The Indiana Hoosiers are 3-0 for the first time since 2010 and have won four consecutive games for the first time in the Kevin Wilson era. Their offense has made up for their all too generous defense and made each of their three home matchups against Southern Illinois, Florida International and Western Kentucky entertaining.
While it may not be encouraging to compare this season’s Hoosiers to the 2010 team because they finished 2-7 the rest of the way, the elusive bowl game is definitely on the horizon. One main reason behind their offensive success is that of their new running back, Jordan Howard. After Tevin Coleman took his 2,000 yards to the Atlanta Falcons, Indiana brought in Howard to replace him after his old school, UAB, disbanded football.
“I feel like I have adjusted very well,” Howard said. “They brought me almost immediately as a part of the family. They taught me the playbook and we just get along very well.”
“When I got to know him, through spring ball a little bit, I realized he was going to be a special player,” quarterback Nate Sudfeld said. “Obviously Tevin was awesome, but Jordan Howard fits our offense so well. Personality wise, he fits our team so well. He wears on defenses, gets the offense into 3rd and manageable. He has really opened up our playbook and given us good opportunities.”
After rushing for 203 yards against Western Kentucky, Howard leads the FBS in rushing yards with 507. His rushing yard totals have increased game by game, almost as if he’s getting stronger.
“I feel like, as the game goes along, I can get stronger throughout, and that is a tribute to our offseason workouts,” Howard said. “I’m not sure why it happens; I guess the defense just gets tired of tackling me. I don’t give in and I just love doing it to them.”
Howard does benefit from the presence of his quarterback. Unlike him, Coleman was left to his own devices after a shoulder injury knocked Sudfeld out for the season last year. This time around, Sudfeld is healthy and has balanced out the offense and kept the defense on the edge at all times.
Sudfeld currently leads the Big Ten in passing yards (938, 13th nationally), passing yards per game (312.7, 14th), total offense (975, 12th), total offense per game (325.0, 15th) and passing efficiency (164.4, 20th). Combine that with Howard and Wilson has an offense that allows him to continue to be relentless.
“In this day and age, you’ve got to snap it,” Wilson said. “That’s why when the old school says run the clock out, I was telling K.J. you’ve got to go score. If they would have had a timeout, we would have tried to score, but we didn’t need to in the end, so take a knee. How about in a couple weeks everybody says, hey, you should run the clock down and kick the field goal. Anybody watch the Giants the other night? That worked out pretty good. You’ve got to score.”
Indiana will go to their first road game of the season when they face Wake Forest, the weakest team in the ACC. Going on the road is a tall task for any team, but the Hoosiers seem to revel in the opportunity to travel out of Bloomington.
“I’ve always kind of liked going to road games,” Sudfeld said. “I love playing in front of our fans, but there’s something special about going with just your teammates, your coaches. It’s kind of an ‘Us against the world.’ There’s kind of a level of camaraderie. The team gets closer on away games. You’re just together in a hostile environment.”
If things go as plan, Indiana will be 4-0 in time for their big game against Ohio State. Their game against the defending National Champions will define how good this team really is.
“I feel like we have shown people what we can do,” Howard said. “This is not just about me, it’s about all of us, the offense as a whole.”