As Wake Forest heads to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers tomorrow at 3:30 on the Big Ten Network, we continue our plight to bring you the best information and coverage around the interwebs on the Demon Deacons.
Our Q and A guest this week is none other than Kyle Robbins, Managing Editor over at The Crimson Quarry. We discussed a bunch of football stuff, so keep reading if you want to be smarter on Indiana football.
After losing a highly productive QB and RB tandem to the NFL last season in Sudfeld and Howard, how do their replacements compare after two games?
So far, they're more than fine. Despite losing an NFL back like Jordan Howard, Devine Redding still ran for over 1,000 yards last year and most Indiana fans expected him to fill in just fine for Howard. That's been the case. He picked up just where he left off at the end of the season in 2015 covering for Howard's injuries, and has the longest streak of 100-yard rushing games in the country dating back to last season. Richard Lagow's been great to date, as well. Sudfeld was a big guy that could stand in the pocket and make throws, but Lagow might be even bigger and have a better arm. He's clearly still coming into his own with timing and chemistry with recievers as a JUCO transfer, but he's yet to throw a single interception. As he fully gets up to speed and comfortable, that's all you can ask for. But he's talented, and reminiscent of Nate in a lot of ways -- that's no doubt.
Part of what makes replacing those two so easy? Indiana's offensive line. It's a veteran group that's been hailed as one of the best in the nation -- and having an All-American up front playing guard helps, too.
Losing stud WR Simmie Cobbs to an ankle injury last game seems like a big loss as well. Who do you look to step up and fill the void at WR?
Cobbs is a heckuva a player and has a future in the NFL, but I'm not sure wideout injuries are as big of a deal at Indiana as they are at other programs. Kevin Wilson will end up giving reps -- or even full drives -- to guys 7 and 8 spots down the wideout and receiver depth charts during games. Cobbs missed the first game with a suspension, and Nick Westbrook's already stepped up in his absence. Skill position players can be somewhat plug-and-play in Wilson's system. I don't think it's a big issue.
The Wake defense has been very stout against the run this season, but haven't face a line or RB near the caliber of Indiana's. Do you expect the offense to continue to be very run-heavy against Wake's strength?
If Dan Feeney isn't able to go because of his concussion, I think you'll see the playcalling skew to let Richard Lagow open it up a bit. Indiana fans (and assuredly, their coaches) are aware that Wake's strength is up front and not in the defensive backfield, so I think you'll see the Hoosiers throw the ball a bit more on Saturday than in the first two outings. Lagow needed time to get his footing then. With a bye week behind him, I'd expect to see more chemistry with receivers and him taking more downfield chances.
On the defensive side of the ball who are some playmakers that the Deacs will need to be weary of? Is the strength of the defense on the line, LBs or secondary?
Indiana's defense is muuuuuuuuch improved from last season, or FIU and Ball State's offenses are just really really really bad. It's probably somewhere in the middle. There's no question Tom Allen's 4-2-5 has created instant improvement, Indiana gave up just one touchdown in each of the opening two games of the year. They gave up 47 points to Southern Illinois in the 2015 opener.
I'd call the strength the secondary. They were young and got torched quite a bit in 2015, but were still able to find ways to create turnovers quite a bit. Now with Allen coaching things up a bit more, helping with positioning, re-commiting to tackling, those coverage and ball skills are even better. Rashard Fant was near the tops in the country last year in pass breakups as a sophomore -- and he might be a future NFL corner.
As your coach spoke about this week (GTHC) I see that IU has problems getting and keeping fans in your stadium. With a similar football tradition, we certainly identify with these issues. I'm guessing we shouldn't expect a capacity crowd this weekend? Those in Indiana are probably more familiar with Lake Forest.
Well, I think those comments by Wilson were interpreted oddly by some. It was a pretty fair request -- hey, can ya stay in the stadium until the end of the game? Indiana doesn't have a problem getting people to come to football games, there's 80,000+ in the parking lots surrounding. Actual attendance has gotten much better since Fred Glass came in as AD in 2009, and since Wilson's made major progress with the program -- probably up around 40,000+ per game. The problem becomes in the second half... who comes back in the stadium after leaving to go drink at halftime?
Indiana football games are still a major social event first and a football game second for many. That's slowly changing, but old habits die hard. With nice weather expected a 3:30 kick, I'd expect a decent crowd to start -- and then a big drop in the second. That's generally the case for non-marquee out-of-conference opponents.
For those in ACC country that don't have the B1G Network, tell them what's going to happen so they can do other things with these 3 hours on Saturday.
I think Dave Clawson's making nice progress in Winston-Salem, but I'm unsure about Wake's ability to score enough points to stay in this one. Indiana likes to turn teams over, John Wolford seems, uh, good at agreeing to do that. Football logic tells me Indiana is the more talented team and should be safe by a couple of touchdowns. Indiana fan logic knows they won't make it that easy. Gonna say a score about like last year's. Indiana 31, Wake 21.