Thursday, August 29, 2013
Indiana hits gas pedal in opening win
By Brian Bennett
All offseason, we figured the Indiana offense had a chance to be explosively good, maybe one of the best in school history. Well, it didn't take long for the Hoosiers to start rewriting the record book.
By blasting Indiana State 73-35 in the season opener, Kevin Wilson's team scored its most points ever at home and the second-most ever by an IU squad, trailing only a 76-point performance in 1901. Thursday night's showing included 10 touchdowns, the final one coming by the third-string offense with more than 10 minutes left in the game. Wilson had his team take a knee late inside the Indiana State 10 rather than go for the all-time record.
(Here's where we issue the obvious caveat that Indiana State is a FCS team, and not a particularly strong one at that. It should have been a blowout. Still, Indiana had to hold off the Sycamores 24-17 last year, so the improvement is readily apparent.)
The quarterback question that hung over the Hoosiers during the summer was seemingly answered when Tre Roberson got the start. Playing for the first time since he broke his leg in Week 2 last year, Roberson threw two touchdown passes in his first seven attempts. But he came out in the first quarter after just four possessions in favor of Nate Sudfeld, and Roberson never returned. Sudfeld played the majority of the game, tossing touchdown passes on his first two attempts and finishing 12-of-17 for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Cameron Coffman also got in before the first half was over and played again late.
Is this Sudfeld's job now, or does Roberson keep starting? Tune in next week.
The bigger story, though, might have been the play of running back Tevin Coleman. Wilson had talked up Coleman during the preseason, and the sophomore showed why by running for 169 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. He glides through the hole and looks like a potential future star.
Shane Wynn also added three touchdowns, including a 58-yard punt return. But he had to leave the game when Indiana State's Carlos Aviles delivered a vicious, above-the-shoulder hit when Wynn was trying to field another punt. Aviles was ejected from the game as part of the new targeting rule; we'll have to wait and see on Wynn's health status.
Even with all the points, Wilson has plenty of ways to get his team's attention in the film room. His young defense played well for several drives after surrendering an early touchdown. But the Sycamores scored twice in the final 19 seconds of the first half, moving down the field for a touchdown pass and then scooping up a fumbled kickoff return by Laray Smith. Sudfeld was also picked off for a touchdown on the third play of the second half, cutting the score to 45-28. Offensive lineman Jake Reed also got ejected in the first half for throwing a punch in a boneheaded move.
Those are the kinds of errors Indiana simply can't afford to make when the competition gets much better, which will happen next week when Navy comes to Bloomington. This Hoosiers' offense can cover up a lot of problems, but it won't score with such breath-taking ease going forward. Still, as opening night showed, Indiana is going to be a fun team to watch this year.