What: Georgia Southern @ Indiana
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
When: 3:30 PM EST
TV: Big Ten Network
Stream: Fox Sports Go
That sound you hear is the sound of Eagle nation muttering prayers to their respective deities ahead of this Saturday’s clash in Bloomington with the Indiana Hoosiers. Due to Hurricane Irma the Georgia Southern football team won’t play its first home game until Wednesday, October 4 vs. Arkansas State. That’s a full month plus of road games to start the season if you count the Birmingham blunder.
So what should Eagle fans expect? I certainly was not afraid of Indiana at the start of the season. I circled this match-up on the calendar as a possible victory for the Eagles. Certainly we could compete with a middle class Big Ten team right? Did you see what USF and NIU did to two Big Ten teams last weekend? Was it wrong of me to dream?
What’s a Hoosier anyways?
For years Indiana football has lived in the shadow of the school’s basketball program. Very similar to the way things work at Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UNC, etc. But recently Indiana football has begun to turn it around. After four seasons at the helm, in 2015 former head coach Kevin Wilson lead the Hoosiers to their first bowl game since 2007. They lost the Pinstripe Bowl to Duke (fans must have gone to MSG just purely out of habit) and finished 6-7.
That triggered a contract extension worth $2.55 million per year (this will be important later). Wilson followed up ’15 with another 6-6 regular season and that’s when the proverbial excrement hit the fan. Details emerged publicly of allegations that Kevin Wilson was mistreating injured players. He was fired before the bowl game and replaced by defensive coordinator Tom Allen.
In today’s climate, finding out that Wilson was not treating players’ ailments seriously strikes me as particularly egregious. When the injuries include blood clots and concussions, among other injuries, that seems like solid ground to get rid of the guy. I mean its not like he was a good coach either, his record at Indiana was 26-47.
See Eagle fans…it could get worse. The messed up part about the Kevin Wilson saga is that the first contract extension, through 2021 mind you, was triggered despite the fact that the Indiana AD had started investigating these allegations.
Wilson is now offensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer and has a whole new set of problems to deal with in Columbus. Meanwhile his defensive coordinator Tom Allen has tried to keep the program momentum going despite the scandal.
Indiana did not look bad in the 1st half of the season opener vs. Ohio State. But in the 2nd half the Buckeyes pulled away and beat the Hoosiers to the tune of 49-21. The Hoosiers did a good job of bouncing back the following week by drubbing UVA on their home field 34-17.
Who’s a Hoosier?
Quick rundown of Indiana players to watch out for:
Two QB system:
Peyton Ramsey (the mobile one, good game vs UVA)
Richard Lagow (incumbent starter, better arm)
Morgan Ellison (RB1)
Mike Majette (pass-catching threat)
Simmie Cobbs Jr. 6-4 200 (leading receiver)
Donavan Hale 6-4 225 (7 catches, 116 yards through the first two games)
Luke Timian 6-0 187 (slot receiver)
Ian Thomas 6-5 250 (Tight end, 2 TDs in ’17)
They have a two quarterback system. Their OL is pretty darn bad, don’t take it from me, take it from them. They had to replace the more stationary Richard Lagow with the more mobile Peyton Ramsey early in the UVA game and it completely turned the game around.
Tom Allen wanted a more mobile QB that could make plays with his legs and survive behind the makeshift OL. Ramsey went 16-20 with 205 all purpose yards and 3 TDs, 2 through the air, one on the ground (a 26 yarder, kid’s got wheels).
So what can Eagles fans hang their hats on?
Keys to victory
- Quarterback play – Whoever ends the game with the ball in his hands by the end of this game, whether it is the starter Shai Werts, or LaBaron Anthony, or Kado Brown; needs to make plays. Plain and simple. The offensive line is still really bad which makes things worse. If Werts can’t get it going early, we could see the hook. Older and marginally more experienced Anthony and Brown could potentially be calming influences. Or I could just be desperately grasping at straws…your call.
- The offensive line and establishing the dive – The play that any triple option offense is based around is the dive. Specifically the B-Back dive. Establishing the between the tackles, north-and-south running attack wears down the opposing defenses and sets up the outside running game. If established properly, it sucks the opposing defense in, and leaves the areas outside the tackles vulnerable to playaction. The OL, despite better and more expensive coaching (Bodine, Chandler) still looks as bad or worse than they did last year. The running game looks anemic, even with two, possibly three decent RBs in the backfield. I’m flummoxed as to how to fix it too.
- GS front 7 vs. IU OL – Luckily Indiana’s offensive line stinks too. The GS front y has been one of the bright spots on the team so far. The DL owns the nation’s top Havoc Rate and the LB corps is 26th. Perhaps the defense can hold off the dangerous Hoosier offense long enough for the offense to figure it out? Well we’re 0-2 using that theory so far, so….third time’s a charm?
Indiana 35 – GS 10
We score an offensive touchdown, that’s all I’m willing to commit to. The temperature will continue to rise on Tyson Summers’ seat if the Eagles don’t at least look competitive with two weeks to prepare. Indiana had two weeks too after Hurricane Irma cancelled their game vs. FIU. Teams with extra time to prepare for the option tend to thrive. Fortunately for them, you don’t need much more than a half-hour to prepare for Georgia Southern’s offense.