Still stinging from a disappointing home loss to Navy in which the Indiana University defense gave up over 400 rushing yards, the Hoosiers will try to bounce back Saturday against a solid Bowling Green (2-0) squad.
Saturday's contest at Memorial Stadium, IU's third consecutive home game, pits the Hoosiers high-powered offense against a stiff Falcons defense that has limited two opponents (11-win teams Tulsa and Kent State) to a combined 29 points.
While IU rates among the leaders nationally in scoring and total offense, defense has proved to be the achilles heel. In last week's 41-35 defeat to the Midshipmen, Indiana didn't force a punt all game and allowed Navy huge chunks of yardage.
In Bowling Green, the Hoosiers will face an efficient offense led by quarterback Matt Johnson. Johnson completed 19-of-25 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons' 41-22 victory over Mid-American Conference rival Kent State last week. Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson praised Johnson for his efforts. “Matt just executed the offense very well,” Clawson said during the MAC teleconference. “He’s made some plays with his feet that have really helped us. That’s a dimension I think he’s given the offense that maybe we didn’t have as much of or what we needed. We’re running our offense. We haven’t adjusted it much or changed it with him starting.”
Indiana has an effective trigger man as well. Sophomore QB Nate Sudfeld appears to have grabbed the starting position with two strong outings, including a career-high career day against Navy with 31 completions in 42 attempts for 363 passing yards and 398 total yards, to go along with four touchdowns, matching the career-high he set in week one.
Tight end Ted Bolser has been a frequent target of Sudfeld's. The senior ranks in the top five nationally in several categories, including touchdowns (4) and receptions (11) through the schedule's first two weeks.
But the focus will shift to the defense Saturday as beleaguered IU co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory tries to patch up a leaky unit that has more than its share of holes. The pass rush is sporadic and the tackling inconsistent at best. Unless the Hoosiers can find the secret sauce they'll be doomed to repeat the same failures as previous years. It won't be easy against a Bowling Green squad that may be primed for a big season. “This will be a very big challenge for our defense,” Clawson said. “We’re going to find out a lot more about our defense this week because this is certainly a different style than we’ve faced. We’re on the road in a Big Ten stadium playing against a Big Ten football team. These guys move the ball against anybody.”
The real question though is, can IU stop anyone?
Extra Points: Clawson is 24-28 (.462) in his fifth season as head coach at Bowling Green. Clawson owns an overall mark of 82-77 (.516) with previous stops at Richmond (2004-07) and Fordham (1999-2003)....With 108 points scored in the first two games, Indiana has set a program record for most points in consecutive games, surpassing the previous mark of 106, which was set in 1943 and 1945...IU leads the country with 10 touchdown passes, tops the Big Ten in scoring (54.0-8th nationally) and passing efficiency (181.2-13th), and ranks second in the league in passing (341.0-13th) and total offense (556.5-16th)....Indiana's fifth-year senior TE Ted Bolser was named John Mackey Tight End of the Week. Bolser hauled in a pair of touchdowns for the second time in as many games in 2013, to go along with five receptions and 56 yards against Navy.One of 37 tight ends on the Mackey Preseason Watch List, Bolser shares the top spot nationally with four touchdown catches. The Cincinnati native’s scores are first, 11 catches are tied for second and 134 yards are third among tight ends in the country.Bolser, who earned a spot on the Mackey Preseason Watch List for the third straight season, owns the program record for tight ends with 13 touchdowns and ranks second with 93 receptions and 1,151 yards.