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Indiana at Missouri: Hoosier backfield could have a huge day if Tiger line doesn't dominate

The Indiana offense is explosive and experience, particularly in the backfield and on the line. If Missouri's defensive front can't establish an advantage, Tevin Coleman, Shane Wynn, and the Indiana skill position players could be devastating.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana team that takes the field in Columbia on Saturday will be pretty similar to the one that Mizzou fans saw last September in Bloomington, both in terms of personnel and style. Indiana still has one of the best offenses Missouri will see, and judging by the Hoosiers' defensive performance against Bowling Green last Saturday -- they only allowed 5.1 yards per play but couldn't get off the field, allowing BGSU 113 snaps and eventually fading -- Indiana will also still have one of the worst defenses.

Today, we'll discuss the O, which really is dangerous.

Nate Sudfeld (6'5, 230, Jr.) (42-for-59, 458 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks, 7.4 yards per attempt; 15 carries, 64 yards, 2 TD)
Nate Boudreau (6'4, 220, So.)
Zander Diamont (6'1, 175, Fr.)

Nate Sudfeld is nothing if not solid. He's been a starter on and off for a couple of years now, and he certainly knows Kevin Wilson's system pretty well. Splitting time with Tre Roberson, Sudfeld threw for 2,523 yards, 21 touchdowns, and nine interceptions last season. Three of those picks came against Missouri -- one via Kony Ealy's leaping pick six, one on the last play of the second half, and one early in the fourth quarter. He was more flustered against Missouri than against other teams, but if he's comfortable in the pocket (a pretty big if when Markus Golden and Shane Ray are involved), he's quite good.

Tevin Coleman (6'1, 210, Jr.) (47 carries, 437 yards, 9.3 per carry, 5 TD; 5 targets, 4 catches, 38 yards)
D'Angelo Roberts (5'10, 207, Sr.) (29 carries, 149 yards, 5.1 per carry, 1 TD; 2 targets, 2 catches, 14 yards)

I love Tevin Coleman. One of the parts of my 2014 Indiana preview for SB Nation was entitled "Tevin Coleman is Awesome."

But the primary reason I can't worry too much about Indiana's offense is Tevin Coleman. Highlight Yards basically look at a runner's explosiveness once he reaches the second level of a defense. Combining that with Opportunity Rate (the frequency with which you reach said second level), we get a pretty good idea for what kind of back you are. Coleman's 35.9 percent Opportunity Rate was nothing special, but no one in the country was more explosive.

Of the 199 FBS players with at least 100 carries in 2013, only seven averaged 8.0 highlight yards per opportunity or greater. Boston College's Andre Williams and Missouri's Henry Josey averaged 8.0, Maryland's C.J. Brown and Ohio State's Braxton Miller averaged 8.4, West Virginia's Dreamius Smith and UL-Lafayette's Elijah McGuire averaged 8.6 ... and Tevin Coleman averaged 12.0. His average was 40 percent better than the second best. He had 14 carries of at least 20 yards (only 12 players had more), and he had eight of at least 40 (most in the country). He is unlit dynamite every play he's on the field.

With Baylor's Lache Seastrunk now in the pros, Coleman might be the nation's best angle buster. Safeties think they have the angle to catch him and bring him down. They do not.

Coleman is thus far averaging 9.4 yards per carry this year. Mizzou did a wonderful job of hemming him in last year (15 carries, 54 yards); the Tigers will have to do so again. If he finds open space, he takes the ball a long way.

Shane Wynn (5'7, 167, Sr.) (17 targets, 12 catches, 147 yards, 8.7 per target)
Ricky Jones (5'10, 190, So.) (2 targets, 1 catch, 13 yards, 6.5 per target)
Dominique Booth (6'1, 206, Fr.) (1 target, 1 catch, 15 yards)

Nick Stoner (6'1, 190, Sr.) (10 targets, 7 catches, 68 yards, 6.8 per target)
Simmie Cobbs, Jr. (6'4, 209, Fr.) (5 targets, 3 catches, 57 yards, 11.4 per target)

Isaiah Roundtree (5'11, 197, Sr.) (1 target, 1 catch, -2 yards)
J-Shun Harris II (5'8, 162, Fr.) (11 targets, 9 catches, 80 yards, 7.3 per target, 1 TD)

Michael Cooper (6'5, 256, Jr.) (2 targets, 1 catch, 14 yards, 7.0 per target)
Jordan Fuchs (6'6, 230, Fr.)

Shane Wynn was Indiana's No. 3 receiver last year behind Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes; he is far and away the No. 1 this year now that those two are gone. He was used mostly as a jitterbug possession guy last year, averaging just 9.7 yards per catch on basically extended handoffs, but he broke off a 68-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter against Missouri last year. He's good in the open field if you let him get there.

Beyond that, this unit is pretty much unknown. Freshmen J-Shun Harris II, Dominique Booth (a four-star former Mizzou target), and Simmie Cobbs Jr. have combined for 13 catches so far, mostly from Harris, the least heralded of the three. There's athleticism here, and there will certainly be some big plays if Sudfeld has time to read the defense, but at the very least this receiving corps isn't really built to take advantage of Missouri DBs' inexperience.

Jason Spriggs (6'7, 300, Jr.) (26 career starts)
Dimitric Camiel (6'7, 308, So.)

David Kaminski (6'4, 295, Jr.) (7 career starts)
Bernard Taylor (6'2, 300, Sr.) (25 career starts)

Collin Rahrig (6'2, 285, Sr.) (25 career starts)
Jake Reed (6'4, 283, Jr.) (6 career starts)

Dan Feeney (6'4, 305, So.) (14 career starts)
Jacob Bailey (6'5, 303, So.) (3 career starts)

Ralston Evans (6'4, 290, Jr.) (14 career starts)
Peyton Eckert (6'6, 290, Jr.) (18 career starts)

Indiana entered the season with nine of 10 two-deep members having started at some point in their career. That could be a sign of a shaky starting lineup or of past injuries, but so far it appears the unit is healthy and solid. The running backs are getting into the open field, and Sudfeld has been sacked only twice. Granted, Missouri's line is infinitely better than BGSU's or Indiana State's, however.

The battle up front will dictate Indiana's success. If Coleman is finding space to run and Sudfeld is finding time to pass, then the Hoosiers will load up the points on anybody. But if Mizzou's line establishes an advantage, the Hoosiers almost certainly won't score enough to win.