4 storylines for Indiana’s game at Northwestern

1. Using the pass to set up the run
It might be time for a change in approach. Indiana has struggled to find sustained rushing success, especially in recent weeks. So perhaps it might benefit the Hoosiers to try setting up the running lanes via their passing game. Of course, IU needs consistent offensive line play to succeed in both areas, but if it gets that from the guys up front, a different style of attack could shake Indiana from its offensive funk. The Hoosiers averaged only 2.9 yards per carry against Nebraska last week

2. Take some shots
Whether it’s used primarily to aid the running game or to secure more explosive gains, the Indiana passing attack should feature heavily in Evanston. Northwestern’s secondary has been prone to yielding big gains through the air during its first six games. The Wildcats are allowing a Big Ten-worst 276.3 yards per game to go along with 7.4 yards per passing attempt. Just as concerning is the fact that opponents are completing 65.6 percent of their passes. This could be a day to ask Richard Lagow to take control early and often.

3. IU’s ability to handle Northwestern weapons
Justin Jackson and Austin Carr — no, not that Austin Carr — may not be household names across the Big Ten, but they’re two of the league’s best players at their positions. Jackson leads the conference in rushing yards (698), rushing yards per game (116.3) and is second in the conference in all-purpose yards (131.33). Carr seems to catch everything thrown in his direction. He has 11 more catches (43), 129 more receiving yards (595), and two more touchdown receptions (eight) than anyone in the Big Ten.

4. Could this be Feeney’s week?
The effects of a concussion sustained on Sept. 10 have forced Feeney to miss the past 18-plus quarters. The good news is that the All-American returned to practice this week and, barring any setbacks, seems close to returning to the field. His return would buoy a developing line, one that has struggled at times to keep Lagow on his feet and safe in the pocket, while also struggling to give the running game the openings it requires. Feeney, alone, won’t fix the offense, but his return would go a long way toward making this unit look like the Hoosiers of old.

5 comments

  1. Technique and tenacity can make up for personnel deficiencies in a FBS defensive unit. The players and leadership of Tom Allen have done a great job so far this season. Unfortunately, it’s not so simple on offense. IU’s inability to successfully attract or even keep top level talent has caught up with them. Wilson and his staff are currently near the bottom in recruiting for the 2017 BIG class. While KW has a knack of finding pearls in the bellies of catfish (last minute transfer of Jordan Howard) and developing average players, this is not a formula for sustainable success. Unless Indiana gets to a point (they should already be there) wherein they can recruit 4* players head to head with the likes of Bobby Patrino at Louisville, Stoops at KY and the likes of MSU, Penn St, even Maryland,… their fortunes will diminish and then disappear. Quoting Urban Meyer earlier this year in an interview with G DiNardo, “if a coach can’t recruit, I can’t use him”.

  2. Yes, it plays itself out overall. It is pretty much simple math. K.W. and staff try but even a year or two when recruiting class ranked a little higher several or most of the 4 star recruits did not pan out via transfers especially at qb, got in trouble, injuries when playing at IU, and when healed left early for NFL after success at IU for part of a year or two. Simply a lack of respect for program and that has kept wins at a peak of 50 percent. That devalued the one or two times when recruiting class started out as ranked a little higher. The reason that K.W. and staff do not look good is often due to trying to make something good happen with the lack of talent they have. Players just do not quite have the ability level to execute as much as players on teams at the top half or even in the middle of the pack. Over time it all plays itself out to a peak of 50 percent win loss ball and then rebuilding at different positions starts all over again. There is always deficits at some positions. Very rare do IU players make the same kinds of plays that Myer and Harbaugh like players make to make those coaches look great. Hardly ever does IU talent wise and physically ever dominate unless they are playing inferior competition and certainly hardly ever at the big ten level.

  3. Chonny, the rankings don’t really tell the talent of players and IU is hurt by not having as many scholarships this year. Also don’t forget that coach Wilson usually brings in players near to the signing date. Don’t forget the 2012 class was ranked very low and yet two OL were all-American players [Feeney is still here] and the class also included Coleman along with a couple of very good WR.

    The players now committed are very good players and should be ranked higher than 3 star.

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