Six Pack Preview: Indiana Q&A with The Crimson Quarry

So yesterday, you got Tiki's take on tomorrow's ACC-B1G matchup between the Hoos and the Hoosiers. But we thought it might be worth it to talk to a true homer to get his input. John over at The Crimson Quarry was kind enough to answer five questions about Indiana and make a bold prediction for us. We asked about their inexperienced defense, some ongoing injuries, and of course, their new head coach. [Edited 1:38 p.m.: Read my answers to John's questions here.]

Streaking the Lawn: Year One, Game One of the Kevin Wilson era did not start off quite as you guys were hoping (I assume). How does this affect his image and your school's fan mentality?

The Crimson Quarry: I don't think it has that much impact on Wilson's image overall. Everyone knows that the first year can be difficult, and isn't a great way to predict future success. I haven't heard many doubters this week. On the other hand, it's always unpleasant to lose to a program that is, for lack of a better term, considered beneath IU and the Big Ten, particularly when that program is from our state. In that sense, it probably is similar to how Virginia fans felt after losing to William & Mary a couple of years ago.

STL: How big of a loss is it that Darius Willis won't be playing? What do his replacements bring?

TCQ: Darius who? I think he is our best back when he is healthy, but after this weekend Willis will have played in only 13 of 26 games over the last two seasons. Between durability and disciplinary issues, he simply hasn't been reliable. It will hurt, but it's been a while since we expected to count on him. His two replacements, Stephen Houston and Matt Perez, are inexperienced but both looked reasonably comfortable against Ball State.

STL: Our preview yesterday noted that you've got an uptempo, pass-happy quarterback running a scheme that UVa isn't used to seeing. I know it's just been one week here, but where are the holes in your offense and what does the Virginia D need to do to break through?

TCQ: The biggest hole is at the quarterback position, where Edward Wright-Baker shows potential but is not very experienced. As is noted above, IU lacks experience at the running back position as well. The receivers, particularly senior Damarlo Belcher, are the strength of the offense. Ball State did a reasonably good job getting pressure on Wright-Baker (4 sacks) and keeping Belcher reasonably in check (had a 65 yard touchdown reception but caught only three other passes). Another thing that would help Virginia: if the absence of tight end Ted Bolser and WR Duwyce Wilson from this week's depth chart means that both are going to miss this game (both missed the Ball State game as well).

STL: Every game seems to be a must-win game for both Virginia and Indiana, both of whom are, in large part, just trying to get to a bowl game this year. Why does Indiana need this game more?

TCQ: I think Indiana needs it more simply because we already have one loss, and a 2-2 non-conference record would require IU to go 4-4 in the Big Ten to earn a bowl bid. Before the season, I thought that to go to a bowl game, IU would have to a) go 3-0 in the should-win non-conference games against Ball State, South Carolina State, and North Texas, and b) go 3-1 in IU's four most winnable home games, which are against Virginia, Northwestern, Illinois, and Purdue. Having lost to Ball State, IU's margin for error is gone. Of course, having lost to Ball State, it's probably a waste of time to break down IU's bowl prospects at all.

STL: Tell me everything that's wrong with Indiana's defense. It sounds like there's a lot, so just keep this under 10,000 words.

TCQ: This is where I should just embed that awesome Jim Mora video from when he was with the Saints (as opposed to the awesome "playoffs?!" rant when he was with the Colts. We have a raw secondary, and some youth on the line, including a redshirt freshman and one defensive end position. We do have some experience at LB and quite a bit of depth and experience at DT. Unfortunately, the defensive front was pushed around by Ball State's experienced but small OL. IU never laid a hand on BSU's quarterback, and BSU ran the ball effectively as well, including on a long, clock-killing drive in the fourth quarter. I don't have any pretensions about IU's personnel, but I am sure they can do better. The return of DE Darius Johnson, IU's best pass rusher, who missed the BSU game for unexplained reasons, will help.

STL: Alright, prediction time. How badly does Indiana lose to Virginia on Saturday?

TCQ: I believe that IU will play better this weekend, but I'm not sure it is going to be enough. Virginia 31, Indiana 28. I hope I'm wrong.

[Eds. Note: We hope you're spot on.]

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