Indiana having so much upheaval at quarterback this season is really a shame for the program because I do think it's getting closer to respectability. There's just not much margin for error when rebuilding, and quarterback is the last place the Hoosiers can afford to be nonfunctional given their hurry-up spread offense.
With a mega-talented running back like Tevin Coleman, the offense can be pretty good even with just a passing game that can move the chains on third-and-medium or occasionally pick up five yards on first down to punish teams from ganging up on the running game. With veteran starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld injured, the Hoosiers don't have that.
True freshman Zander Diamont has flashed some decent wheels when he keeps it on the zone read or is forced to scramble, but he isn't very accurate and doesn't seem to have an overly strong arm or great grasp of the offense. He is likely to develop over time, but he's clearly not ready to play at this level yet, nor should he really be expected to be. He also hasn't gotten a lot of help from the receiving corps outside of Shane Wynn, a senior speedster from Cleveland Glenville who has more than twice as many catches and nearly three times as many receiving yards as anyone else on the squad this season.
Wynn is the real deal as far as his ability to get open, make people miss and straight up outrun people. He's been a productive guy there most of his career, and it's not hard to see why. He could contribute at Ohio State.
Coleman is not just one of the best running backs in the Big Ten but the nation (which almost goes without saying this year considering who joins him at the top of the conference). He's a long strider at 6-1 and built solidly at 210 pounds. He really glides when he runs and is very smooth in his acceleration. He reminds me of Robert Smith. He's a speed back with good power who will go the distance if he gets a crease. Coleman has 11 runs of 40 yards or more this season, second only to Melvin Gordon's 15 for the national lead.
Indiana's offensive line is solid, particularly for this program where building depth has been a problem. An encouraging sign for the Hoosiers is they only start one senior, Collin Rahrig, who appears to be the best of the bunch. Pass protection is a problem at times, particularly in obvious passing situations such as late against Rutgers. A freshman quarterback can contribute to this as well by holding the ball too long.
Defensively Indiana isn't the same doormat it has been for much of recent history, but the Hoosiers are still a couple of pieces away. They also don't make many big plays to supplement their overall play, so mistakes and breakdowns become more glaring.
The 3-4 defense has a solid front with Darius Latham and Bobby Richardson both standouts on film while I continue to really like T.J. Simmons, a sophomore who starts at middle linebacker. Simmons is the leading tackler and Richardson leads in sacks. Nate Hoff of Solon, Ohio, is listed as a co-starter Ralph Green III at nose guard. I was impressed with Green last season, but Hoff leads the team with eight tackles for loss.
In the secondary, Tim Bennett is a fighter at one cornerback spot who will win some and lose some. Redshirt freshman Chase Dutra isn't listed as a starter at strong safety, but against Michigan he flashed some ability to make plays when he got a chance. The rest aren't much to write home about, though sophomore Antonio Allen had a couple of moments against Michigan.
Football Outsiders rates the Hoosiers front pretty well on standard downs and in short-yardage situations, but their numbers also show the struggles in rushing the passer. The overall FO numbers show a defense that is weakest on passing downs, which comes as no surprise.
They are fairly basic defensively but will mix in some blitzes that weren't very effective in the games I watched. Both Michigan and Rutgers were able to break some things in the fourth quarter to wipe away decent defensive efforts, though neither of those are great offenses, either.
Kicker Griffin Oakes has missed four of 12 field goals in Big Ten play, but he has a powerful leg. Any doubt about that was removed when he hit a 58-yarder earlier this season. Punter Eric Toth has a 64-yarder this year but is 10th in the Big Ten in net punting average at 39.8 yards.
Overall progress has been gradual under coach Kevin Wilson, but there has been some even if it hasn't shown in the record this season.
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