Looking back over the first three games, Indiana has fixed some things that had people worried after the season opener. The fear after week one was that the defense wasn’t ready and that they were going to let the Hoosiers down this season. WRONG. Yes, Indiana gave up 28 points to an FIU team (that went 8-4 in the regular season last year, for the record), but since then have only gave up 16 points in a monsoon vs Virginia, and then held Ball State to 10 points in week three. The Hoosiers have yet to give up more than 350 yards of total offense this season, which is a good sign even despite the competition they have faced. Week one featured lots of IU broken coverages and missed tackles, but things have tightened up recently, thank goodness. With a win tomorrow, the Hoosiers move to 4-0 and will definitely start receiving top 25 votes, if not sneaking into the rankings. Then in week five they head out east to take on Rutgers (whom I can confidentally say are bad at football). If the Hoosiers take care of business there, your Indiana Hoosiers head to Columbus, Ohio for an undefeated, top 25 matchup against the Buckeyes. Lets analyze what needs to happen this week to get to that point.
• Ramsey has had a fantastic start to the year, tossing for roughly 73% and only throwing two interceptions. The receivers have done their part as well. Hale, Westbrook, Timian, Hendershot (TE), and Whop all have proven what they can do. These guys HAVE to win their matchups against Sparty. The Michigan State d-line is very good, so winning any 1-on-1 matchup will be crucial so Ramsey can get the ball out of his hands quickly. Ramsey may need to get creative with his legs this week more than he has in any other game this season as well. The pressure that the defense will put on him will be the strongest he has faced this season, how he reacts will determine this game. Look for Hale to be a big target for Ramsey.
• These MSU receivers are very, very good. Cody White and Felton Davis III are going to be tough to cover, but IU has to limit their production if they are going to win. Lewerke is good, yes, but he can make mistakes and IU needs to capatilize on any mistake that he makes. This means, no dropped INTs, recovering a strip sack, etc. The IU secondary will have to be locked in from the start and not have any drop-off in production when second stringers come in to give the starters a breather.
• The O-Line will be vital to this win, both pass protecting and run blocking. This will be their first big test of the season, and if they can protect Ramsey and give a crease for Stevie and other running backs, IU has a good shot at a win. Stevie Scott has to make a guy miss and turn some 4-yard gains into a 10-15 yard gain. The rush has to be respected in order to open up passing lanes for Ramsey and the recievers. Get Stevie is space and let him do his thing. Especially in the red zone, where they can let Stevie carry defenders into the end zone. Ride the big fella and let him continue his remarkable freshman season.
• If you know me, you knew I was going to touch on this before kickoff, and it will always be in my head as I watch from the student-section. Last year, IU wins if DeBord doesn’t screw it up calling plays. IF he doesn’t call THREE STRAIGHT QB DRAWS for a 3-and-out possession, I don’t lose my mind. Yet, he thought that would be a good idea. The play-calling has been better this year and this must continue. Two years ago when IU won, the pass from Mitchell Paige to Lagow sent Memorial into a frenzy. Something crazy needs to happen again this year. Whether it be regarding Ramsey, Penix, or Reese Taylor throwing his first TD of the year, something HUGE will happen this year. IU needs a fast start paired with a crazy play to maximize this game potential. DeBord can’t have any regrets and shouldn’t hold anything back.
The last time I was at this game in 2016, I ended up on the field with the rest of Memorial Stadium, going wild with the rest of the Hoosier Faithful. The weather is looking favorable for a cool but nice night for rowdy students and fans to cheer the boys in Crimson onto their second victory in three years, and to get the Old Brass Spittoon back in B-Town. GO HOOSIERS!
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