The Other Sideline is a weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from Indiana football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Indiana football will return to Memorial Stadium one last time Saturday when it plays Minnesota for senior day.
Minnesota is 6-4 on the season, already securing bowl eligibility, but has lost its last two straight games. Indiana has lost six consecutive games to fall to a 2-8 record and has yet to beat a Big Ten opponent this year.
Before the game, the Indiana Daily Student spoke to Matt Kennedy, a sports reporter at The Minnesota Daily, to preview the matchup.
IDS: What is Minnesota doing to prepare to play Indiana?
Kennedy: Minnesota hasn’t really given out a lot of information on the specifics of how they’ve prepared to play Indiana, but they have been keying in on the fact Indiana does not have junior quarterback Michael Penix. Jr. and that they rotate between three or four quarterbacks.
They’re going to play sophomore quarterback Grant Gremel and junior quarterback Jack Tuttle differently than how they would play freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley. That’s been their main concern against Indiana.
IDS: Where is Minnesota this season, and how has it compared to preseason expectations?
Kennedy: The key for the Gophers this season that has been a consistent bench mark has been their running game. They have such an experienced offensive line. They have a lot of six-year players and a lot of seniors. When their running game isn’t working, that’s when against Bowling Green State University, that’s when against Illinois, you start to see troubles.
It’s been an up and down year. The main thing to take away is if the running game is clicking, the Gophers are clicking.
IDS: What position groups are Minnesota’s strong suits?
Kennedy: Definitely the running backs are a strong suit for Minnesota. Senior running back Mo Ibrahim being out for the season, sophomore running back Trey Potts being out for the season, that hasn’t really fazed them. Against Iowa, redshirt freshman Ky Thomas rushed for 126 rushing yards. Freshman Mar’Keise Irving has stepped in to play as the third down pass-catching back quite nicely.
On defense it's their defensive line. They have two transfers in graduate student Nyles Pinckney, a transfer from Clemson, and graduate student Val Martin, a transfer from North Carolina State University. They also have returning players on the defensive line such as senior Boye Mafe. The Gophers’ defense this year is nationally ranked seventh in total defense, and that’s a far cry from last year when they had some of the worst defensive rushing numbers in the country.
IDS: What does Indiana need to do to beat Minnesota this weekend?
Kennedy: They need to shut down the run game. If they do, Minnesota’s passing attack isn’t very potent. If their front seven has success shutting down the run game, Minnesota will start to lean more on senior quarterback Tanner Morgan, and Morgan has not been the most accurate quarterback this season. If you can get Minnesota out of their running game groove, that’s how you beat them.
From Indiana on an offensive standpoint, you have to spread Minnesota out, you have to spread their linebackers out. You have to make their secondary work making tackles because a lot of teams, when they beat Minnesota, they have success running to the outside.
IDS: Who wins this weekend?
Kennedy: I don’t mean to be biased, but I feel like Minnesota is going to be really motivated after losing two straight. This is a team that really needs to rebound and gain some confidence. I predict the score will be 28-16 Minnesota.