Fresh from a bye and staring at the crossroads of their season, the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2) will attempt a feat no previous Hoosier football team has accomplished--beating Penn State (3-1). When IU hosts the Nittany Lions on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the Hoosiers will try to break a 16 game losing streak to their Big Ten brethren from the Keystone state.
In order for that to happen, the Hoosiers will have to tighten the defensive screws that have seen teams ran roughshod on them through the season's first quarter. IU head coach Kevin Wilson says the the team's focus during the bye was trying to improve. “We’ve looked very hard just conceptually to make sure that what we’re doing, our kids understand our calls, our alignments and where to go and how to play the structure of the defense right,” Wilson said. “I don’t think we’ve played structurally sound and as clean as we need to. And I think, again, you go through and you got some young guys and you want to do some things to, quote, take advantage or sometimes maybe even disguise what you can’t do. If you’re not careful, you overscheme. And so to me we’ve had significant amount of miscommunication, misalignment, and we’re not as sound as we need to be, versus we’re getting totally blocked all the time.”
To further illustrate Wilson's points, Indiana ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten defending the run. The Hoosiers are allowing nearly 248-yards per rush.
Offensively, IU needs to get back on track after a subpar outing against Missouri when the offensive line was manhandled by an athletic Missouri front. Hoosiers sophomore QB Nate Sudfled was forced out of sync with consistent pressure before giving away to Tre Roberson in the second game. Expect Wilson to stick with Sudfeld, recognizing the best bet for the Hoosiers to win comes with the talented Sudfeld on the field.
The Hoosiers will also hope to help their beleaguered defense by keeping control of the clock. IU's running game stalled once they fell behind Missouri, but truth be told, Wilson needs more from backs Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston.
Penn State brings a balanced attack to Bloomington. WR Allen Robinson is a playmaker who burned the Hoosiers last year in Happy Valley with three touchdowns. Robinson ranks second in the Big Ten with 26 catches for 448 yards. Wlison calls him one of the nation's most underrated receivers. He’s a quality complete football player receiver. There might be faster guys, there might be bigger guys, but when he puts it all together, he’s one of the better receivers in the country.”
Extra Points: On the health beat, guard Bernard Taylor continues to recover from an ankle injury, and has returned to practice. Wilson says Taylor will have to beat out Jake Reed to return for the starting lineup....Offensive tackle Peyton Eckert is still slowed by a preseason back injury. He's working out on a limited basis, but could explore a medical redshirt. Eckert has yet to play a down this season...Included in Penn State's mastery over IU is six victories at Memorial Stadium....Second-year Penn State coach Bill O'Brien O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record (6-2 Big Ten) in 2012 and owns an overall mark of 11-5 (.688)...Saturday is Indiana’s fifth straight home game to open the season. The Hoosiers will host eight contests overall for just the second time in program history (2008)...IU’s staff and players will “go pink” in support of breast cancer awareness on Saturday....Cornerback Tim Bennett ranks first nationally with 10 pass breakups. Bennett is also tied for 11th in the Big Ten with 7.0 tackles per game and shares fourth with his one fumble recovery....Mitch Ewald is Indiana’s all-time kicking scoring leader with 263 points. Ewald is now third all-time overall in that category. He is first on IU’s career list with 128 extra points and third in field goals (45).