October 11, 2012

Q&A: Examining the Buckeyes and Hoosiers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - This Saturday, the Ohio State football team will head to Bloomington, Ind. with its undefeated record intact and looking to surpass its win total from a season ago. With that in mind, I chatted with Matt Weaver of PEEGS.com in hopes of getting a better understanding of Indiana football and the state of the Hoosiers heading into this weekend's Big Ten matchup.

BA: 1. Five games into this season, and the Hoosiers have not only doubled their win total from a season ago, but they've played some good teams like Michigan State closer than expected. What's been the difference so far this season for Kevin Wilson's squad?

MW: I think the biggest thing is the guys who are this team want to be here and they are buying in to what Coach Wilson and his staff expect.  That wasn't the case last year as there were a number of players who resisted what the new staff was trying to do.  Those guys are no longer in the program, so what you have is a team full of players who are all on the same page with the coaches.  Having everyone pulling in the same direction makes a big difference.

The second thing is this team has some experience under its belt.  It is still one of the youngest teams in the country with a lot of freshmen and sophomores starting and/or playing significant minutes, but many of these young guys played quite a bit last year so they know what to expect.  Having a year in the system and a year to get more comfortable with the coaches has been a big key.

BA: Defensively, the Buckeyes have had trouble tackling on a consistent basis and have given up big plays in each of their games. If Indiana has a playmaker on offense who could potentially hurt Ohio State, who would it be?

MW: There are a couple guys who have the ability to make big plays for IU on offense.  Wide receivers Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer are two guys who are very talented, and both will be amped up for this game since they are Ohio guys.  Wynn is from Cleveland and he played at Glenville H.S., while Latimer is from Dayton.  Wynn is not very big at 5'7 and around 160 pounds, but he is very fast and very elusive.  Latimer is a big wideout at 6'3 and about 210 pounds.  He has good speed and the ability to make acrobatic catches over the top of defenders. 

BA: With a top-10 nationally ranked team coming to town with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, what would you say are Indiana's expectations for this game?

MW: I think the team believes they can play with Ohio State and will have a chance to win at the end.  I would be surprised if that is not their mindset.  The coaches are working hard to get the players to believe and it has shown in their play at times.

I think the fans are looking for the team to build off of their performance against Michigan State.  They understand for the most part that rebuilding a program is a marathon and not a sprint.  Being competitive against a team like the Buckeyes would be another step in the rebuilding process for the IU program.

BA: On Monday, Urban Meyer described the Hoosiers as a team that was really "coming on." Is that the sense you get in Bloomington? And how would you describe the current state of the Indiana football program?

MW: I would say that is a fair assessment.  There is still a ways to go before they are an upper echelon team in the Big Ten, but the foundation is in place and the mentality seems to be changing to what it needs to be for the program to be successful.  There is some frustration because of the last three losses and how close the team was to possibly winning each game, but it is obvious that they are clearly a better team than last year.  There is a solid base of talent in the program, but the staff needs to a couple more recruiting classes to get it where it needs to be to make the move to the top half of the conference.

BA: What's your score prediction for this game and how do you see it playing out?

MW: I think the IU staff will game up with a game plan on offense that will give Ohio State some problems, but I am not sure they can score enough to have a chance in the end.  Braxton Miller is a fantastic player and he is the kind of talent that has given IU a lot of problems in the past.  When it is all said and done there is just too much talent on the Ohio State sideline.  Add that to a very good coaching staff for the Buckeyes and I think that equals a double-digit win for them.


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