COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Gary Pinkel says his team is prepared to face Indiana’s high-powered offense.
”I think you just have to control them the best you can,” the Missouri coach said. ”I think you have to make sure you contain the great skill that they have. You’re not going to stop them.”
The 18th-ranked Tigers (3-0) host the Hoosiers (1-1) on Saturday before starting an eight-game stretch against Southeastern Conference opponents. Indiana is averaging 574 total yards and running back Tevin Coleman leads the country with 218.5 rushing yards per game.
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The matchup presents a different kind of test for Missouri compared to last week against Central Florida, which held the ball for 35 minutes and huddled up often before plays – something seen increasingly less by defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said.
”Is that what that was called?” he asked sarcastically. ”Personally, I think this is the norm for our guys, because we practice against it every day. It’s been a godsend that our offense is a fast-paced offense.”
The Hoosiers prefer not to be known as a one-dimensional team, but lost 45-42 last week at Bowling Green and ranked last in the Big Ten in 2013 in both points allowed (38.8) and yards allowed (527.9).
Coach Kevin Wilson says his defense has improved – at least in practice. He knows the statement means little until his players can prove it against other teams.
”When you’re called upon, you’ve got to step up and make the plays,” he said. ”We just need to be relentless, play harder, play more physically, play with more energy, play with our hair on fire.”
Here are some things to know about the matchup between Indiana and Missouri:
TEVIN COLEMAN: The Indiana junior ranks second in the country with 126.8 rushing yards per game since the beginning of last season and scored a career-high three touchdowns at Bowling Green. He has reached the end zone in 11 consecutive games, one short of the school record set by Anthony Thompson in 1988-89. ”We need more guys to play like him,” Wilson said.
BATTLE OF THE QBs: Missouri’s Maty Mauk enters the game leading the country with 13 total touchdowns (12 passing, one rushing). He has also thrown three interceptions, averaging one every 25 passing attempts. Last year, he only tossed two in 133 attempts. Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld has completed 71.2 percent of his passes through two games for 458 yards and one touchdown, and has added two more scores on the ground.
MISSOURI’S PRESSURE: Defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden are taking advantage of their starting roles after the departures of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam to the NFL. Ray ranks first nationally with 7.5 tackles for loss while Golden ranks fifth with 6.5. The two have also combined for nine sacks and their pressure helped force Central Florida into committing four second-half turnovers.
PENALTIES: Indiana committed 11 penalties for 128 yards at Bowling Green after committing four for 30 yards in a season-opening 28-10 win against Indiana State. Wilson said his goal wasn’t to eliminate penalties altogether, though, as more aggressive teams often perform better. ”If you tell a lineman not to hold, he’s not going to block after a while,” he said. ”And if you tell a defensive lineman not to jump offside, he’s not going to jump the (snap).”
TURNOVERS: Missouri owns the country’s longest active takeaway streak at 47 games and rank fourth nationally this season with a plus-two turnover margin per game. Indiana committed a critical fumble in the fourth quarter last week, losing possession at the Bowling Green 12-yard line and subsequently allowing the Falcons to drive 88 yards for a 39-35 lead.