4 keys to the game against Bowling Green

1. Pressure Knapke: Bowling Green was picked to finish atop the East Division of the Mid-American Conference in large part thanks to the return of quarterback Matt Johnson, who threw for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns during the Falcons’ MAC title season a year ago. But Johnson is sidelined for the year with a hip injury, opening the door for Fort Wayne Native James Knapke under center. The redshirt sophomore is a former Luers standout, who was at one point on Indiana’s radar. Where Johnson was a true dual-threat quarterback, Knapke is more of a true pocket passer. BG coach Dino Babers admitted earlier this week that team is throwing Knapke into a crash course in order to learn the Falcons’ no-huddle offense on the fly. Indiana didn’t try to show many of its new blitz packages in the opener, but a good pass rush could disrupt the inexperienced Knapke and force a few much-needed turnovers in a road environment.

2. Limit Greene and Coppet: No matter who is under center for Bowling Green, the Falcons possess a strong backfield duo in Travis Greene and Fred Coppet. While 58 percent of the Falcons’ yards and 56 percent of their first downs have come through the air, the team has seven rushing touchdowns against two passing. Greene was named a first team preseason All-MAC running back by Sporting News, Athlon and Phil Steele after setting the school record with 1,594 rushing yards a year ago. “It starts with a really good running game, two backs that are pretty good, averaging over 100 a game,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “Freddie Coppet (is) a guy we offered and wanted here and he chose to go there, so I don’t want to hear the deal that they’ve got the MAC players we didn’t want because there are guys on their team that we offered and recruited, yet they chose to go there, so I don’t want to hear that stuff about it’s a chip‑on‑the‑shoulder week.”

3. Attack the Bowling Green secondary: For one of the top 10 defenses in the nation last season, Bowling Green is playing truly poor football on that side of the ball through its first two games. Yes, it’s a small sample size skewed at least partially by a season-opener that saw the Falcons yield 708 yards to Western Kentucky. But there appear to be large holes in a BG secondary that is struggling to stop the pass. Free safety Ryland Ward is the lone returning starter in a backfield that is allowing an average of 445 yards through the air. The Hoosiers have had two weeks to work on getting quarterback Nate Sudfeld on the same page with a talented, but inexperienced, group of receivers. This might be a good time to get them going.

4. Don’t forget about Coleman: While attacking a Bowling Green secondary that has been nothing short of porous, the Hoosiers shouldn’t forget about Tevin Coleman. The Indiana running back showed his value to the program in the opener, when he ran for a career-high 247 yards. That opening performance from IU was virtually dedicated to establishing the run, as the Hoosiers took what Indiana State gave them with its soft coverage over the top. Indiana ran the ball a whopping 69 times in that game, and while they likely won’t come close to replicating that mark against Bowling Green, the Hoosiers need to continue giving Coleman a steady dose of carries. He’s an NFL-caliber back, who may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten right now. If Indiana continues to keep him involved in the game plan moving forward, it will be rewarded with a balanced offensive attack that could again rank among the best in the conference.