It’s hard to win at Indiana.
USA Today recently ranked the Hoosiers’ football coaching job as the sixth-toughest job in sports.
Kevin Wilson can attest. He’s 11-27 in three-plus seasons with a 5-19 record in Big Ten play.
Indiana lacks a signature win on Wilson’s watch, but Saturday presents an opportunity to make a statement and show progress.
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For more on the matchup with the Hoosiers, here’s a Q&A with Indianapolis Star beat writer David Woods. Follow him on Twitter and read his work before a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Memorial Stadium:
Question: How will Indiana contend with Missouri’s pass rush, particularly defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden?
Woods: “Indiana inevitably will rely on quick dropbacks and passes to what is a group of fleet receivers. The Hoosiers don’t have a ground-and-pound attack but are usually effective in running out of their spread. Although he is no runner, quarterback Nate Sudfeld has been surprisingly nimble in eluding the rush and turning those plays into plus yardage.”
Q: What has fueled Tevin Coleman’s ridiculous start to the season and what’s a realistic expectation for him against Missouri?
Woods: “If he were at any school other than Indiana, Coleman would be a Heisman Trophy candidate. Dating to last year, the NCAA rushing leader has gained 652 yards in three games, a school record. Bowling Green stuffed him early last week, holding him to nine yards on his first nine carries. Then he gained 181 on his next 15 carries, including touchdowns of 28, 46 and 31 yards. He is operating behind an experienced offensive line, too, but Indiana didn’t gain many rushing yards until it started sending plays wide.”
Q: Despite the loss, how encouraging was Nate Sudfeld’s performance (31 of 41 for 347 yards with a touchdown plus two rushing touchdowns)? Are the Hoosiers more balanced on offense than they are given credit for?
Woods: “Sudfeld was virtually flawless at Bowling Green: accurate passes, good decisions. That’s why it was a such a brutal loss. Your QB is perfect and your future NFL running back gains nearly 200 yards … and you still lose. Up-tempo offenses are usually associated with passing teams, but Indiana does run it well out of that formation. Backup running back D’Angelo Roberts has been a complement to Coleman.”
Q: Maty Mauk leads the nation in touchdowns (12) and averages 13.5 yards per completion. Is Indiana’s pass rush or secondary going to be more critical in trying to slow him down?
Woods: Indiana had no pass rush at Bowling Green. Indiana’s secondary is not populated by All-Americans, either. Pass rushers will need to apply some pressure on Mauk, even if they never sack him. But Indiana’s defense reverted to its hopeless, hapless ways at Bowling Green. It was a big setback for the 3-4 scheme introduced by new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. In the second half alone, Bowling Green had 63 plays, 27 first downs, 375 yards and five touchdowns.”