Preview: Indiana 2013

Submitted by Brian on October 18th, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Other stuff here: Ace FFFF!


WHAT Michigan vs Indiana
WHERE Michigan Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 3:30 PM Eastern
October 19th, 2013
WEATHER overcast, low 50s, 30% chance of rain, 10 MPH winds


Indiana is the new Northwestern, an outfit with an irritatingly good offense whose defense gets clubbed so regularly that they struggle towards bowl eligibility. They've given up 450 rushing yards to Navy, 35 points to Indiana State, 45 to Missouri, 42 to previously-moribund Michigan State.

If only Michigan's rushing offense could be described as "moribund"…

Run Offense vs Indiana


This is high up in a search for "nihilists" thanks to Midnight Maize

Michigan's coming off the worst tailback performance in the history of the program in game I charted and have the tailback a +6.5 for the day, so the foxhole is crowded with atheists. Nihilists. What have you.

The good news(?) is that if there is a program on the schedule that provides an ability to get healthy, it is the extremely permeable Hoosiers. Leaving aside the Navy game, here are Indiana's outings against BCS competition:

Opponent Att Yards YPC TD
Missouri 46 297 6.5 3
Penn State 31 120 3.9 0
Michigan State 42 278 6.6 4

Two hammerings and then Penn State providing a little sobriety about the performance of Michigan's rushing defense last week. Ace noted that their line is bad and their linebackers are bad, so they are bad. Think Indiana.

Of course, we're all in this foxhole waiting for the next shell in re: Michigan's running game. It got so bad against Penn State that savior Chris Bryant was pulled for walk-on Joey Burzynski, who didn't do any better against Penn State's loaded-up box. This week damn near anything might happen at guard, including an honest-to-God start for Burzynski or tackle Erik Magnuson getting his first career start at a position he has not played in his career at Michigan. Or both! After a miserable game in Happy Valley, reports are that Kyle Kalis's job is under siege as well, and deservedly.

This is time to full-on panic. Michigan's already pressed that button once with a mid-season switch; they are now pounding it. What's more, the previous move was plausible—Glasgow is major-college-sized and had played a lot of center in the spring and Bryant was a guard who had been injured for a while. Sticking a 6'1" dude and/or a tackle in when both weigh a 70s-era 285 pounds is not plausible.

Michigan will have to be better against Indiana if only because futility on the level of last week only comes around once every 64 years, if that; also Indiana is horrible. But no one's going to be talking about how the line is finally on the right track after this one.

Key Matchup: Guards versus anyone. Is the DT/interior OL matchup an advantage for Indiana? Think about that.


Pass Offense vs Indiana


The Devin Gardner Yards Per Attempt And Turnover Extravaganza visits the Hoosiers this weekend, promising events in all directions. Indiana's hasn't been miserable in the YPA department this year but the consistency with which they give up yards has led to some outlandish statlines:

  • James Franklin, Missouri: 32/47, 343 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
  • Christian Hackenberg, PSU: 30/55, 340 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
  • Connor Cook, MSU: 22/31, 235 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

55 attempts from a true freshman and a MSU quarterback over 200 yards passing. Wonders. They acquired five sacks in those three games, a 3.6% rate that Michigan would be disappointed by. Indiana will drop deep and let you have underneath stuff without harassing your quarterback much. They hope you make some mistakes, please, and have no illusion they will cause any themselves.

So how in the hell does that interact with the God-Emperor Of Amplitude? Probably a lot like James Franklin did, bombing it to Dorial Green-Beckham for a 41-yard catch and seven others besides. Marcus Lucas also went over 100 yards in that game and a third receiver neared 80. Our DGB is Devin Funchess, Lucas is Gallon, and oh right Franklin threw two interceptions while running for 61 yards.

Sounds about par for the course what with Funchess establishing himself a terrifying actual wide receiver who occasionally puts his hand down, Gallon's consistent excellence, and Gardner's tendency to be awesome just before he puts his hand in a meat grinder.

Key matchup: Gardner versus himself, always.

Run Defense vs Indiana



On defense is where it gets hairy. Indiana's adopted a passing-oriented jet-tempo spread offense, what with Nate Sudfeld being about as mobile as his offensive line. Against MSU Indiana called 23 runs against 52 passes; against PSU the ratio was to 32 to 45. Those runs tend to be successful against middling defenses like—sigh—Penn State's but only found erratic success against MSU and little against Mizzou.

