Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
With two wins in their first five games, Indiana Hoosiers football has already doubled its win total from the 2011 season. This has Ohio State coach Urban Meyer “very concerned” about how his team will respond to playing the Hoosiers this Saturday, a road test at 8 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind.
“(Indiana’s) a much better team (than last year),” Meyer said during a Monday news conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “We’ve had two very emotional wins, two very physical wins (against Michigan State and Nebraska). There were a lot of sore bodies out there last night at practice.”
The No. 8 Buckeyes have won their first six games of the season, but Meyer stressed that getting to 7-0 will not come easily. Meyer said his team is “not at the point where we can start overlooking anybody” during the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference Tuesday.
“(Overlooking Indiana) is a concern,” Meyer said. “These kids are 6-0, a lot of people are telling them how good they are, and quite honestly we have a long way to go.”
Meyer said that Indiana keeping the game close with Michigan State was “the best thing that could happen,” because his players will be less likely to overlook their opponent.
“When you go in there and face a team that didn’t play well, the good thing is they are getting better,” Meyer said at his Monday press conference. “Indiana has talent, a lot of talent at certain positions.”
What particularly concerns Meyer is Indiana’s offense, which ranks 26th nationally in total offense with more than 471 yards per game, and 46th nationally in scoring offense with almost 33 points per game.
“They throw the ball very well. They play an offense that you better have every ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ dotted or they’re going to pop one on you,” Meyer said. “Offensively, that guy (Indiana coach Kevin Wilson) is a heck of a coach.”
On the other side of the equation, Wilson said playing OSU is a “great challenge,” but that he expects his team to compete.
“We’re going to play the Buckeyes every year, it’s a phenomenal program, it’s a tremendous challenge, but we need to build this program where we can compete … start being a winning team in this league and that’s what we’re trying to get going here,” Wilson said during the Tuesday teleconference. “A lot of work to do, trying to make progress, keep fighting through the shortcomings, but a lot of work to do and we’re going to keep working at it.”
Wilson said OSU sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller is “one of the best players in the game,” and that he hopes Miller is not at his best on Saturday night.
“His ability, his competitiveness is what I like. When a game’s on the line he makes plays,” Wilson said. “They’re doing a great job offensively, he’s got some nice players around, the offensive line’s playing well, he’s got some nice pieces, but he’s the straw stirring the drink and he’s pretty good.”
As for the Buckeyes defense, Indiana assistant offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said they are “fundamentally very sound.”
“They are very aggressive, they’re led by an outstanding pass rush, starting with (senior defensive end) John Simon,” Johns said during Indiana’s weekly press conference. “They do a tremendous job of keeping everything in front, playing their base technique, but they play extremely fast, they run through people. So it’s going to be a very good challenge for our offense, but one that I know our kids are excited for.”
The Buckeyes have won 16 consecutive games against Indiana, not including its vacated win in 2010, and will be looking to extend a streak that has held up since their last loss to the Hoosiers in 1988.