Hoosiers looking for answers against North Texas
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana coach Kevin Wilson prefers using the wide-open, up-tempo game plan on Saturdays.
Last week, he watched in disbelief as the Hoosiers' offense repeatedly stalled against Maryland. This week against North Texas, Wilson is looking for solutions.
He expects the passing game to be on time and in rhythm, the running game to grind it out and the offensive line to work in unison - a recipe that led to Indiana's stunning upset two weeks ago at Missouri. Wilson and the Hoosiers spent this week trying to put that successful combination back together.
''It's got to be sharper,'' Wilson said of the offense. ''I'm confident it's going to be there. But it's got to be consistent because you go back the previous two weeks, you see some pretty good things, and all of the sudden you see that. We won't change. We've got to get better.''
The Hoosiers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) don't have a choice now.
They've already lost at Bowling Green and lost their conference opener to the Terrapins. Another loss to the Mean Green (2-2, 0-1 Conference USA) would be a devastating blow to the Hoosiers already teetering hopes for a bowl.
The Hoosiers face a defense that already has 18 sacks, forced at least one turnover in each game this season and allowed only 89 points. And if the Bowling Green loss didn't get the Hoosiers attention, Wilson has some reminders about North Texas.
''Bowl team a year ago, nine wins, bowl victory a year ago,'' Wilson said. ''They played this year at Texas, last year at Georgia. They won't be impressed walking in here with us or this arena. I think they have the most kids on any team in the country from the state of Texas, which is great football. Their kids play fast, are very athletic and active, they play very, very hard, very physical.''
And with no margin for error, the Hoosiers must find a way to make the corrections.
''We'll see what we can do this week,'' Wilson said. ''It's not like this is going to be an easy week to solve our problems because they're a very good defense.''
Here are some other things to watch on Saturday.
HISTORIC START: North Texas is hoping to follow its most successful September in two decades by pulling off a monumental upset in its first trip to a Big Ten school. The Mean Green hasn't started 3-2 since 1994, predating their move to the FBS a year later. And the last time North Texas went 3-1 in non-conference play as an FBS member was 1968.
TACKLING PROBLEM: Indiana's offense wasn't the only problem last weekend. Wilson counted 21 missed tackles against Maryland, a number Wilson said was greater than Indiana's total from the first three games combined. Clearly, that's another area the Hoosiers need to clean up.
McCARNEY RETURNS: North Texas coach Dan McCarney is a Big Ten fan at heart. He played at Iowa and was an assistant there for 11 years under legendary former North Texas coach Hayden Fry. He also coached at Wisconsin and Iowa State, and acknowledged this week he enjoys fall football in the Midwest. But for McCarney, this weekend will be a success only if he leaves Bloomington, Indiana, with a second straight win over the Hoosiers. North Texas won the only other game in the series 24-21 on Sept. 24, 2011, in Denton, Texas.
THE STREAKER: Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman leads the nation in rushing at 172.8 yards per game and all-purpose yards at 196.0. He's also averaging 7.9 yards per carry, seventh in the nation. He's also run for 100 yards in six straight games, the longest active streak in the nation, and scored a touchdown in a school-record 13 straight games.
FEELING PINK: Indiana's coaches and players will wear pink this weekend in support of breast cancer awareness.