Q&A with the Indiana Daily Student
Sep. 18, 2014
Missouri heads into its last week of non-conference play with a game against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Maneater talked to Grace Palmieri, one of the football beat reporters for the Indiana Daily Student, about the matchup.
The Maneater: What has made Indiana running back Tevin Coleman so effective this year?
GP: He is so explosive. Last week, you could tell in the first half the Bowling Green defense had prepared for Tevin Coleman, as he had 247 yards rushing in the season opener. In the second half, he scored on three consecutive scoring drives for IU. All of those were runs from outside the red zone. He is such a powerful back. One minute he's surrounded by three defenders and the next he's running in the open field. He breaks tackles and then he's gone. He's a huge asset to this team and is really fun to watch. One of the reasons he was so effective in the season opener against Indiana State is because they were playing back, taking away the passing game from quarterback Nate Sudfeld, so that was easy for Tevin to take advantage of.
TM:Is there any concern the Hoosiers are going to run him into the ground by relying heavily on him?
GP: I don't think IU over-relies on him. In a way, he's sort of a "secret" weapon. Not so secret anymore, of course, but IU isn't necessarily known for its strong running game. I would definitely consider them a passing team and I don't think that's going to change because of having a potential NFL-calliber running back. They're going to take advantage of his talent, but Tevin Coleman won't become the team.
TM:With Tre Roberson transferring, how has Nate Sudfeld looked as the full-time QB?
GP: That was definitely a major topic of discussion going into the season. With Tre gone, how does Nate step up knowing he's "the guy?" Does that put pressure on him or is it more of a relief knowing Tre isn't going to come in for him as soon as he makes a mistake? In the season opener, he was just 11-of-18 passing for 111 yards. But that was because Indiana State was taking away the passing game and IU was able to take advantage of that by compiling 455 yards on the ground. After the game, Nate was asked if it bothered him at all having to hand the ball off so often — because, as I said before, the passing game is generally IU's bread and butter. He said it didn't bother him at all because that's what ISU was giving them and it was fine as long as his team won, which showed a lot of maturity from him. Still, it probably wasn't the best performance. He was scrambling a lot, which was uncharacteristic of him, and not connecting with his receivers. Nate and his receivers went back during the bye week and spent a lot of time getting more on the same page and becoming more comfortable with each other. Against Bowling Green, he was 31-of-41 passing for 347 yards. We'll have to see how he progresses as the level of competition increases, but so far I think he's adjusting well.
TM: What's Indiana's outlook going into this game? Do the Hoosiers have any extra excitement going up against a ranked Southeastern Conference team in Missouri?
GP: Honestly, a lot of the focus during pressers this week was on how badly the IU defense played against Bowling Green. I think it's been kind of a we-need-to-look-back-and-correct-all-these-things-before-moving-forward thing. And that's especially important because of the high-level opponent they face in Missouri. I think rather than being excited about the atmosphere itself, it's more excitement about coming out and proving themselves against a nationally-ranked team. At this point, it's a lot about improvement, particularly for the defense. So this is just another opportunity for them to take steps in the right direction.
TM: What's the IU fan base's mindset for this game against Mizzou?
GP: That's hard to say. Everyone is probably still upset over last week's loss. There was so much speculation going into the season over IU's new 3-4 defense. After a second half Saturday, when it allowed 33 points and 27 first-down conversions — not to mention having to defend 113 snaps total snaps in the game — people thought there was no difference in the defense. It was "here we go again, this is no different than before." So, to be totally honest, IU fans are probably just hoping IU doesn't get blown out. Also, the attitude is of course going to be a bit different with it not being a home game for us. There's a little less excitement with that I think.
TM: What have IU coaches said about preparing for Missouri sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk?
GP: All the coaches spoke very highly of Maty Mauk. They mentioned his athleticism. They know he's a huge threat and really the one who makes the Missouri offense go. For IU, it seemed a lot of the focus early this week was still on the bad defensive performance against Bowling Green. One thing that was really emphasized was defensive aggression. They were very cautious against Bowling Green, playing back on their heels. So, first and foremost this week is playing more aggressive. That's going to be crucial against a good team like Missouri.
TM: What have they said about preparing to Missouri's defensive line, with defensive ends Markus Golden and Shane Ray?
GP: Indiana offensive coordinator Kevin Johns called the Missouri defense one of the best in the country. He called Golden and Ray "NFL-type players." He knows this is one of the toughest challenges they'll face. The IU offensive line is very good too, though, so I'm interested to see that matchup. We haven't had to talk about the O-line yet this year, which is always a good thing. But this will definitely be a major challenge for them.
TM: What or who is going to be the key to Indiana possibly pulling off an upset?
GP: I think there are a couple things that can keep Indiana in this game. One is their ability to take advantage of Maty Mauk mistakes. Although his decision making may be improving, the nature of that offense is to take shots down the field and make big plays. Any risky decision he makes is an opportunity for the IU defense and being able to get a interception out of that could be huge. The other thing is whether or not Nate Sudfeld and the IU offense can exploit the Missouri pass rush. If he can get enough time to get his passes off and they can find a way to play in the secondary rather than allowing the Missouri defensive front to make plays, that's going to be very beneficial for IU.
TM:What's your prediction for the game?
GP :Two things keep IU from winning this game: Maty Mauk and that D-line. I'm not sure the IU defense is experienced enough yet to effectively stop Mauk and I see the Missouri D-line causing problems. My prediction is Missouri 35, IU 13.