Here's what he had to say:
Daily Collegian: What would a win against a program like Penn State mean for Indiana? Coming in 2-2 isn't great, but it seems like fans have found a glimmer of hope in this year's offense.
Evan Hoopfer: A win against Penn State would be, without question, the biggest victory in the Kevin Wilson era. This is Wilson's third year at the helm, and he has won two Big Ten games. Both coming last year against Illinois and Iowa. So starting off the season with a victory against a traditional Big Ten powerhouse would be huge.
Also, IU is trying to become bowl eligible for the first time since the 2007 season. Looking in the future, IU will be competitive and might even be favored against Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. If they win those three games, then they would have to steal one against either Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin or Ohio State. Not only would a victory against Penn State help the program's immediate image, it would help their postseason aspirations.
TDC: Speaking of offense, what do you see in Nate Sudfeld? His stats speak for themselves, but how comfortable is he in the pocket, under pressure and making quick decisions?
Hoopfer: I think Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson summed it up best when after their game he called Sudfeld a "stud." The 6-foot-5, true sophomore has great arm strength and has really shined since he's been given the starting job. When given time to throw he can dissect a defense to hit any one of his talented receivers.
In IU's last game against Missouri, he struggled due to the Tiger pass rush. He was under pressure all night and had trouble getting the offense started against the SEC defense. He's thrown two pick-sixes this year, so the fact he's made two career starts shows from time to time. Expect to see sophomore Tre Roberson get some snaps as a change of pace type of quarterback. He'll come in and run some read option, but Sudfeld has won the starting job after it was a three-man race in the preseason.
TDC: Indiana's had trouble generating anything resembling an effective run defense and Penn State brings in three very solid running backs. What's the defense doing to combat the fact that it's last in the conference against the run?
Hoopfer: It's no secret IU's run defense has been anemic. In the second game of the year, Navy had 444 rushing yards against IU. They couldn't stop their option and Navy's cut blocks were giving the Hoosier's defense struggles.
Because the Hoosier offense runs hurry up and has an incredibly fast pace, it leaves their defense vulnerable when teams keep running it down their throats. Navy's offense is gimmicky, and one IU will not see the rest of the way. But even a more conventional offense like Missouri's had 280 yards on the ground. If Penn State wants to run the ball, they will most likely have success. It's just a matter of can IU can outscore them.
TDC: How different is this team than last year's? You brought up that Indiana is 0-16 all-time against Penn State, but Penn State's only favored by 3.5 points. What changed?
Hoopfer: Last year's team was not a bad team, by any stretch of the imagination. IU went 4-8 and lost a lot of close games. They lost to Ball State by two, Michigan State by four, Ohio State by three and Navy by one. That's four losses by a combined total of 10 points. So (in theory) two more touchdowns and IU could have been 8-4.
IU brought back a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Specifically on offense, they brought back 99.9 percent of their rushing yards, 95 percent of their receiving yards and 100 percent of their passing yards. They have great offensives weapons and then the addition of Sudfeld taking over for junior QB Cam Coffman is a major plus.
Whether or not the defense is mightily approved is yet to be seen. We'll have to see them go up against a couple Big Ten offenses first. But IU can hang in any game with their potent offense.
TDC: The Nittany Lions have Allen Robinson. Who is the offensive game-changer for the Hoosiers?
Hoopfer: Pick your poison with the Hoosier offense. I've already covered Sudfeld. In the running game, sophomore Tevin Coleman took the starting job from fifth-year senior Stephen Houston before the year, and hasn't looked back. He is a freak athlete who has shown flashes of brilliance. He is averaging almost seven yards a carry this year, so their is no let up with the running game.
The receiving corps of Cody Latimer, Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes was historic last year and all are back for this season. This is from an article I wrote this back in August, "IU’s leading three receivers ranked in the top 10 for receptions and yards per game in the conference last season ... This was the first time one Big Ten team had three representatives on both lists since the Big Ten started cataloging receiving statistics in 2004." Cody Latimer was named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list. He's caught over 100 receiving yards in his last two games.
Shane Wynn is a 5-foot-7 speedster who'll play slot. He returned a punt for a touchdown earlier this season, and his speed is definitely respected on the Penn State defense. Earlier this season I talked to Penn State safety Malcolm Willis, who said of Wynn and the other two receivers, “Those guys, especially a guy like Shane Wynn — I’m actually good friends with Shane — he might be one of the toughest guys to cover in the slot that I’ve played against or that I’ve seen. Those three guys are a big problem to handle.”
And then senior Kofi Hughes is a solid route runner with sure hands. Also, tight end Ted Bolser is one of the best in the nation. He was named the national tight end of the week for his performance against Navy.
Like I said before, IU will score. The question is can they score enough to make up for the defense's short-comings.
Anna Orso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-865-1828. Follow her on Twitter at @anna_orso.