22 Demetrius McCray  5-11, 189, Fr.

Wide Receiver

#82 James Hardy  6-7, 216, So.

#13 Andrew Means  6-0, 209, Fr.

Wide Receiver

#1 Jahkeen Gilmore  6-0, 211, Sr.

#7 Ray Fisher 5-9, 167, Fr. 

Wide Receiver

#7 James Bailey  6-2, 205, So.

#8 Nick Polk  6-0, 185, Fr.

Tight End

#83 Matt O'Neal, 6-1, 229, Sr.

#88 Nick Sexton, 6-5, 250, Sr.

Left Tackle

#76 Rodger Saffold 6-5, 275, Fr.

#79 Scott Anderson  6-6, 308, Sr.

Left Guard

#64 Pete Saxon  6-6, 310, Fr.

#78 Kyle Thomas 6-4, 290, So.

Center

#60 Justin Frye  6-5, 296, Sr.

#61 Ben Wyss  6-1, 280, Jr. 

Right Guard

#50 John Sandberg  6-2, 290, Jr.

#74 Chris Mangiero  6-1, 305, Sr.

Right Tackle

#70 Charlie Emerson 6-5, 266 Jr.

#73 James Brewer 6-8, 295, Fr.

 

Offensive Preview:

The Hoosier offense runs a spread offense which relies heavily on redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Lewis. Lewis not only is the team's leading passer, but he's also the leading rusher with 333 yards and four touchdowns. Through the air, Lewis is 148 of 271 for 1,826 yards 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Hoosier QB has a delivery similar to that of Vince Young, i.e. a side-arm slingshot type motion where his feet are usually not set. Despite being only a redshirt freshman, Lewis' inexperience hasn't shown and he was very collected in leading Indiana to an upset win over Iowa several weeks ago.

 

"Kellen is different from most freshmen," said senior wide receiver Jahkeen Gilmore.  "From the first game he started playing, we saw a lot of poise in him. As a quarterback you have to play with poise and take control. You are pretty much the head coach of the offense. When he came in and took charge and started making plays, we knew he was going to step up and make those plays."

 

If Lewis should go down, backup quarterback Blake Powers has plenty of experience after having piloted the unit last season.

 

The running game has been somewhat hit or miss all season long. Kellen Lewis will see plenty of designed quarterback runs, especially when the team is in a five wide receiver look. Despite the Hoosiers' solid passing game, in their blowout loss to Minnesota last week they were hurt by the fact no one other than Lewis could run the football.

 

 "We didn't play up to how we are capable of playing," said running back Demetrius McCray. "We can't dwell on that game. We still have two more and our goal for the end the season is still capable of being reached. We can't give up on that. I know we have to win one of these two games."

 

If the Hoosiers are to have any kind of shot against the Wolverines, they will need to develop some balance.  That means McCray and fellow running back Marcus Thigpen need to step up. Thigpen is a converted wide receiver who up to this point has had an up and down season. A noted speedster, Thigpen has rushed for 325 yards off 82 carries (4.0 avg.) and has also contributed 14 catches in the passing game. Both Thigpen and McCray are outside type runners who do their best work in space. Neither one has exceptional tools for the position but are certainly helped by the natural running lanes the system creates. Fullback Josiah Sears will be used from time to time as well. Though Sears hasn't been a big part of the offense, he has shown to be an effective power runner.

 

Given the vast array of spread formations that the Hoosiers use, expect four and five wide receivers to be the norm Saturday. The top playmaker of the group is 6-7 sophomore receiver James Hardy.  Hardy has been on a tear since returning from a suspension that caused him to miss a number of games early in the season. Hardy has 38 catches for 534 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games. Also a former basketball standout, Hardy has rare athleticism for his size and he doesn't drop many passes. James Bailey, Nick Polk, Jahkeen Gilmore make up the rest of the larger receiver sets.

 

Bailey has 31 catches for 335 yards.  Meanwhile, Polk is third on the team with 29 catches for 297 yards. Watch for freshman Ray Fisher. The former Cleveland Glenville Tarblooder doesn't have great size but has playmaking type athleticism. Senior tight ends Matt O'Neal and Nick Sexton are merely an extension of the offensive line when they are in the game.

 

The offensive line has been a work in progress all season long. The key question for the Hoosiers will be the availability of left tackle Rodger Saffold. The freshman lineman has been ill all week and if he is unable to go, he must be replaced by Kyle Thomas or Scott Anderson. Add into the mix the fact that right tackle Charles Emerson is vastly undersized, and the problems the Hoosiers will have with Michigan's vaunted defensive front become magnified. Senior center Justin Frye and junior John Sandberg lead the interior of the offensive trench.

 


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