Opponent Att Yards YPC TD
Missouri 26 98 3.8 2
Penn State 35 173 4.9 3
Michigan State 28 141 5.0 2

The MSU number is one 64-yard touchdown in the first quarter and 27 additional carries for an average of 2.9 yards a pop.

Indiana's main guy here is sophomore Tevin Coleman, who's used IU's tuneup games and a couple of Big Ten bursts to grab an impressive 6.1 YPC; he's also a frequent target on passes with 16 receptions. Coleman has decent power, good speed, and is comfortable with one-cut zone running the likes of which are familiar to Michigan fans. This is his long touchdown against—sigh—Penn State:

This is going to be the usual call for plenty of Quinton Washington, as the pass rush threat a second three-tech brings is not worth the decreased run efficiency, especially against a screen-and-short-pass-mad offense.

Michigan's going to have to be on top of a lot of misdirection here, as IU will zone read even with Sudfeld and will bring in Tre Roberson for spurts, especially if Sudfeld's not doing well; Indiana also throws every screen you've ever heard of and several that haven't been invented yet.

Things get more dangerous on the ground when Roberson comes in. Roberson has gotten only spot duty this year but did come in against Michigan State to put up an 11/17, 122 yard, 2 TD, 1 INT line in garbarge or garbage-ish time. He is a dangerous athlete, or at least has been in the past. Not so much this year, as opponents have kept him bottled up.

On Michigan's side of the ball, it's been tough for an often-undersized defensive line to hold up against doubles, especially in the nickel package. Despite that, they've done well enough and the linebackers have been there consistently enough to make long plays unheard of. Michigan hasn't given up a rush of 20 yards yet, and the two longest runs of the year were quarterback scrambles by Minnesota and Akron. Indiana poses a stiffer test than anyone Michigan's played so far in that department; that's still an impressive record. Against a finesse outfit like the Hoosiers they should do well as long as they don't do very poorly on a couple plays.

Key Matchup: Morgan and Ross versus misdirection. Taking away the quick strike on confusing short stuff goes a long way towards putting the clamps down on this offense. It'll be tough, especially against tempo.

Pass Defense vs Indiana


Latimer can play

Michigan's seen this before in incarnations competent and not: a screen-heavy passing spread that stretches the field in all directions. Indiana's incarnation is only okay. Sudfeld struggled to 4.6 YPA against MSU and 5.9 with three interceptions against Missouri; he was much better against—sigh—Penn State's leaky secondary, with 8.4 YPA.

Indiana does have diverse and sundry weapons here. Shane Wynn is Indiana Norfleet, a 5'7" slot with an impressive-for-a-slot 19 yards a catch. This is a punt return, but it gives an idea of what we're dealing with there:

He is an all-purpose weapon Michigan will have to watch out for on screens and end-arounds and all manner of whatnot.

Flanking Wynn are Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes, experienced, tall, fast-but-not-FAST guys who threaten vertically. Latimer's coming off a 51 catch, 805-yard sophomore year and is getting some NFL draft buzz; Hughes, a senior, has fallen behind him a bit in the pecking order after also drawing a lot of hype early in his career. They're both quality options.

Finally, senior tight end Ted Bolser had 41 catches a year ago; at 6'6", 250, he's a seam threat and will probably end up on an NFL roster himself after this year.

The problem for the Hoosiers is their line, which does not show up in the sack column much because of the nature of their offense but limits what they can do as far as bombing it downfield goes. Ace noted 5 pressures on around 25 downfield attempts against Michigan State—that's a ton.

Sudfeld is also a bit of a weak link; Ace had him down for a whopping 10 inaccurate balls. Roberson's probably a downgrade in that department.

Michigan's coped relatively well with the many passing spreads they've gone up against. They're mostly a bend but don't break outfit that leaves their safeties back and waits for your mistake to get aggressive. When combined with a mediocre organic pass rush and a tendency to get out of rush lanes, this can get frustrating. The results have been good overall, though.

