Hoosiers will try to get back on track against Maryland
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson is getting back to basics this week.
He's encouraging the offense to start fast. He wants quarterback Richard Lagow to get back in sync. And he needs the Hoosiers to re-establish their ground game Saturday against Maryland.
''When you are one-dimensional, it's easy to tee off on the quarterback. It's easy to rush in the pocket,'' Wilson said. ''To me, it all goes back to line of scrimmage play, tight end play and running back play. If you cannot run the ball for four weeks in a row, you're easy to defend.''
That could explain why the Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten) find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak and desperately in need of a win despite a promising start that included an upset of defending conference champion Michigan State and competitive games against top 10 foes Ohio State and Nebraska .
There are other explanations, too.
While all 11 of Lagow's interceptions have come in the past six weeks, Indiana's usually reliable ground game has struggled. The Hoosiers haven't produced a 100-yard runner in three weeks and have averaged 2.8 yards per carry during that stretch.
And it won't get any easier this week.
The surprising Terrapins (5-2, 2-2) are on the verge of becoming bowl-eligible under first-year coach DJ Durkin, thanks in part to an improving defense.
Indiana, which turned its 2015 season around with an improbable comeback at Maryland, poses a different problem. The Terrapins have only played two true road games this season - beating Florida International in Miami and losing at Penn State.
''Our guys know we have a really big challenge in front of us,'' Durkin said. ''We've got to find a way to get a win on the road in conference and those things are tough to do.''
Especially when you're playing an opponent that is trying to salvage its season and keep its bowl hopes alive.
''We just need to go out there and have fun,'' Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales said. ''We have to find a way to get back in a groove.''
Here are some other things to watch Saturday:
Indiana trailed 17-0 and 21-3 in its last two games, which is not Wilson drew it up. If the Hoosiers don't have a better opening act against the fast-starting Terrapins, it could be another long day for Indiana.
Maryland's pass defense has allowed only one team to top the 200-yard mark this season and Big Ten opponents are averaging 146.3 yards per game. None of the Terrapins' last three opponents - Purdue, Penn State or Michigan State - completed more than 12 passes. And Maryland's average of 2.71 sacks per game is No. 34 in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
SHAKING OFF THE RUST
Wilson acknowledged All-American guard Dan Feeney wasn't himself when he returned last weekend after missing five weeks and four games with a concussion. The Hoosiers are hoping their best blocker will be better this week after getting rid of some rust.
Maryland's Lorenzo Harrison has 502 yards in seven games and is on pace to shatter LaMont Jordan's school rushing record for freshman (689 in 1997). Harrison may not break the record Saturday, but he could get a lot closer this weekend. The Hoosiers are allowing 160.4 yards rushing per game.
FOURTH AND TROUBLE
Wilson has been aggressive on fourth down this season, going for it 17 times in seven games. Indiana has only converted twice. Of the 128 FBS teams, the Hoosiers' conversion percentage (.235) is ranked No. 125.
AP College Football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org/