Thursday, October 8, 2009

game preview: Indiana

Date/Time: October 10, 3:30 PM

TV: ESPN360, which isn't really TV

Last matchup: Never

Last week: UVA 16, UNC 3; OSU 33, IU 14

Line: UVA by 6.5 (!)

Opposing blogs: The Crimson Quarry

Injury report:

(coming tomorrow)

So I've spent all week trying to decide which angle to go with for this preview. Is this a toilet-bowl matchup of two assed-out teams trying to decide which one is going to miss bowl eligibility by a slimmer margin? Most of the rest of the country seems to think so, hence the relegation to ESPN360 among other indignities. Or maybe we're on our way to showing we're not that bad, and Indiana is the crap team they've been since forever and we should stomp them but good. Or maybe, heaven forbid, it's the other way round, although that last was never under consideration for use in this article. Anyway, I still haven't decided.

Regardless, though, this is a must-win. Maybe the mustest-win on the whole schedule. Maybe ever. In history. My reasons are a lot more selfish than "Al Groh's on the hot seat," mind you. See, I have this cousin. He's good people. And his college football fanhood followed much the same track as mine: grow up worshiping one team, then go to a different school and simply add that school to the pedestal. I grew up rooting for Michigan. My cousin? He grew up in Ohio. And he's the kind of guy who thinks a bottle opener that plays the OSU fight song when you open a bottle is the perfect Christmas gift for a Michigan fan. So you can imagine what holiday dinners have been like. We have been banned from discussing this subject at the dinner table. Literally. Shut up, we have been told. Car rides have been made miserable for other family members. And you might have guessed by now that my cousin is an Indiana grad. Which, of course my brother would go to Purdue so that these get-togethers would be just that much more interesting. Anyway, we have to win, otherwise Christmas is going to suck.


- Press coverage from the cornerbacks. When airing it out, Indiana favors a dink-and-dunk passing attack that relies on a high completion percentage, and they throw primarily to wide receivers Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher. We have three excellent cornerbacks that have plenty of athleticism, and IU's offense is similar to UNC's in this respect, so there's no reason to lay off with soft coverage. Have Dowling, Cook, and Minnifield get up in their grill and take away the short game.

- Heavy doses of Mikell Simpson. Just like last week. Michigan gashed Indiana something fierce in the running game. Or, more specifically and correctly, Michigan's Carlos Brown gashed Indiana something fierce. Brown carried 11 times for 83 yards - a sparkling 7.5 ypc - and Michigan's running plays look a lot like ours did against UNC, as both are run out of the shotgun. (Michigan uses more zone read, but the end result, if it's a handoff, is the same.) And Carlos Brown and Simpson are very, very similar running backs. We can rack up some rushing yards the same way Michigan - and incidentally, Ohio State with Brandon Saine - did. I'd like to see a little more Torrey Mack too so that Simpson doesn't disintegrate in November, but regardless Simpson is a weapon we should lean on this Saturday.

- If the wide receivers could get open, that'd be sweet, so that Jameel Sewell doesn't have to dance aimlessly in the pocket and make previously unknown defensive ends look like superstuds.


- Indiana has some reasonably frightful running backs and a pretty creative running game to the outside. If the outside linebackers have a subpar game, IU's Darius Willis has a sneaky second gear and a way of running away from people that results in long running plays.

- Frankly, IU's defense is pretty nondescript, but they're good enough to make bad teams have bad days. Western Michigan put up all of 22 rushing yards on them. But as implied above, they're also bad enough to let good teams have good days. So our performance is entirely on us, and Southern Miss aside, we have yet to reach the 20's in the points department. If we don't get any offense, we're in for a struggle no matter what the defense does, and yes, our offense is definitely bad enough to lose us this game.

- Turnovers. Notice what happened last week when we ceased handing free possessions to the other team. Are we actually through with that William & Mary, 7-turnover bullshit? Or are we just going to be a turnover-ridden team this year? This is a good game to find out, because the one turnover answer we do have is that the offense isn't going to rack up enough yardage to overcome stupid turnovers, so going forward, you can consider this a pretty standard item. Yes, "don't turn the ball over" is good advice for any team that wants to win a game, but it's more than good advice for us - it's an essential.


Well, ESPN's Heather picked us last week and we vindicated her, as she likes to remind you (hey, she was the only one. She's got bragging rights) and she's sticking with it this week. I feel obligated to mention it because there has to be some kind of good luck charm running around somewhere and this might very well be it. I haven't picked us to win since Week 1 and we all know how that turned out, but this week I'm joining Heather in the Go Us category. The defense, too, is starting to get a little ESPN-style love and they use some very sabermetricy numbers to bear that out, so it's not just blabbermouthing. Indiana is an unspectacular team that is good at several things but not really outstanding at anything. This is an improvement over the Indiana that everyone knows and loves to have for Homecoming so that the alums can enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon and write big checks to the football team, but I think we match up well against them. We're coming off a feel-good win, it's our own Homecoming, and Anthony Poindexter is getting his big day - the fans should be feeling a lot less mutinous than they were to start the TCU game. I think we'll win this game. It might actually be closer than the UNC game, and it will almost certainly be just as low-scoring. Our offense and defense are the worst and best units on the field, respectively, and I don't think either team will make the 20-point mark. But I think we'll get the win.


Boston College at Virginia Tech, 12:00
North Carolina vs. Georgia Southern, 3:30
Duke at NC State, 4:00
Maryland at Wake Forest, 6:30
Miami vs. Florida A&M, 7:00
Georgia Tech at Florida State, 8:00


dj said...

I haven't watched Indiana at all but you seem to have. How do you think our O-Line will stack up? Landon Bradley was absolutely horrendous last game. Does Indiana have a pass rush??

Brendan said...

Yeah, Indiana can get after it pretty well on the pass rush. By this time though I just sort of take it for granted that our line will struggle to protect the quarterback. Sewell's gonna get dirty again but I just operate under that assumption and move on.