The Hoosiers defense is good for a sick offense.
Indiana gave up an amazing 603 yards to Ohio State, the first good showing by the Buckeye offense since early in the season against Washington. Since Minnesota ended a two-game losing streak against Illinois last week, the Gophers should be functioning on all cylinders this week against the Hoosiers.
Bottom line: This could end up as the most one-sided game Hoosiers play all season.
Minnesota is the highest scoring team in the Big Ten and also the No. 1 rushing team, averaging 285.8 yards per game. After giving up 216 rushing yards to Ohio State, the Hoosiers are in serious trouble.
The only thing that can prevent a blowout at the Metrodome would be a better showing by the Indiana offense. Specifically, the offensive line needs to do a better job in the running game and protecting QB Matt LoVecchio or Graeme McFarland. In last week's loss to the Buckeyes, the Hoosier quarterbacks were sacked six times and LoVecchio had to come out of the game with a concussion.
"We feel like we're taking steps every game, but we're young and we're continuing to learn," freshman RT Justin Frye told the Indianapolis Star.
After the Hoosiers get through this game at Minnesota, they have two potential competitive games on the horizon vs. Illinois and at Penn State. If the offensive line can give LoVecchio and McFarland just a little more time, they could have a shot at winning either or both of those games.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Hoosiers need their offense to maintain possession of the ball and keep it away from Minnesota ... or this game could get out of hand very early. Brian Lewis and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are both decent backs who have had a few good moments this year. Lewis is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has the quickness to dart through a hole and into the secondary. The passing game has been disappointing this year and Matt LoVecchio appears to be a bit gun shy at this point. If he can't play, Graeme McFarland should do a competent job. He is coming off a 6-of-6 performance against Ohio State.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense has been soft and might have been at its worst against Ohio State, which romped to a whopping 603 yards last week. LBs Josh Moore and Kyle Killion both have speed and range, but most of their tackles are too far downfield to make a difference.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think if we continue to work together that eventually we'll get it all figured out. We take a lot of pride in what we do, and when Matt is unable to set his feet and make the right throws, that is very frustrating for us. But I think in time we're going to be a pretty good offensive line." — Indiana LT Isaac Sowells on what the offensive line needs to do in the next four games.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Indiana at Minnesota, Nov. 1 — The Gophers have an explosive offense and may make short work of the Hoosiers. Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney key the Minnesota running attack, but QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq continues to play extremely well. The Hoosiers will try to slow down the running game, but they simply don't have the athleticism to hold the Minnesota running game in check for long.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Brian Lewis — After running for just 20 yards on nine carries against Ohio State, Lewis should find a bit of room against a Minnesota defense that is not as tough as the Buckeyes. Lewis has quickness and acceleration to get through small holes. He is averaging 4.4 yards a carry and has rushed for 398 yards and three touchdowns.
P Tyson Beattie — He is averaging 40.2 yards per punt this season and is coming off his best game of the year. He averaged 44 yards per punt against the Buckeyes.
INJURY IMPACT: Starting quarterback Matt LoVecchio (concussion) is questionable for Saturday's game against Minnesota. Linebacker Josh Moore (knee) is probable. Offensive lineman Brandon Hatcher (leg) and defensive back Will Lumpkin (knee) are expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Up next: Indiana
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