Northwestern familiar with Indiana offense
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org September 28, 2012 11:44PM
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The facts: 11 a.m., BTN, 720-AM.
Updated: October 30, 2012 6:08AM
Indiana’s offense is an equalizer.
Coach Kevin Wilson’s no-huddle, spread attack is designed to run a play every 21.4 seconds. The Hoosiers put up big numbers in the passing and running games. They wear teams out with their frenetic pace. They score on long drives and on lightning strikes (Indiana has six touchdown drives of six of fewer plays this season).
The problem is, Northwestern knows all about it. Wilson installed the offense the Wildcats use today when he was the offensive coordinator under Randy Walker in 2000. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald was a member of that same staff after being named linebackers coach the next year.
That means the Hoosiers’ strength should be negated when they visit Ryan Field in the Big Ten opener for both teams Saturday, although the Wildcats have struggled against no-huddle attacks in the past.
‘‘It doesn’t affect us much at all,’’ NU safety Ibraheim Campbell said of the faster pace. ‘‘We’re prepared for it. Our offense is an up-tempo offense. It’s pretty normal to us. Most normal teams are actually slow compared to what we’re used to, so it’s not going to be any trouble at all.’’
Wilson’s offense has remained prolific despite a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Tre Robinson. Junior-college transfer Cameron Coffman, the son of former Green Bay Packers tight end Paul Coffman, and Nate Sudfield have helped Indiana average 36 points and 538 yards through three games.
Sudfield is one of nine freshmen to play for the Hoosiers this season after Wilson used 32 freshmen and redshirt freshmen last season.
There’s good reason for the Wildcats (4-0) to be wary of Indiana (2-1). Seven of the last eight games in the series have been decided by seven points or fewer and four of the last five by three or fewer.
‘‘I’d like to think we’re prepared for [the Hoosiers’ offense],’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘That’s what we do. We’ve seen it before. We’ve played the Texas Tech offense in games and at times played very well and at times missed tackles and played like garbage. I’m hopeful we’ll rise to the occasion.’’