This is a Q&A with Dustin Dopriak of The Hoosier Scoop, an Indiana blog.
1.) The biggest storyline of the year for the Hoosiers has been the Tre Roberson injury. Is it as big of a loss as everyone is saying? How do you feel about the new QB, Cameron Coffman?
The loss of Roberson was a really significant one. Is it as big a loss as everyone is saying? Eh, hard to say. Roberson was poised for a pretty good season. He’d worked really hard to become a better pocket passer and it showed in the first game against Indiana State. Losing the guy who goes into the season as the starting quarterback is always big because it shakes up the whole team dynamic, and I think Roberson was starting to become this team’s leader. That being said, UMass made Roberson look like Denard Robinson in that first game by allowing him to run wild for 114 yards and two touchdowns on five carries before his injury. He’s not THAT good and if he’d have made it through that game without breaking his leg, you would’ve seen a much more accurate, realistic depiction of Roberson’s potential in the last two games. Still, he was going to be pretty good.
Not sure for certain right now if Coffman is going to be Saturday’s starter. He’s accurate and mostly steady. Doesn’t have a great arm, but usually makes smart decisions and can put the ball where it needs to go. Not a great athlete but an adequate one. But he had a rough go of it Saturday and freshman Nate Sudfeld has been really good in two relief appearances. He has a stronger arm than both Roberson and Coffman and has the best potential to be a pocket quarterback. Up until Roberson’s injury, it appeared likely he was going to redshirt and he didn’t have a great grasp on the offense, but he’s made major strides in the last three weeks because he’s taken a lot more reps. Will be an interesting week.
2.) By the time Tre Roberson went down, Indiana was already en route to beating their win total from last season. Will they make it to 3-9 this year?
I think so, just because their schedule is a little less formidable than I originally presumed. I’d be stunned if they win one of the next two with Ohio State on the docket after this one. But after that, the Hoosiers play Navy, Illinois and Iowa in succession. Navy just lost to San Jose State and was clobbered by Notre Dame and Penn State, so I think that’s a winnable game for IU. Illinois just gave up 35 points to Penn State, so I’m thinking IU can score on them. And Iowa is shaky at best and Indiana tends to find a way to play those guys close. Not saying IU gets all three of those, but I think two wins is doable and I’ll be surprised if they don’t get one of the two. I don’t think the Hoosiers have a chance against Wisconsin and I don’t like their odds against Penn State or Purdue either, but I’d argue that the only games that are totally unwinnable for them are the next two. I’d say they end up with four wins.
3.) In both the Ball State and the Northwestern game, the Hoosiers gave each team a run for their money in the second half. Why couldn’t they capitalize?
In the Northwestern game, they were already behind too much and they couldn’t defend Kain Colter at all no matter where he was lined up. Against Ball State, they were in good shape but played bad defense down the stretch and Ball State got a lucky call on a sideline catch that set up a game-winning field goal. So offensively, they capitalized, but the IU defense just isn’t that good yet. It’s better than last year’s unit, which was one of the worst in the FBS, but this team could jump 30-40 spots in most defensive categories naturally and still be firmly in the bottom half. They’re not great against the run or the pass. I think the junior college linebackers (David Cooper and Jacarri Alexander) have helped and the secondary is better than it was a year ago when it was dreadful, but they’re a long way from being able to shut a team down.
4.) Are there any under the radar players Michigan State should be looking for from Indiana on Saturday?
I guess it depends what you consider under the radar. I don’t think you’ll see anyone who isn’t on Michigan State’s radar do much, because you won’t see anyone who hasn’t made an impact for Indiana at some point do anything. But I’d say most of Indiana’s skill position players are off the radars of most fans, casual or otherwise. Wide receivers Kofi Hughes and Cody Latimer are coming off really big weeks, and Shane Wynn and Duwyce Wilson also have the potential to make big plays. Stephen Houston might finally be taking over the tailback job again, and backups D’Angelo Roberts, Tevin Coleman and Isaiah Roundtree are all dangerous. Ted Bolser is a good playmaking tight end. But all of those guys are going to be on Michigan State’s scouting report regardless.
5.) What worries you the most about MSU?
I’ll spare you the journalistic objectivity lecture and just say that if I was an IU fan (I’m not) I’d be worried about all aspects of that defense. Indiana is coming off a 55-3 loss and even with the losses they’ve suffered, the Spartans still have defensive stars at all three levels in William Gholston, Denicos Allen and Johnny Adams. They can pressure the quarterback, stop the run and cover receivers. IU couldn’t do anything against them last year, and they’re going to be hard pressed to score points this year. Plus, I heard Le’Veon Bell is pretty good, right?
6.) Give us your best score prediction.
Michigan State 35-21.