Michigan goes three deep with experienced corners and has put their best, Countess, in the slot. That should help contain Wynn; concerns about the outside corners getting exposed are a lot smaller after Michigan had a good day against Allen Robinson, minus Allen Robinson occasionally being a freak. Channing Stribling might be an option again as Michigan tries to check Indiana's lanky outside WRs; he screwed up on one of the late PSU completions but it wasn't quite as bad as an earlier touchdown given up by Courtney Avery on a badly located back shoulder fade.

Key Matchup: Latimer/Hughes vs Avery/Stribling/Taylor. Indiana's outside WRs are no joke; Michigan coped with PSU but "coped" is probably the right word.

Special Teams

Blargle. Fargle blargle.

Right. As a team, Indiana is averaging 15 yards a punt return, though that one return from Wynn above against Indiana State is distorting that heavily. The good news: Indiana has only returned seven punts on the year because their defense is so bad. Michigan should try not to punt. It might get scary if there's one guy within 15 yards of Wynn on the catch.

Kicker Mitch Ewald is putting about two-third of his KOs in the endzone and has made about 80% of his field goals over a four-year career. Punter Erich Toth is average.

Michigan's Brendan Gibbons picked a bad time to miss from 40 and 33; he is generally solid otherwise. Punting… guh, return central. Returns have been steady with Drew Dileo; Dennis Norfleet is perpetually one guy away from a big kickoff runback.




it's made of flan

Cheap Thrills

Worry if...

  • Devin Gardner's first pass is a handoff to Fitzgerald Toussaint that goes for –3 yards and it's still somehow intercepted.
  • Michigan runs the ball a lot.
  • Indiana's tempo screws with Michigan.

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • Drew Dileo gets more snaps than tight ends not named Funchess.
  • Michigan's comfort in their nickel package is apparent as Indiana screens get snuffed out on the regular.
  • Making IU drive the field results in red zone woes for the Hoosiers.

Fear/Paranoia Level: 5 (Baseline 5; –1 for You Are Indiana, +1 for …And I Think You Win The IU DT/M OL Matchup, –1 for By Golly Michigan Is Prepped For Passing Spreads, +1 for You May Be Indiana But You Just Beat PSU By 20, –1 for Vegas Line, Vegas Line, Vegas Line, +1 for Oh Good A Team That Looks At The Playclock As A Resource)

Desperate need to win level: 7 (Baseline 5; +1 for I Guess If We Run The Table We Could Still Win The Division, –1 for Uhhhhh, +1 for Home Loss To Indiana Is Not A Good Resume Builder, +1 for I Really Need Next Week To Not Be This Week, –1 for I Feel Henri The Otter Of Ennui Just Around The Corner, +1 for Also There's A Bye So If Next Week Is This Week It's Two Full Weeks, –1 for Yes We Admit It This Team Is No Good. +1 for But Indiana)

Loss will cause me to... desperately pine for Alex Mitchell.

Win will cause me to... brace for impact with November.

The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:

Normally I'd say something like Michigan will grind down the Indiana defense because that's just what happens when Indiana plays Michigan. Obviously that is no longer an option. Unless it is. With Lewan back, the tackle over business threatens to be more effective, especially since Indiana's defensive line does not sport a Da'Quan Jones. They have one moderately disruptive defensive end, who'll still probably get clocked. And it's almost impossible to be as bad as Michigan was on Saturday if only because of luck. Michigan will move the ball in stops and starts, relying on Gardner to bail them out of some second and third and longs; they can actually overpower the Hoosiers in the red zone.

On the other side of the ball, Indiana will find success closer to that they found against MSU and Missouri than against Penn State. Michigan's set up pretty well to defend this offense with Ross and Morgan sniffing out plays and Countess patrolling the slot areas. They will get various things when Michigan guesses wrong or gets caught in the wrong defense; they won't skate up and down the field. Runs will be middling successes at best and they'll slog it out fast.

Tempo will screw with Michigan, providing a drive or two that causes some hair-clutching, and the outside receivers are good enough to get a couple of deep ones. Indiana scores in the twenties; Michigan barely outdistances them.

Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • Michigan adheres to their previous gameplan almost in full until such point as they get nervous, and then the scoring offense comes out. Tackle over is still deployed, and against Indiana it kind of works. Toussaint averages over three yards a carry!
  • Gardner throws flan interceptions and fumbles the ball orange times. He is replaced by a talking banana in the third quarter. The banana says things like "would you look at that, I'm a banana" and "how does it make sense to bring more people who want to kill me near the line of scrimmage?" The banana quits after the game to join a banana Smiths cover band.
  • The defense has a rather good day that's obscured by a lot of possessions and a lot of yards for Indiana. Field goals are the order of the day, like they were against PSU and Notre Dame.
  • Michigan, 30-26



October 18th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

Michigan's first offensive play: Playaction bomb to Devin Funchess for a touchdown. 

Michigan's second offensive play: Tackle-over stretch to the right for -1 yards.

Michigan's third offensive play: interception. 

Book it.


October 18th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

I fully expect the offense to hum along and drop 40+ on IU; the issue is that it won't really mean anything.  They could house the Hoosiers by 50 and it won't really change the fear that Lizard Brain Al Borges is lurking around the corner, ready to drum everyone over the head with 30 rushes for 1.2 ypc.  

I expect UM to win comfortably, but man the next two weeks are going to be rough leading up to MSU.


October 18th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

Call me an optimist, I think we put it together a bit this week. We'll dump or de-emphasize tackle over and spend the week trying to drill blocking fundamentals. 3:30 start at home should take some of the pressure and distractions off so guys can really focus on just blocking the guy in front of them and their technique.

We'll probably throw more on first down and overall. I'm kinda thinking a UTL II type game plan. Gardner got baited into a couple bad throws last game but otherwise has looked pretty good the last two games, I think the coaches will ride or die with him a bit more. I still think we'll run down hill more than most here will like. I think it will work sometimes and not others. I think we'll run some more misdirection off the run formations, fake jet sweep motion, PA pop passes and screens.

Defensively, we'll probably give up some yards, but I kinda think we'll be ok points wise. Indiana's tempo will probably work against them if we can keep them from big plays and force field goals. Our offense will still get lots of chances to respond.

35-20 Michigan


October 18th, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

Damn.  Reading these comments, viewing the UFR, and listening to the radio  has me convinced we suck.

I do not believe we suck.  I don't ike what I've seen, but I think Hoke got through to Borges and Funk that we need to simplify, diversify, and rectify.

Michigan wins, going away.


October 18th, 2013 at 7:27 PM ^

I agree with you and I wish alot of people here would take this team week by week and just let the last game go already . Its getting really fucking stupid with the same comments day after day if you dont think the team is as good as some of you all say they are than do the rest of us a favor stop watching and commenting about them. I think that some here hate when Michigan wins and loves to bash them when they lose. Its really bad if they win ugly but a win is a win deal with it .  A true fan has faith and love for their team win or lose others just love the drama.


October 18th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

We play at home which, with Coach Hoke's at-home perfect winning streak, leads me in the direction of cautious optimism. But then there are the hard facts of Akron, UConn and Penile State.
I'll check my phone after the game and see what happened. It was that else a can of mace, and I wear contacts.

I Have A Gnarly Face

October 18th, 2013 at 3:18 PM ^


Why can't we be on Ohio's level and just know we're going to win these chump games? I'm really getting tired of waiting. From a winning standpoint ONLY, it must be nice to be a buckeye fan. Other than that, there is literally nothing else nice about being a buckeye fan.


October 18th, 2013 at 5:04 PM ^

whenever I'm sure I have college football figured out like "No way Missouri beats Georgia" or "Texas is absolutely going to lose to OU by 30" then the exact opposite happens. I am so sure that we'll continue to struggle that I think we'll actually come out passing. Gardner has 3 TDs 1 INT and a rushing touchdown.

Michigan 52
Indiana 27


October 18th, 2013 at 5:20 PM ^

I have been high on Indiana's team and offensive coaching this year. I have thought for several weeks that they will beat us.

My thoughts haven't changed. Mattison and his bend but don't break defense vs indiana and their take what the D gives them approach Is not a good match up.

Al Borges vs himself is also a bad matchup.

The worst matchup though is our offensive line. Each week when we play a "bad team" we see stats that the blog leads us to believe is good for our O line... Only to realize that a good high school line could push us back it seems.

Indiana will gain confidence as the game goes along.

UM -28 IU- 45


October 18th, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

I'll be there and I have a question (was going to create a thread but Thot better of it).

