Penn State, IU feature high-octane offense
UNIVERSITY PARK – Indiana was routed in its last game by a Missouri offense that put 45 points on the board en route to a lopsided 17-point victory.
Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson compared Penn State to that Missouri offense and said that the talent the Nittany Lions have is comparable to the 4-0 Tigers squad.
“Maybe not as much running quarterback as they did, but … they’re going to throw it to some nice players in space, and they complement it with the running game,” Wilson said.
The nice player in space that Indiana will have to worry about is receiver Allen Robinson, and Wilson is well aware of him. Indiana’s coach said Robinson has a very good skill set, and his background in basketball helps him in space.
“I think [he] was a very talented basketball player in high school, so I think his feel of space and leverage and how to work and how to make some acrobatic plays even though I don’t think he’s maybe the biggest receiver,” Wilson said. “He does have some substance, so he can make competitive plays.”
While Robinson will likely be the big-play threat on the Lions’ offense, the Hoosiers have the potential to gain yards in large chunks as well.
Indiana is led by freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who is averaging just under 300 passing yards per game and has tossed 11 touchdowns in four contests to only five interceptions.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said Sudfeld is a good quarterback who can throw the ball accurately, and he slings the ball to his space players like his slot receivers.
O’Brien also said Penn State’s defense will have to be prepared to defend the fast-tempo style that Sudfeld and the Hoosiers bring.
“You’re going to have to make sure that you swing to the ball, that you tackle properly, that you get lined up and communicate and you’re able to decipher the formation that they come out in and make sure you understand what they’re doing,” O’Brien said.
The Hoosiers average 44.5 points per game, good for second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s 48.2, but Indiana leads the conference in total offense with an average of 547 yards per game.
Saturday’s matchup in Bloomington marks the first Big Ten test for both squads, and Penn State tight end Jesse James said he is looking forward to the offensive test Indiana provides as the Lions’ offense will be tasked with keeping up on the scoreboard.
“It’s always good to get back into Big Ten play,” James said. “Offensively, I think we’re ready to score points.”
Stopping the high-powered Hoosier offense will be a challenge for the Lion defense that has stood tall in every game except the one with Central Florida as quarterback Blake Bortles threw with ease in 34-31 victory Sept. 14.
Penn State’s defense will have to halt Sudfeld and get the pressure on him, which is something it could not do on Bortles as the junior quarterback was not sacked at all that night.
Getting pressure on Sudfeld is something defensive tackle DaQuan Jones realizes is crucial in not being torched by Indiana’s offense.
“We just got to go out there and get our hands up and block passes and stuff like that if we can’t get to the quarterback,” Jones said.