Hoosiers use bye to prep for Georgia Southern ground game
Indiana took full advantage of a few unexpected off days last week.
Coach Tom Allen and his staff hit the recruiting trail. Some players got healthy. And the defense used the extra time to break down Georgia Southern’s unusual option offense, which could present problems on Saturday afternoon.
”You can’t just do it in a couple days. We’ve been working on them in the spring and then a little bit in the fall camp,” Allen said. ”You know, with the creative bye week, we had a chance to get some extra reps against that style as well. It was good.”
After jumping into the top 50 defenses a year ago, Indiana’s goal this season was to finish in the top 25. Right now, they’re No. 106 overall, tied for No. 105 in sacks (1.0 per game) and are one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision teams without a turnover forced.
One reason may be the cancellation of last week’s scheduled game against Florida International in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma after opening against power-conference foes Ohio State and Virginia. Regardless, Allen knows his defense must get in sync before getting into the heart of conference play.
Georgia Southern (0-2) does not run the traditional option, like Navy or Georgia Tech. Instead, they put quarterback Shai Werts, a redshirt freshman, usually in the shotgun. None of the top four backs on the depth chart are typical power backs and one starter, L.A. Ramsby, was actually recruited to play quarterback.
”Have we talked about being up under center? Only about 10 times a week,” coach Tyson Summers said, referring to conversations he’s had with his offensive coordinator. ”The challenge with that really is that that offense that I have a great admiration for, it’s something that I believe in. So to say, that we’re just going to go install that after two weeks would be a real challenge.”
Especially when it forces opponents to prepare differently.
Getting the unexpected break certainly gave the Hoosiers (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) more time to work out the kinks. But Allen knows that will not be enough.
”Just having them execute the offense at the level they are going to see it on game day is really almost impossible if you don’t run that style of offense, which we obviously don’t,” he said. ”So it always is going to take a series or two to get used to the speed of it. I just think that’s why people run it. It creates challenges, and they will be difficult to stop.”
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Through two games, Werts has 54 carries – the highest total for any Eagles player in back-to-back games since Jerick McKinnon carried it 63 times in 2013. But he is on record pace. At this rate, Werts would finish the 12-game regular season with 324 carries – shattering Chaz Williams’ record of 290 attempts during a 14-game season in 2002. That was the same year the NCAA allowed postseason totals to be added to regular-season stats.
The Hoosiers will honor their 2007 Insight Bowl team with a reunion this weekend. As a tribute to late coach Terry Hoeppner, who died from brain cancer in June 2007, the team will wear helmet stickers that read ”Hep’s Rock” and uniforms with a subtle limestone graphic designed to replicate the visual aesthetic, texture of the rock Hoeppner had moved into the north end zone.
THE REUNION 2
Indiana’s bowl team won’t be the only one reuniting this weekend. Hoosiers linebacker Tegray Scales and Ramsby played together at Colerain High School in Cincinnati. Ramsby, a fifth-year senior, has 1,916 yards rushing and 34 TDs in his career and has scored in 10 of the last 11 Georgia Southern games. Scales led the nation in tackles for loss (23 1/2) last season and was the defensive MVP of the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl.
Summers is the fifth-youngest coach in the FBS at age 37. His team is built in the same image. Georgia Southern has only eight seniors – including fifth and sixth-year players – on the roster, the lowest total in the nation.
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