What am i suppose to do if/when al goes back to his bag of tricks and we're getting stuffed at the LOS again and again? I can't boo (cause people will think I'm directing it at the players) so how do I tell our coaching staff I HATE the play calls?


October 18th, 2013 at 6:19 PM ^

I agree with this.  We all want Michigan to play well and win games.  But jeez, if the coaches aren't doing what you think works best or the players aren't playing as well as you want, you just kinda have to deal with it. 

If things continue not working, changes will be made.  But what you do to show your displeasure after the game will do nothing other than make you look like an ass. 


October 18th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

You completely missed my point. If you are a fellow season ticket holder like me you've invested significant financial capital to attend the game inperson. How does a fan show displeasure TO THE COACHES (not the players) if booing is off the table? How do you let Al know that you aren't happy if we see a repeat of last Sat game plan and a repeat of last Sat results?

I predict it will get ugly at the game if Al does it again. Real ugly-and don't blame me....I already said I WASNT booing.


October 18th, 2013 at 11:45 PM ^

No you missed my point.  Maybe you should take a step back and wonder if this kind of emotional and financial investment is a good thing.  You still act as if they owe YOU something.  If you want to act like an entitled asswipe over the travails of young men striving their best I don't know what direction to give you.  Yeah, you don't like what the coaches are doing.  Boo hoo. Send a letter to Brandon to tell him that.  Get all your friends that agree with you to do the same.  Otherwise, pull up your big boy pants and give this team the support they deserve for the effort they're giving.


October 19th, 2013 at 6:03 AM ^

You're ridiculous. And based on your response I'm 99.9% sure you'll be watching the game from your couch at home.

Let me know if you feel the same way AFTER you start spending money to watch the game.


October 19th, 2013 at 9:17 AM ^

I had season tickets.  I quit going becasue of the obnoxious fans in the stands.  When they cheered Navarre getting hurt I decided enough was enough.  Sound familiar?  And you don't know anything about me. And yet I know that you feel entitled towards bad behavior because you spent money on tickets.  Act your age.

Bobby Boucher

October 18th, 2013 at 5:57 PM ^

Let's see if I'm any good at this prediction stuff:

Indiana displays some dynamic offense and we commence to bang our heads against a wall designed to disintegrate 1st and 10 until the fourth quarter upon which we ditch the game plan for Gardner run/scramble/pass to Gallon offense, which amazingly allows us to win the game.  Indiana takes the lead at least twice throughout the game.  28-27, Michigan.

Did I just describe every win earlier this season?


October 18th, 2013 at 7:06 PM ^

Offense: Continue to burn 75% of first downs, approaching hatewatching territory. IU plays with a 9-man box in man the entire game. I-Form still equals run and shotgun, pass. Michigan puts up 30-35 points with 2 Funchess TDs and 1 Chesson TD in the air. Gardner runs for 2 TDs with 2 INTs and Lewan has another injury scare.

Defense: 3- and 4- man rush fiesta. IU squeezes off 2 passing TDs they shouldn't and give up 3-4 gratifying sacks.

Team: Plays IU close enough that it pisses off more than half of the fanbase. Worries >>> enjoyment of this one. I look forward to monitoring the misery on my study breaks. Have fun storming the castle.

M 31
IU 30

The FannMan

October 18th, 2013 at 8:11 PM ^

It's 28 to 17 at the start of the 4th. We score two touchdowns in the 4th to go up by three. We then punt on fourth and two from the Indiana 34 with 1:05 left. They then use a bad PI call to hit a 51 yard FG with :01 on the clock.

The first OT features a pick by Countess on a screen. He has 75 yards in front of him, but trips over a towel dropped by a ref. Gibbons misses a 20 yard FG attempt on fourth and less than two.

The second overtime begins with Devin throwing a wide open bubble screen so badly that is a game ending pick six. Chesson looks like he could have made the tackle, but is distracted by Brian Cook's screams as he grabs Borges and leaps from the press box in a murder-suicide.

This site is renamed TWIS and immediately shut down.


October 19th, 2013 at 2:24 AM ^

Indiana will come back with INT's from Gardner and a no huddle spread attack. After the game everyone will be complaining that Borges should have been more conservative to run down the clock. IU 45 MI 38.