The Hoosiers have the nation's leading rusher and own a road win over a ranked SEC opponent. And yet they are winless in the Big Ten (0-4) and, due to a key injury, now have what may be THE worst passing game in the nation.
How do you scout an opponent like that?
By going to an expert, of course. Or in this instance, THE expert.
Terry Hutchens is a longtime Indiana beat writer and the publisher of our Scout.com sister site, AllHoosiers.com. We hit Hutch with five pressing questions. You can see his answers below.
IU’s defense came through vs. Mizzou.
1. I know it was a while ago, but how did Indiana lose to Bowling Green one week and then beat a ranked Missouri outfit on the road the following week?
TH: It was simply the difference between the defense showing up and finding a way to get Missouri off the field one week and having no clue the week before. It really did look like two different defensive teams. Against Bowling Green, the Falcons had five second-half scoring drives and all of them had at least 10 plays. Have you ever heard of an offense running 113 offensive plays before? Bowling Green did that day -- 113 plays for 571 yards. It was unbelievable. And each of those second-half scoring drives went at least 75 yards. Against Missouri, the defense looked like a completely different unit. They were flying around and making plays. They had 11 tackles for loss and numerous pressures. They held Missouri 14 points under its season average.
2. Why has RB Tevin Coleman been so effective, even with IU's recent injury issues at quarterback?
TH: What makes Coleman so effective is that he can have 10 carries for 12 yards and then break something for 60. He's always a big play ready to happen. He's had five touchdown runs this year of over 40 yards. He just gets out and goes. The offensive line has had something to do with it, but Coleman has just been running really hard and running north and south. Last week against Michigan, in an attempt to mix things up with the quarterback situation the way it is, they used him in the Wildcat a little bit. He hasn't thrown a pass out of the Wildcat and claims he has never attempted a pass from the running back spot at any level. The most impressive thing about Coleman is that he hasn't just posted big stats against bad defenses, but rather he has put up big numbers against teams like Missouri, Michigan State and Iowa. Against those three teams, he ran for 483 yards this season.
Losing Sudfeld hurt.
3. Is the QB situation (and the passing game in general) there as bad as recent statistics suggest?
TH: Oh yeah. Big time bad. Here's the crazy part. Last year IU had a weekly quarterback controversy. Would it be Nate Sudfeld or Tre Roberson, back and forth, back and forth. The third guy, Cameron Coffman, had started at QB the year before. Now, IU has gone from that state at quarterback to having to start a true freshman in Zander Diamont who was expected to redshirt this year before Sudfeld got hurt. Roberson is at Indiana State and having a big year there. Coffman is redshirting this season at Wyoming and Sudfeld went down against Iowa with the shoulder injury and is done for the year. Diamont was a hot shot California QB who was supposed to have a gun for an arm and better than average ability to run. Everyone around the program says he tears it up in practice and then can't translate it to the field. He has no rhythm, no confidence and misses a lot of throws. And he doesn't seem to ever go very far into a progression. If his first option isn't there he just doesn't seem to get to the next one. His best play is handing the ball to Coleman and hoping he does something. The most difficult thing is that it looked like his backup might be a better option. That was Nate Boudreau. But he suffered a sprained shoulder last week at Michigan in his one and only series and never returned. He has been limited in practice this week. If Diamont were to go down the backup right now is Cam Cameron's kid, Danny Cameron, who came to camp as the No. 6 quarterback and was signed in August. It's not a pretty situation. Had Diamont gotten pulled after three quarters in his first start at home against Michigan State, he would have had negative yards passing. Lucky for him, he completed a 13-yard out route in the fourth quarter to finish 5-of-15 for 11 yards.
Leading tackler Antonio Allen (40).
4. The Hoosiers are giving up a lot of points, especially against Big Ten opponents. What are the primary problems there?
TH: The pressure on the quarterback has been suspect, IU can't turn anyone over, and with too much time the secondary has gotten consistently beat. IU moved to a 3-4 this year and to some extent I think they're trying to play a 3-4 with 4-3 personnel. The crazy thing is that, yes they've given up a lot of points, but they are considerably better than they were a year ago. Considerably. It hasn't showed on the scoreboard though because of the lack of pressure on the quarterback. So that will be an interesting thing to watch this week if Penn State is prone to giving up a bunch of sacks and IU is a team that can't put any pressure on the quarterback. That will probably be a big key to the game if IU is to have any chance at winning.
5. With a 13-31 overall record and just five Big Ten wins in three-plus seasons, is Kevin Wilson on any kind of hot seat?
TH: In most places, the answer would be a definitive yes. But this is a program that has been to one bowl game since 1994. The expectations are just different. And the reality is that Wilson has won more games each season before this one and in his defense if Sudfeld doesn't get hurt I think this team gets to a bowl game. I think they beat Michigan last week and they would probably be favored against Penn State, too. But when you not only lose someone like Sudfeld, but then replace him with a guy that simply hasn't moved the offense at all in two games, it's hard to win football games. Wilson has the support of the administration and I don't really think his seat is all that warm. That's just one man's opinion.